Mobile money tax up for Govt discussion today

By Nicholas Wassajja

Both finance minister Matia Kasaija and President Yoweri Museveni have said the 1% on mobile money was erroneously passed because cabinet had approved 0.5%.

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PIC: Finance minister Matia Kasaija will present the excise duty amendment proposals to cabinet. (File photo)


KAMPALA - The finance minister, Matia Kasaija, is set to present before cabinet a proposal to amend the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act, 2018, that introduced taxes on mobile money transactions and social media.

Last month, Parliament approved the Government’s proposal to levy a 1% tax on all mobile money transactions and the daily sh200 over the top (OTT) services on social media, causing public uproar and protests from pockets of critics.

Consequently, Parliament Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga last week, called for expeditious review of the taxes to harmonise the existing law, along with current demands.

Her directive followed a commitment by the Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, that the Government would soon table amendments to the law.

However, Kadaga last week said although Parliament cannot direct the Government to suspend implementation of the tax, she is ready to suspend some house rules, to allow expeditious handling of the amendment to the taxes.

The Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, implored the House to allow cabinet to have a meeting Monday, to discuss the details of the amendment and have it presented Tuesday.



House rules


Parliament rules of procedure require that a Bill shall first be published in the Uganda Gazette and accompanied by an explanatory memorandum.

Quoting Rule 118 of the Rules of Procedure, Kadaga said an urgent bill may be introduced to the House without publication.

“Where the House determines that a bill is urgent, it may be introduced and copies distributed to members and taken through all its stages in a day,” she said.

Although the Government has maintained that the sh200 OTT will not be reviewed, both Kasaija and President Yoweri Museveni have said the 1% on mobile money was erroneously passed because cabinet had approved 0.5%.

The state minister for housing, Chris Baryomunsi, told New Vision that although the issue is not on Monday’s main agenda, the meeting can always adjust the agenda.


OTT tax

The junior finance minister, David Bahati, last week said the only changes being considered on OTT are working with telecom companies to devise mechanisms that will make its payment easier than the current one requiring that sh200 be paid separately from airtime and data, using mobile money.

President Museveni has also ordered those who have been taxed 1% on mobile money transactions to be refunded, saying the agreed on figure was 0.5%.

“I signed the law with the error because we could not delay other measures. However, when Parliament reconvenes, it will be requested to correct it.

"The ones whose deductions had been made on the basis of 1% should have their money reimbursed,” Museveni wrote while responding to queries raised on social media.