James Waluswaka, MP Bunyole West, has advised Ugandans to go hand themselves if they don’t want to pay social media tax.
“If you don’t want to pay tax, you just die. We are tired of these loans and grants from European countries,” Waluswaka is quoted as saying while his colleagues expressed mixed reactions to the public’s reaction to the newly introduced taxes on social media and mobile money.
He encouraged the public to pay the taxes to ensure that they get better services from the government.
But opposition Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] says its position has always been putting people centred policies at the fore front of policy making.
“Our loyal MPs represented the people in plenary! Here below is what our MPs led by the Leader of Opposition said during the debate on the Excise Duty 2018 Bill!” the party said in a statement.
Atkins Katusabe (FDC, Bukonjo County West, Kasese) totally opposed the report saying it violates and contradicts all the principles, practice and the structure of taxation.
“The projected collection already is Shs 155 billion. Chairperson Committee on Budget, you are fully aware that this country loses up to Shs 600 billion in procurement fraud and corruption alone. (Applause) What does that mean? Shs 155 billion can be got from the Shs 600 billion that we lose to procurement fraud and we will still have a balance of Shs 455 billion.”
He added: “Therefore, we are losing more to corruption but we want those that are trying to survive – Mr Speaker, I don’t want to be part of a House that works so hard to strangle those Ugandans out there that are trying to survive. Thank you very much.”
Gershom Sizomu (FDC, Bungokho County North, Mbale also opposed the one per cent tax because it targets the poor.
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“I do not need mobile money because I have my ATM card; I am rich and can easily access money compared to the poor people in my constituency.”
He went on: “If you levy a one per cent tax, it will limit the flow of money from the rich to the poor thereby increasing income inequality. This tax is going to make the poor Ugandans poorer.”
According to Sizomu, Shs 200 is going to compound to billions of money; so, a tax that targets poor people should not be entertained.
“I suggest that it should be abandoned.”
The Leader of the Opposition (Ms Winfred Kiiza) said the country needs money but it is the desire of the people’s leaders to ensure that they give the population the best.
“We need services, we need healthcare, we need improvement of agriculture, we need infrastructure but how do we get the money to lead us to where we would like to go? We need taxes but from whom? Time and again, the issue of tax exemption for those who are supposed to pay the real tax that would redeem us from poverty has been coming up here.”
Mr Speaker, just the other day, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development was asking this House to exempt big corporations from paying corporate tax, which is money on profit, she said.
“I would imagine that these telecommunication companies that are enabling our poor people to access services through mobile money transfers earn profits, which would be used for corporation tax. However, the minister of Finance was asking us to exempt them.”
“Members talked about the banking sector collapsing. The Uganda National Bureau of Standards put the banking sector in the country at Shs 5 million out of the 34.5 million Ugandans. The rest of the population depends entirely on accessing money through mobile money. In my district, for example –(Interruption)
MS AOL: Mr Speaker, I would like to get one thing clear and also to propose. We have this transactional fee which is now even a burden on us; what If we decide to reduce on that and let part of it become the tax that we need? I suggest this because people are now overburdened by that transactional fee.”
FDC believes that when an MP betrays the People’s will it is within the power of the voters to punish that individual MP for failing to put the people first.