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UCC’s Mutabazi: Debate on social media tax will guide us in future

UCC impostors Godfrey Mutabazi UCC pitches Netflix

The newly introduced social media tax is still dominating discussions across multiple platforms, to the extent of attracting international attention through the press.

The vast majority of Ugandans have shown they are seriously opposed to the tax, and this has been shown through tough-worded statements on social media, press, and some have even gone an extra mile of organizing protests.

A case against the tax has already been filed in the constitution court by a group of five working alongside a company dubbed Cyber Law Initiative. The tax is being protested on various grounds, but there are two main reasons that have really stood out, and one is that the opponents argue that they can’t pay the tax when government has shown a track record of misusing such monies and the second is the way it is being charged.

Most opponents of the social media tax say that a) government, instead of imposing the tax on the end user, a way should be found on how to get this tax from the over the top services (OTTS) that have been blocked so that one pays Shs200 daily to access them b) opponents also say that if government must charge these taxes they should be charged indirectly through airtime or data bundles rather than for citizens having to pay them directly.

The increased rage on social media has not been ignored by government and it has led to some government officials offering offbeat statements, especially politicians who know that they have a price to pay for their actions when the polling season returns.

As we talk now the government is already taking steps to see how the current policy can be shaken up to calm down the storm. One of the implementing organs, the Uganda Revenue Authority, has already said that they are already working on revising the current method of collecting the tax. The ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze also proposed a dialogue involving various stakeholders and a date for that is yet to be fixed.

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And just yesterday, Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi, who heads the Uganda Communications Commissions, which has been at the center of the social media tax uproar, acknowledged that the current state of affairs is not the best, saying that the debates that have been trickling down since the tax was introduced at the beginning of this month, will help guide the government in its future planning.

He was responding to the technology entrepreneur Stone Atwine, who has been one of the key vocal figures in resisting this tax. But Mutabazi’s response received tough responses from tweeps, especially Silver Kayondo, a lawyer among those that have sued the government, who said that the government should have listened to earlier voices instead of waiting to see all this unfold.

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