Precedent. One MP claimed that these Bills on social media taxes were passed on the floor of Parliament when he was absent minded! Why didn’t the legislators ask for funds to carry out consultations with the electorates about these taxes, just like it was before the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill on presidential age limit?
Members of Parliament from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party this week received Shs3m each to drum up support for the party flag bearers in the forthcoming Local Council I elections which are due to be held on Tuesday.
The government has also declared the day a public holiday to allow all willing Ugandans to participate in the election.
According to NRM secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba, the funds are to help MPs organise constituency conferences at sub-country level and hire tents and public address systems for these conferences in their areas.
All this shows the importance the party attaches to the elections at village level.
The release of Shs900m for mobilisation comes at a time when the public is up in arms over the newly introduced controversial taxes on social media and mobile money transactions.
The new taxes were introduced following the passing of the Public Finance Management Act, besides a number of tax Bills by Parliament, without adequate consultations of the different stakeholders as has now come to the fore.
What has surprised me is the fact that following the public uproar, a section of MPs have denounced these taxes and vowed to fight them to force the government to review the policy.
One MP claimed that these Bills on social media taxes were passed on the floor of Parliament when he was absent minded!
Why didn’t the legislators ask for funds to carry out consultations with the electorates about these taxes, just like it was before the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill on presidential age limit?
How does the Government Chief Whip and the ruling party leadership determine which issue needs to be consulted on by MPs using extra funds outside the known parliamentary allowances?
Besides, could lack of sufficient consultations on these taxes be responsible for the panic within government following the nationwide criticism against the taxes?
In his statement, the President says the tax on mobile money was supposed to be 0.5 per cent. He even goes on to tell his followers the advantages of these taxes. Is the new presidential revelation part of the public finance act that was passed?
The presidential explanation came moments before the tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority, issued a statement indicating that the approved tax on mobile money was one per cent of the transaction.
Surprisingly, URA’s public notice also contradicted the earlier statement from State minister for Planning David Bahati who said that the contentious taxes would be reviewed after two weeks.
Without going into the details of the statements, don’t these statements indicate lack of planning and coordination on the part of government?
This has led to some people on social media to assume that the NRM government is likely to scrap the social media tax and mobile money taxes as a gift to voters before the next general election just like it was the case when government scrapped graduated tax.
Mr Acemah returns next week