As the usage of mobile phones increases in Uganda, some of the law makers are proposing to increase the tax revenues by charging every mobile phone user Shs5,000 per year.
According to the daily monitor, this proposed tax would fetch about Shs 87 billion ($34.5 million) annually if adopted by Parliament in a country with an estimated number of handsets at around 17.5 million,
[signoff predefined=”Movie Review Signoff”]“Those with mobile-phones should pay Shs5,000 ($1.98) every year and the money will finance government activities,” -shadow finance minister, Mr Geoffrey Ekanya [/signoff]
In a non-surprising move, the committee approved of the idea apart from the Kole County MP Fred Ebil, who opposed the idea. For the financial year 2014/15, the government needs Shs14 trillion to run its operations- up from Shs13 trillion for this current financial year.
HOW THE TAX WAS PROPOSED
The idea came up for discussion as the committee debated a request by the Electoral Commission to have their salaries reviewed and it required Shs57.3 billion to carry out the salary changes. Since the finance ministry is constrained and there is clearly no money to make this a reality any time soon , MP Ekanya proposed the mobile phone tax as a way of raising revenue.
TAX COULD BE A BURDEN FOR PEOPLE IN RURAL AREAS
Being a developing nation we have high levels of poverty especially in rural areas, but the MPs also rejected the argument that Ugandans, especially those in the countryside, could not afford the Shs5,000.
“We used to pay service charge. This money is little. They will pay, they have the money,” Mr Bakka Mugabi (Bukooli North) said. Other said that the tax would be a motivation to work. “Some Ugandans are lazy because they don’t pay taxes. Let us put this tax and they will go and work,” he said.
The communications regulator boss Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, responding to the proposal yesterday,said “Let’s put it this way, everyone who aspire to advance in ICT, must be taxed,” forgetting that computers are not taxed to be brought into the country.