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Social Media Tax Ugandan lawmakers ask Parliament to pay their social media tax

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Greedy?

play Katerera County MP Hatwib Katoto playing Solitaire during a defence committee meeting (Courtesy)

It is two months now ever since the controversial tax on social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook, came into effect in Uganda.

The tax, formally known as OTT tax, came into effect on July 1st causing outrage among Ugandans who couldn't access their social media platforms before paying the daily UGX200 shillings to the government.

Ugandan lawmakers, who earn about UGX26m each without allowance fees, have expressed concern after failing to access social media platform using the iPads provided by the government.

A section of MPs told the Speaker of Parliament on Thursday that "It's hard for us to use our iPads to access social media because Parliament hasn't paid OTT tax)".

"We just realised that the Parliamentary Commission hasn't cleared with URA. We just realised our iPads can't access information on social media," another MP told reporters outside Parlament.

Social media tax was first proposed by Uganda's President Kaguta Museveni in March as a move aimed at generating additional revenue for the debt-burdened East African nation and also curb lugambo (gossip).

play Ugandan lawmakers want Parliament to pay their social media tax (Courtesy)

 

Also Read: Everything you need about the contentious social media & mobile money taxes in Uganda

Tax collection

Early this month, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) reported that it collected UGX27bn from social media and mobile money tax.

UGX4.7bn was collected from OTT tax alone for the month of August. The government says it expects to collect over UGX100bn from social media tax this year.

Decline in usage

A report released by a Uganda based communication firm revealed that there was a notable decrease in social media usage after the OTT tax came into effect.

Social media usage decline from 96% usage in the last 6 months before the tax) to 85% after introduction of the UGX200 daily tax.

Telecommunication service providers also reported a drop of 20% in subscribers using data as many opted to using virtual private networks.

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