UCC holds on to controversial social media tax

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is set to start massive sensitization of social media users to appreciate the relevance of paying the controversial Shs200 tax that was effected yesterday.

This comes as several Ugandans continue to oppose the newly introduced tax, describing it as a means by government to curtail free flow of information.

Addressing the media in Kampala today, the commission’s executive director Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi said that Ugandans must understand that taxing social media is not peculiar to Uganda, other countries including America and United Kingdom have done the same.

He has dismissed calls to incorporate the tax with the cost of data saying that bundles are already affected by a 12% excise duty and 18% Value Added Tax (VAT).

Mr. Mutabazi adds that despite all contestations, government will not abandon this move that is expected to raise between Shs400bn and Shs1.4tn annually.

Earlier, police in Kampala arrested two Makerere University students who were protesting the newly introduced social media tax.

The two wanted to access parliament through the main gate, but police intercepted and instead took them to the Central Police Station.

The duo claimed they were delivering a petition containing reasons justifying their cause to the office of the speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

Relatedly, the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has appealed to president Yoweri Museveni to retract the taxes on social media and  mobile money since they have barred smooth communication and financial inclusion.

This is after the controversial Shs 200 daily levy on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook and a 1% tax on mobile money that was passed by parliament in May officially came it effect yesterday, locking out many Ugandans.

Addressing journalists at the party headquarters in Najjanakumbi, the deputy spokesperson Paul Mwiru said such prohibitive measures cannot foster prosperity since many people will resort to dodging the tax.

He added that a number of people in the country were already devising ways of avoiding the taxes while others had been left stranded because they conduct their business on social media.