By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: The Parliament of Uganda has canceled a contract that it had signed with giant telecom MTN to provide Over The Top (OTT) tax to Members of Parliament.
This comes after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed the cancellation of a contract that would otherwise see poor tax payers pay OTT tax for the greedy mps.
Parliament had crafted an arrangement to pay the tax calculated at a monthly rate of Shs6,000 and provide 5GB data bundles for each of the 458 legislators. According to bid documents, up to Shs198 million would be spent on the packages, for which MTN Uganda had been selected as the best bidder. But the plan met stern resistance from the public many of whom condemned the Mps for demonstrating selfishness by evading a tax they imposed on Ugandans themselves.
However, Kadaga told journalists at Parliament on Thursday that MPs must pay their individual taxes, and that she had directed the clerk to Parliament to cancel the contract for the provision of OTT and Data services to MPs. Parliament Commissioners Robinah Nabbanja and Peter Ogwang had defended the expenditure, saying that it’s a way of facilitating work that requires online presence for Members of Parliament.
They argued that the iPads that were given to them require active data services to be functioning. Parliament approved the social media tax that requires every social media user in Uganda to pay a daily rate of Shs200 in order to access social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on May 30, last year. The tax drew outrage from several Ugandans, saying it would curtail access to information.
However, majority legislators supported the tax, saying it would generate additional income for the government, although others vehemently rejected it. A few months back Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was arrested and jailed at Luzira prisons for allegedly staging unlawful protests against the OTT.