Sauti ya Vijana loosely translated as voice of the youth, an activist group has given government a five day ultimatum to rescind the social media and mobile money taxes or else the outcomes will be dire.
There has been a public uproar since July 1 when the new shs200 per day tax for social media users and one percent on mobile money transactions came into effect.
However, according to Julius Bwanika, the group’s director of operations, the new taxes are not fair because they are only meant to cripple Ugandans financially and not helping the country develop.
“They violate the principles of fairness, neutrality and equality which form the basic principles of taxation,” said Bwanika while addressing journalists in Kampala on Tuesday.
“The social media tax infringe on the people’s right to access information and freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution and we cannot look on as government wants to take away this fundamental right and freedom.”
The group said the mobile money tax is only punitive and meant to discourage the public from using mobile money as opposed to traditional banking services, a thing they said is wrong.
They argued that mobile money services are accessed by many including those in rural areas, adding that putting a one percent tax on transactions would cripple a number of businesses.
“This is a clear indication that the middle income status by the NRM government is a lie but only a scheme aiming at bringing Ugandans into total confusion,” said Peter Mukiibi, the Sauti ya Vijana director in charge of research and information.
The group issued a five day ultimatum to government to rescind what they termed as a diabolical tax policy adding that failure to do so would compel them to mobilize the people to protest against the unpopular taxes.
“Failure to do so, we shall mobilise Ugandans who are not able to afford these exorbitant taxes and offer them alternatives to forego the tax,”Mukiibi said.
A number of Ugandans have since the effecting of the social media and mobile money taxes expressed concern over what they termed as a deliberate move to deny citizens access to information especially through social media.
The Uganda Communications Commission Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi on Monday defended the social media tax as being a good one and will enable government benefit from “these American” companies that have been making billions of money through social media .
“We believe that this is a good tax. Social media technologies have been investing all this time. These are American companies that make billions and there is no problem for us to benefit,”Mutabazi told journalists.
“We have been complaining that we are losing money. This decision by government is the right decision.”
He however noted that government will review the progress of the social media tax after two weeks of its implementation.