Bank of Uganda: Measures to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 (20.03.2020)

Bank of Uganda: Monetary Policy Statement for February 2020 (13.02.2020)

Mobile Money Tax shortfall: People change behaviour after levying an unfair tax

Levy on mobile money contributed a deficit of UGX 30.48 billion which can be explained by the fact that high value clients withdraw their funds from agency banking e.g MTN has had a drop of 36 percent in MM transaction values since the introduction of the levy on mobile money” (Uganda Revenue Authority, 06.02.2020).

There is also reported that it has been a 36% drop in Mobile Money Transactions since the enaction of the Exercise Duty in 2018. That means, the added tax on the MM transactions are backfiring. The State isn’t adding revenue, but ensuring that people are finding other ways of moving their money.

This is not shocking, that people change behaviour, when the state makes it more expensive. As the people used these services to send each other money by convenience. Now, one third of the transactions are gone. Meaning, the ones that can change their ways has done that.

The losers are not only the Telecoms, but also the state. As the shortfall of taxes got to be covered elsewhere. As the state had put this into the budgets to cover other state works. This means the targets for domestic revenue wasn’t considering the implications of doing it. As, there wouldn’t be an natural reaction to the consequences to the new taxes.

Instead of increasing the tax base, they are making it smaller and not able to find measures that makes sense. The state has clearly done this without due diligence, neither also configured the stats and the possible behaviour of the public. As their ways gotten more taxed and not considering that they would stop, if they found it to expensive or unreasonable.

The MM tax and the OTT taxes was measures made to tax the digital market-space in the Republic. However, they have both been flawed and also not met their targets, because the public found other ways of doing things.

The ironies about the MM saga is that before the tax, the business of MM was growing. A natural growth and having more transactions every year. Now, that they levied the tax its has a big fall. That is a result of the MM Tax and the public is not having it. Peace.

Opinion: OTT Tax on Data Bundles is like a dual-VAT

“URA Commissioner General Doris Akol told the Finance Committee of Parliament chaired by Henry Musasizi that the controversial OTT Tax will be charged directly on data instead of mobile money to curb the evasion” (NBS Television, 14.01.2020).

I wonder if Doris Akol has thought this through or is winging it? As she see the losses and lack of results, revenue or tax base with the 200 shillings of doom. The whole OTT Tax is to expensive for the public daily. Now, she wants to move it and indirectly tax it instead.

Surely, they will get revenue, but this will make it more expensive to buy data-bundles for the customers and make the packages more viable. VPN and similar networks to circumvent the usage and payments of the daily OTT Tax have beaten the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). That is why URA does this now.

It is a sign of defiance and civil disobedience. They are trying to patch the hurt. But will this succeed? Will more try to only load data through Wi-Fi networks and wireless networks in general. Not load so much data on the go. Because, people are smart and tries to undercut extra taxes. Especially, when on the data is already paid VAT and the Mobile Company pay their taxes on the profits too.

Therefore, URA and Akol seems fishing. They will raise revenue, but also make the data bundles more expensive and with that stop plenty of people from buying bigger data bundles for surfing online on your smart-phone.

That is just the mere reality. It is a sign, yet again that the OTT is a failed project, who didn’t hit the targets and wasn’t measured right. If it was, the aim and the bargain wouldn’t be like this. That is not happening.

This method is a clever way of adding the costs of data, while charging for service not necessarily used. The OTT Services, which is the reason for why these are charged. Because, the data could be used for other things and therefore, is violating its attempt to make it costly for certain usage on online.

This is again, pushing one story, pushing one tax and trying to tax the public by any means. When the hook doesn’t work, they use the crook. Instead of doing directly, they want to do it indirectly and initially in some way adding a separate VAT on data-bundles masked as OTT Tax. That is really it.

We all know this, URA verify it today. That the only things certain in life is death and taxes. Thanks Akol for reminding us. Peace.

Bank of Uganda: Monetary Policy Statement for December 2019 (09.12.2019)

Opinion: Mr. President your late to the party…

I have a hard time believing that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) will stop creating districts, sub-counties and whatever local government administrations in the Republic. They will never really cease doing so, because they constantly carved the Republic into tiny pieces. So, that every single Sub-County today can become a district in the near future. It should be a joke, but looking at history, than it isn’t far-fetched at all.

By seeing this one piece from the New Vision:

In 1986 when NRM took power, Uganda had 33 districts which increased to 81 districts by 2008. The districts increased to 112 by 2011, but reduced to 111 after the Capital city ceased to be a district” (John Odyek, Mary Karugaba and Moses Walubiri – ‘25 more districts created’ 19.07.2012, New Vision).

Than my own calculation from November 2019:

The State has continued to create the districts and sub-counties. In 2016 there was 112 districts and by 2021, there will be 135 districts. As well as there was 1,403 sub-counties in 2016, while in 2021 there will be 2057 sub-counties.

With knowing this and the knowledge of the mushrooming state. There is bit a late to cry foul over more town councils and the affordability. When during your time the state has gone from having 33 districts to 135 districts in 2021.

Therefore, this warning seems a bit late:

They are going to be too many and not affordable. Let the little money we have be concentrated first in maintaining security, building infrastructure(roads, railway, electricity, schools, and health centres) and not expanding administrative costs,”Museveni warned in November 28 letter to Butime. The warning by the president comes at a time when government recently announced the creation of 162 new town council that started being operational this year, whereas others will be operational by July 1, 2020” (Kenneth Kazibwe – ‘Museveni warns against creation of new municipalities’ 08.12.2019).

Because of this, I don’t believe the man. I really don’t believe the President and his motives here. It is weird that he has issues, when his made so many districts and sub-counties already. That creating further town councils only follows the modus operandi of the state.

Not like its a revolutionary idea from the state to make more. It would be more shocking if he started to merge sub-counties and districts. So, that it would be less districts and sub-counties in the Republic. In this current stage and time, that would have been positive and plans for actual change. However, than the devolution and the years of curving the districts. It would show the public that it was only political motivated and not really making government better.

That he warns about this in 2019 after 33 years in power and been so hyper-active with creating smaller entities. His surely the wrong man to signal the red-flag. Yes, the state cannot afford more town-councils and such. But that is because the state has already to many districts and sub-counties to pay for.

The state is already deficit financing, the mushroomed state, which the President and his men has created over the years. That is why, writing a letter this year isn’t solving anything or making a difference on the negative and expensive spiral, the President has started. The President knows this, but thinks this make him look smart. When it doesn’t, since his in charge of all these small entities and that will part of his legacy. He can cry now, but his crocodile tears are coming late.

He should have stopped before he created a 100 districts more in his time. Who knows how many sub-counties his created, but surely a 1000 by now. Than count the Municipalities and Town Councils, than you get humongous number. That is what bloated numbers sound like. Therefore, sending out warnings now is late from the old man, he should have done it long time ago, but he didn’t care. Peace.

Opinion: RDCs getting cars isn’t governing, but a cheap trick!

The Minister for Presidency, Esther Mbayo has given out 65 cars to Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) from different regions to improve on service delivery. The RDCs who received the cars on Thursday constitute 50% of the total number of Resident District Commissioners currently deployed in the country” (Muhamad Matovu – ‘Minister Mbayo Gives 65 Cars To RDCs From Different Regions’ 22.11.2019).

There are 135 districts, which is operative in the Republic. This is November 2019. There will come more districts in 2020 and so-on. As the Republic is made into smaller and smaller units as political favours and for personal gains of the political elite. That is well-known, as well as a measure done to establish good grounds of new constituencies with no voting history ahead of any given election.

With this in mind, there is an up-coming election in 2021. It is not the first time the National Resistance Movement (NRM) run government have given cars to its officials. They are not only giving that to the MPs and the cabinet, but also anyone in association with the State House. Therefore, the State House and the Parliament should have a car-lot and a car-dealership, if they were supposed to run it smoothly and cheaper.

Because, back in 2015, the state bought 111 cars for District Chairpersons. Therefore, this sort of enterprise happens on near-regular basis. Just as the state bought cars for the CPC in Parliament in this calendar year. So, this is a business the state knows and deals with a lot.

The special thing about this, is that service deliver is important with a car. Not with a mandate or actual factual work that the RDCs do. The Residential District Commanders, the ones overseeing and oversight of the government works in the districts. This is 65 cars and in total, that is 50% of the appointed RDCs. This means there is 130 districts who has RDCs by what the Mbayo states. That means the state lacks funds, manpower and appointed leadership for 5 districts alone. Which is a rare move.

The President has the opportunity to give broader mandate, to give funds and opportunities to the RDCs to actually do more. But thinking a car would make a big difference is naive. As they have the same mandate, the same lacking structure and weak local government. Just today, the President and the state gives state officials cars, instead of building viable institutions.

The state is acting like a car dealership, not a governing institution nor following up on obligations in the districts. This is a cheap ploy for poor districts, for lacking funds and for not investing in all the created micro local-government units, which is now 135 districts and so-on. Where the RDCs and others has supervision and mandates to work. Therefore, there should be more than cars and more than a quick fix, which this is and nothing else.

To buy 65 cars will not fix the districts, it will only give for a short amount of time, mobility for some few persons in association with the RDCs. It doesn’t make the roads being built, schools being furnished nor town halls run properly. That is done over budgets, policies and actual governing being done.

To govern is an art and giving away cars isn’t building a nation, it is only cheap fix. You don’t give an alcoholic an beer, you take them to rehab and stops the availability to beer. Instead, here the state gives another beer and hope that it doesn’t catch on. Sooner or later, these cars will have a breakdown. As the cars are hit by driving miles upon miles every year.

Therefore, this isn’t it. Other than a rundown, over used idea, which isn’t scratching the surface. Peace.

Bank of Uganda: Monetary Policy Statement for October 2019 (07.10.2019)

Uganda: Fresh report states that the debt-service has grown 129% within one financial year!

 

The Republic of Uganda’s economy is really reeling, it cannot be sustainable as the Government of Uganda is growing their debt like there is no tomorrow. While the fiscal growth is substantially lower than their rate of debt-service. As the growth of debt combined with lacking growth to substantiate the shortfall.

In addition, with the knowledge of added expenses, growing shortfall of funds in the upcoming Financial Year of 2019/20 and the election year of FY 2020/21. There will be more add-ons on the need for debt service, as the state already had loans outstanding, which the grace period ends and the debt-service begins on. Therefore, the amount of loans will transpire even more, than what is in this report. The endless cycle of debt and growth of it, is worrying, as well, as the state thinks that the magical wand of oil-money will clear this debt. Even as the first operational oil field and such has been postponed yet again.

Just look!

“The total Government of Uganda external debt service by end of FY 2017/18 amounted to US$275.75 million, which was an increment of l29% compared to US$120.62 million in FY 2016/17” (…) “Debt service of Uganda’s external debt is on the rise and outstripping growth of the country’s income, currently at 6%. This poses risks for future debt repayments, especially as the country continues to acquire external debt at less concessional terms, especially to finance the oil development programme” (P: 6-7, 2019)

“It follows that as interest rates increase, the debt service obligations of Government also increases. The rise in external debt interest costs attests to the fact the government is increasingly contracting non-concessional debt, which will increase the repayment burden” (P: 24, 2019)

“However, this may not be the most likely scenario, as most projects have been discounted and some excluded in the macroeconomic framework. With the development of the NDP III, additional project and other pipeline project related to the oil developments and other infrastructure, will increase the financing requirement of government in the medium term. The inclusion of the above projects will re-classify Uganda from low risk of debt distress to moderate risk of debt distress or high risk if the export shocks materialize. A downgrade would have significant implications for the program with the IMF, where Uganda’s credit risk rating will worsen; implying that accessibility of nonconcessional financing will be limited. This will limit credit to Uganda to only concessional and grants financing.” (P: 28, 2019)

You don’t need to smart about it, as the state has bigger budgets with higher shortfall in the economy, combined with debt service and higher interest payments on the growing amount of loans. You know sooner or later, the economy will tank, as the fiscal responsibility is taken for granted and that fresh funds are lacking, because these are taken out of the economy to finance the payments of the old debts. Instead of generating growth and actually naturally grow the economy, by spending and investing as a state. The money is taken away to service debt, instead of building the state. That is what they are doing and at a alarming rate. Peace.

Reference:

NEC1-19 – ‘REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE STATE OF INDEBTEDNESS, GRANTS AND GUARANTEES’ June 2019, Parliament of Uganda

OTT Tax: Totally failed its supposed revenue targets in 2018!

Today, the Uganda Communication Commission released their annual sector performance report of July 2019. It was really a bit funny look, as the state, the President and all of his handlers said the Over-The-Top Services would create a tax-base and revenue, which would benefit the state. That is why Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) had set up targets to streamline these new taxes.

I will show more of the fun and explain, as the UCC report really shows how malfunction and lack of due diligence hurt. But first a previous calculation, which was stated to the media. To show how much lack of tax-base the OTT had in 2018, as it was implemented in July and keeps pushing to this date.

Look:

Daily Monitor Reports: “Government collected Shs20.5b from social media in the last quarter ended September, according to data obtained from Uganda Revenue Authority. The tax, which was implemented in July, was however, less than the Shs24.9b target that URA had hoped to collect in the period. URA has a monthly target of Shs8.3b. The tax was introduced in the Excise Duty amendments of financial year 2018/19 requiring all social media users to pay Shs200 per day, before accessing certain platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter, among others. Government intends to collect about Shs100b before the end of the 2018/19 financial year” (Christine Kasemiire – ‘OTT raises Shs20b in first quarter, URA fails on targets’ 07.11.2018).

Let’s first do the math, accordingly, as the URA monthly target is 8,3bn shillings in revenue, every single month. A quarter of a Financial Year is 4 months. In today’s UCC report, it shows the numbers for the Q3 and Q4 of 2018. Which means, that states revenue from July-September and October-December in the previous years. By these standards its 8,3bn X3 to get the supposed of any given Q. That is 24,9bn shillings is estimated to earn per quarter.

However, the UCC report states that in the Q3, the revenue was 12,696,558,400 or 12,6bn shillings which is only about half of the anticipated revenue. The final quarter or Q4 isn’t much better:12,952,833,800 or 12,9bn shillings. Of the estimated earnings, the state is nearly able to gain about half of its target. The market and the consumers are not contributing or using the phones as much as they thought. What is striking if you combine the two quarters of revenue is that the state earned approximately 25,5bn shillings, which is sadly just above one quarter estimate of the URA in supposed revenue on this tax. The estimated earnings of the period would be about 49,8bn and this shows the state managed a deficit of about 24,3bn shillings. That is about on quarters earning not happening at all. Thats a giant shortfall of cash and the URA/UCC needs to explain the Ministry of Finance this one, because this a major loss of promised funding for the state.  

This shows how failed this tax is and what a waste of enforcement and making the tax in its first place. This isn’t fun and games, but a way of misusing power to tax people, just because you find something obnoxious. That is how it seems, since the President want to stop the gossip online and such. Stop spreading of information and ensure that poorest cannot afford to get online and use the OTT services. Because, that what this tax does. Peace.