By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: Whereas millions of Ugandans are paying Over the top tax (OTT) commonly known as Social Media tax, it has been established that Members of Parliament do not want to pay this tax,instead the common Ugandan tax payers, through the government of Uganda, are the ones to pay for them!
This comes after Spy Uganda learning that MTN Uganda recently scooped a deal to supply data to Parliamentarians for their IPads, which will be paid for by Parliament. A document seen by our reporter indicates that parliament will pay monthly Shillings 6000 for OTT alias social media tax and Shs30,000 for 5GB data bundles for each of the 458 legislators. This means that parliament will spend Shs197.8M annually on social media tax and data bundles. MTN Uganda Limited emerged the best bidder, according to the bid documents displayed on May 2nd, 2019, beating Airtel Uganda and Africell Uganda. Robina Nabanja, the Kakumiro Woman MP and member of the Parliamentary Commission defended the move, saying it is right for the House to pay for the legislator’s OTT and provide them data since they are doing people’s work on Ipads provided through tax payers’ money.
“This is purely work, we are working for Ugandans. That is why MPs can put data and pay OTT for their personal phones and personal work. But for Parliament business and access to social media for Parliament business, MPs are not supposed to inject in their money,” she said. However, efforts to contact Parliament’s Department of communications for a comment about this matter was futile as Director of Communications, Chris Obore couldn’t be reached by press time. On May 30th last year, Parliament approved the social media tax that requires every social media user in Uganda to pay Shs200 to access social media pages such as Facebook, twitter and instagram. The tax sparked off protests from various sections of Ugandans and many were arrested. Actually, People Power leader MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was recently arrested and charged with holding unlawful protests against the social media tax. He is currently out on bail after being remanded to Luzira prisons for a week by Buganda Road Court for staging social media protests. However, it should be noted that several Members of Parliament supported the introduction of the Social Media tax, as if they knew that the burden of paying it would be borne by Ugandans.