Mobile Money Tax Lacks Basis - ICT Body

 
 
 

KAMPALA

The Information and Communication Technology Association of Uganda (ICTAU) has issued a statement asking government to reconsider the recently introduced taxes on Mobile Money and Over-The-Top (OTT) services.

ICTAU is an umbrella association that brings together organisations and key ICT Stakeholders in areas of research and advocacy for policies concerning adoption and usage of new technologies by Ugandans.

ICTAU chairman Albert Mucunguzi says in a statement issued today and published on the organisation's website, that the new taxes were enacted without sufficient deliberation or consultation and are not supported by evidence-based research.

Mucunguzi warns that the taxes could constrain the development of Uganda's "industry, economy, and society."

Mucunguzi says ICTAU has resolved to support domestic and international efforts to repeal these taxes, including the legal petition launched by the Cyber Law Initiative. The ICT association is calling for a dialogue involving the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance together with its agencies - Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) on the matter.

Government introduced a one-percent tax on mobile money transactions and 200 shillings daily on social media users effective July 1, 2018, when the 2018/2019 financial year budget came into force.

There's been a public outcry from activists, business community and policy makers saying the taxes are ill-timed, unfair and disproportionate.

This appears to be the same argument ICTAU is advancing in their statement. They argue that the flat tax on social media and other common internet services will disproportionately affect the large number of Ugandans who live in poverty, "further widening the digital divide, while limiting the public's ability to access information, communicate and express themselves."

ICTAU further notes that the new taxes on Mobile Money transactions will make these financial services less accessible to vulnerable populations.

Mucunguzi says both taxes show a lack of a predictable policy development process and threaten to make Uganda a less attractive destination for investment. He adds that both taxes may negatively impact the education sector by increasing the cost of common activities carried out by students and teachers.

Several schools have embraced the Mobile Money-based tuition payment methods through banks such as Centenary Bank. Under these methods, money is deposited from a mobile phone onto a school bank account.

Mucunguzi further notes that additional charges added to Mobile Money in particular threaten the survival of innovative companies in the digital payments space, commonly referred to as fintech, and make it more difficult for innovators to create new solutions within that ecosystem.

The increased cost of using Mobile Money services, he says, could encourage people to revert to cash and the informal economy. This in turn could decrease the ability of Government, businesses and individuals to monitor and account for economic activity.

He says many members of the public are still ignorant about the new taxes due to the lack of consultation and sensitisation.

 
 

Luweero Transfers Over 70 Civil Servants

 
 
 

LUWERO

The Luweero Chief Administrative Officer, Godfrey Kuruhiira has transferred more than 70 civil servants in an attempt to reorganise and improve service delivery. Among those affected by the transfer are the town clerks of Luweero, Wobulenzi and Bombo town councils.

The transfer has seen Irene Nakamatte, the former Wobulenzi Town Clerk move to Luweero town council. Lydia Nabaasa has moved in to take the place left by Nakamatte in Wobulenzi as caretaker town clerk. Nabaasa was recalled recently from Bombo town council to the district because of clashing with politicians in the town council.

The former Luweero Town Clerk, Muluuta Mugagga has moved to Bombo town council. Edith Nakigudde, a senior Community Development Officer, moves from Luweero District headquarters to Bombo town council. While the Chief Finance Officer, William Kibirige have been appointed Internal Auditor and has been replaced by Florence Namubiru. The transfer has also affected all sub county Community Development Officers and town engineers.

According to a July 02, 2018 list issued by the Luweero Chief Administrative Officer, Godfrey Kuruhiira, the transfer has also affected 43 lower officers including secretaries, office typists, office attendants and record officers. The Luweero District Human Resource Officer, Bernard Okello, told URN that the transfers are aimed at reorganizing the staff structure and fill up gaps in certain departments.

He says some of the affected staff had overstayed in certain positions contrary to public standing orders, which stipulate that a civil servant shouldn't serve in one office for more than three years. According to Okello, the performance of some of the staff had declined because of overstaying in the same positions.

He says the transfers will be conducted in phases covering all departments in a bid to streamline their operations. There more than 133 staff deployed in the town councils, Sub County and Luweero district headquarters. Some of the transferred civil servants have already received their posting instructions requiring them to report to their new stations not later than July 14th, 2018.

The transfers have triggered anxiety among staff in local governments. Some are bitter that they have transferred to distant areas far away from their homes, which is costly while others have lost "juicy" positions. Ronald Ndawula, the Luweero LC 5 Chairman, says those who don't want to move should resign and be replaced by new graduates.

He says the district executive endorsed the transfers after carefully studying service delivery and found some staffs were under performing because they had overstayed in their positions. He also accused some staff of picking quarrels with their supervisors, saying the transfers will create harmony in such offices.

Osman Kassim, the Bombo town council LC 3 Chairperson has welcomed the changes promising to work with the new staff to develop the town. Osman says there was a decline in service delivery because of the conflicts between technical staff and politicians. This is the largest transfer in past decades majorly targeting local government staff.

The previous transfer mainly targeted teachers and health workers.

 
 

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