The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah has said that the proponents of the social media and mobile money taxes sought funds for development purposes.
Oulanyah who was speaking at the launch of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) Report on the State of the Rule of Law at the Kampala Serena Hotel, today 03 July 2018 said he was presenting the arguments that were made in the House as MPs considered the tax laws.
“They argued that we have a shortfall in the budget and the social media tax sought to address this. They added that It would improve health care, infrastructure and other services,” Oulanyah who was the presiding officer then said.
Oulanyah added that before ULS sues government over the social media tax, they should wait and see how the collections help improve the economy. He added that failure to improve the national economy, Parliament would be forced to review the tax.
“These are annual laws that can be reviewed when government brings the Budget Framework Paper for the next financial year,” he added.
On 01 July 2018, government introduced a tax on all social media platforms and the transfer of funds through mobile money services. A section of civil society organizations have already filed cases challenging the taxes.
The President of Uganda Law Society, Simon Peter Kinobe, was unhappy that despite the fact that Parliament solicits for views from the public on various proposed laws, it never considers them.
“Views on the mobile money tax were solicited from the public but were never considered by Parliament. This tax sees a client paying tax thrice. This is wrong and we are going to court to see that this is rectified,” he said.
Kinobe said that the ULS Report on the State of the Rule of Law seeks to address the violation of human rights in the country.
“The right to life has been threatened as in the recent incidents that the country has experienced. We call upon the different stakeholders to ensure that the law is upheld,” Kinobe said.
Kinobe further informed the meeting that the Society had formed a Litigation Unit charged with investigating cases where suspects are held for over the constitutional 48 hours before being charged in court.
“We shall be looking at the delay in trials and detaining suspects for more than 48 hours. If we take an example of the former Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura and Mukono Municipality MP, Hon. Betty Nambooze, their rights have been infringed upon.”
The State of the Rule of Law in Uganda was a mechanism that was adopted by the ULS in its strategic plan for the achievement and enjoyment of good governance.