As the discussions on the recently introduced social media taxes rage on, with opponents hoping to have it withdrawn, and the biggest move towards that being the petition that was filed in the Constitutional Court, the government has shown it is determined to maintain the tax.
What the government might do, however, is adjusting the current system to see which process is citizen-friendly and best for collecting the tax.
“…We are also exploring other options to make sure the payment is cheap for the users. However, the bottom line is that the social media tax will stay,” Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director of Uganda Communications Commission was quoted in the Daily Monitor.
As a way towards effecting that move, a meeting will be held between implementing agencies (UCC and Uganda Revenue Authority) and telecommunication companies after a fortnight.
“After 2 weeks, the Commission together with @URAuganda, telecoms and Ministry of Finance will meet to evaluate the progress of Social Media Tax,” UCC tweeted on Monday.
— UCC (@UCC_Official) July 2, 2018
After the tweet, tweeps took to the reply section to question the motive.
Is this all thing a try and error? Why didn’t you all meet when it was suggested before disrupting businesses and citizens social lives? We need comprehensive ways in handling policy making than this try & error method! Both #socialmediatax & #MobileMoneyTax should be discussed!
— lilna (@lilna) July 2, 2018
The policy is very clear. The Excise Duty (Amendment) Act Tax, 2018 introduced Excise duty on OTT services. The tax payable is UGX. 200 per day per user & is chargeable at any
point of access of OTT. All licensed telecoms & ISP's are required to account for this tax.
— Ibrahim Bbossa #IKB (@IBbossa) July 2, 2018
So what are they meeting to discuss??
— Jackie kitiibwa (@JackieKitiibwa) July 2, 2018
Clearly you didn’t think it through otherwise you would not need to meet after only two weeks to evaluate. What you have done is to drive the economy back to the 1990s. Celebrate that backwardness as you celebrate your 20 years. Shame
— Comrade Otoa (@Comrade_Otoa) July 2, 2018
On Tuesday reports emerged that UCC had “acquired new equipment to monitor the daily revenues of the telecom companies”, and the reporter indicated that the system, apart from tracking data and voice revenue collections of telcos, it would help government to track how much the telecom operators get from the mobile money and social media tax collections.
Quoting Mutabazi, the reporter said that UCC, with this system, will be able to track what each telecom operator collects daily in order to inform them on how much values to collect from the telcos while curbing the problem of under-declaration of revenue by telcos.
However, when SautiTech contacted Pamela Ankunda, a spokesperson for the Commission, she acted surprised and dismissed the development, saying: “No, collecting revenue is a function of URA, not UCC.”
When we told her that the report quoted her boss, she reiterated: “No, no, no, no, collecting revenue is a function of URA and not UCC.”
Mutabazi was not readily available for comment.
We also contacted spokespersons for both Airtel and MTN, and they all said they had not been informed about the development. We’re yet to get a comment from Africell.