The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the taxing body mandated to collect taxes and avail them to the state coffers has hinted at taxing mobile data, given it remains the one mobile service exempted from taxes. This was revealed to the parliament’s finance committee by a delegation led by Doris Akol, the commissioner general of URA according to Uganda Radio Network.
This — after a drop in excise duty on phone calls owing to consumers switching to Over The Air (OTA) communication tools like VoIP calls. The Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, Messenger effect seems to be finally biting! Not only to the telcos that are some of the biggest taxpayers in the country but the state itself through URA. If telcos seem not to remit large tax volumes to the state as they used to given the onerous effect of OTA services to their conventional voice calls and SMS revenue.
URN reports that Henry Saka, URA’s commissioner Domestic taxes says they’re in talks with the Finance ministry to explore ways to implement that tax. Once the tax is effected, the Telcos might have to push the burden to the end users that subscribe to their mobile data either through reduced data volume or outright increase the cost of data bundles.Nevertheless they can feel the pinch and let it go something that is unlikely if the proceedings come into fruition.
The uptake of OTA services is a public secret that doesn’t do well with telecoms, given they are now reduced to being a mere pipeline through which we access data for these services that flourish. Earlier this year we hinted at this and requested that they look for other avenues to makeup for the projected losses.
While consumers cry foul over prohibitive data prices, this supposed move will further curtail all efforts made to see a reduction in data prices even with intensified competition within this space.