President Yoweri Museveni

Government has insisted on charging Shs 100 for every Ugandan to access social media platforms, with arguments that it will contribute towards the transformation of the economy.

According to Bahati, when action is taken, the government will generate over Shs 400 billion which will be for economic transformation of Uganda’s economy.

Early this month, President Yoweri Museveni ordered for levying taxes from social media users to access various platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Viber. According to President Museveni, owners of social media platforms make money without giving back to community.

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Speaking to journalists at Uganda Media Centre, the Minister of State for Finance and Planning David Bahati said the Shs 100 will be levied on sim cards daily for social media users to use applications optimally.

“This will not only be applicable from social media users, however there is a proposal to increase tax on fuel by Shs 100 which will be for the construction of roads,” Bahati said.

He added: “These tax measures take effect on July 1st, 2018, we are increasing the excise duty from Shs1000 to Shs1, 500 and this will be on the company (telecommunications).

Since Museveni introduced the Shs100 levy proposal, it has attracted criticism from various political analysts, who argue that taxing social media users will not promote ‘local content’.  Instead, they argue, government should strategically invest in Information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and support local ICT hubs and individuals to promote local content.

The Lord Mayor for Kampala Erias Lukwago noted that taxing social media will limit information consumption to the public and will limit freedom of speech and free expression.