Tax Commercial farmers instead of levying tax on social media: Civil Society advocates, advocating for the scrapping Social Media and Mobile Money tax have advised government to consider taxing large commercial farmers and to reduce government expenditure because this will enable government to raise more revenue.
The agitators said Uganda has a good number of commercial farmers whose revenue turnover are in millions but they don’t contribute to government yet they are being supported by government through various agricultural programs like Operation Wealth creation.
“Why should Government tax University student who are using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and you leave commercial farmers whose turnover is above 12 million? That is not fair; government should focus on taxing people who make money,“said Edna Ninsiima, an Independent Digital Communicator during public dialogue organized by Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in collaboration with the Internet Society Uganda Chapter at Protea Hotel In Kampala recently.
She added that imposing tax on Social Media and Mobile Money will affect mostly the younger people who have ventured into mobile money business and are using the social media platforms to market their products since they cannot afford to advertise their business in the main stream media due to cost implications.
“The government decision will leave the greatest population of the youth jobless since the tax on mobile money is affecting their businesses; similarly tax on social media platforms cuts them off from accessing their customers especially those who have started online business like University students,“ She added.
However other participants in the dialogue said the decision will also affects many government programs especially those related to E-government being promoted by government.
Samuel Mumbere an ICT officer working with Kasese Local Government said they have been using social media to disseminate government information to the local people in the district.
“As a district we developed WhatsApp groups where we share all government information; this has helped us to communicate to the local people and also getting feedback from the public about ongoing government programs being implemented in the district. With such a tax, it will increase the cost of communication between the district and the local people “He said.
Dr. Wairagala Wakabi, from CIPESA advised government to review the policy since it will affect the process of financial inclusion in the general public since most Ugandans are not accessing financial services from the formal sector (commercial Banks).
According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Uganda had 18.8 million internet subscriptions representing 48% penetration rate as at December 2017. The bulk of Ugandans (77%) access internet via mobile; whose penetration rate stands at 65% connections per 100 inhabitants. Meanwhile, there are 23 million mobile money subscribers in the country of 37.7 million people.
It’s against this back ground that government came up with a new tax regime that introduced tax on social media and Mobile Money services knowing that the two can help government to generate more revenue to finance her budget.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO