Uganda: Bushenyi Residents Protest Proposed Mobile Money Tax

A borrower carrying out a mobile money loan transaction on the Mokash platform. The platform is a joint operation by MTN and Commercial Bank of Africa.

Bushenyi residents, mobile money operators, civil society organisations and political leaders have protested government's proposal of transaction value taxation on mobile money saying it is a bad and unnecessary idea.

During a press conference held in Bushenyi town, on Tuesday, the protesters led by Mr Lee Apollo Kakonge, executive director Western Ankole Civil Society Forum said that the proposal has setbacks in a sense that citizens and business operators will be overtaxed to keep the government in power as citizens are stopped from flourishing economically and in other aspects.

"Such taxes are not good because they are meant to keep government in power as citizens are left nowhere," he said.

Mr. Kakonge told journalists, that mobile money had reduced criminality related to petty cash thefts in homes and societies and taxing mobile money transactions will bring back the burden of people losing their money to thieves.

He added that mobile money transactions had helped the common man in the villages who have been sending and receiving small amounts of money for food and medicine. He argued that taxing the service will see the common man suffer.

"Most of these transactions are small, not even above Shs50,000 because this money is normally sent to people to help them in buying food, medicine and others but now people are going to suffer because they will not be able to send and receive money due to taxation," said Mr Kakonge.

Mr Pison Mugizi, a business man in Bushenyi town advised that government should levy more taxes on luxurious items like beer and spirits instead of suffocating low income earners. He added that taxing luxurious items could even help government get more money.

Mr Paul Kahiigi, a seasoned politician appealed to government to spare the common man and levy taxes on foreign investors who have many times been offered tax holidays.

"We have seen government offer tax holidays to foreign investors. Why doesn't it make them pay those taxes instead of taxing low income earners?" he told journalists.

The residents recommended that Members of the 9th Parliament say no to the proposed taxes on mobile money transactions so that the common man in society can live well and have a conducive atmosphere.

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