The President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni has asked the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, to impose a tax on the use of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Viber. According to the head of state, this new tax will not only increase the tax revenues of the state, but also fight the gossip that harms the image of the country.
In a letter sent to the Minister of Finance, President Museveni indicates that he does not intend to “propose a tax on the use of the Internet for educational, research or reference purposes […] but on social networks (opinions, prejudices, insults, friendly conversations) and Google ads and I do not know who else has to pay tax because we need resources to deal with the consequences of their gossip”.
The proposal of the Head of State is to introduce a daily “small fee” of 100 Ugandan shillings ($ 0.0271) on the SIM cards used to access WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Viber. He estimates that this would generate about 400 billion shillings ($ 108,360,638) for the state coffers. The amount of tax to be levied will be estimated based on the number of minutes spent by Ugandans on social networks and over-the-top (OTT) applications. Matia Kasaija, the finance minister, said the details of the new tax will be contained in the new draft finance law presented to parliament.
For telecom companies and consumers, this new tax desired by the government does not pass. It is considered dangerous to the extent that it will increase the tax burden on subscribers to telecom services, especially the Internet, which already pay for the recharge card, calls, data.