President Museveni has placed Shs100m daily tax on social media platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Viber.
This will amount to Shs1.4 trillion annually, according to a March 12 letter to Finance minister Matia Kasaija.
In his argument, the president says the tax will regulate the amount of gossip [lugambo] being spread on social media.
“I am not going to propose a tax on internet use for educational, research or reference purposes… these must remain free. However, olugambo on social media (opinions, prejudices, insults, friendly chats) and advertisements by Google and I do not know who else must pay tax because we need resources to cope with the consequences of their lugambo,” reads Museveni’s letter.
He adds: “If we were to introduce a small fee of Uganda Shs100 per day from sim-cards that are used by these “over-the-top” platforms (OTTs) such as WhatsApp, Skype Viber, Twitter, etc, that would generate about Shs400 billion additional revenue.”
The president has also proposed new taxes on telephones data transmission and the housing sector which he says generates rented incomes but are not adequately taxed.
“The big losses on telephones are in three areas: not collecting excise duty on airtime and only collecting VAT, missing many calls because you depend on false declarations by telephone companies and not taxing voice conversations and other non-educational communications over the internet (via social media, whatsApp, face book etc). Why not put excise duty on (internet) air time?” he wrote.
MPs like Nandala Mafabi (Budadiri West) and Masaka Municipality Member of Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga, have since vowed to block what they ridiculed as “WhatsApp tax”.