By Innocent Atuganyira
A section of civil society leaders in Masindi District want the government to scrap off the 12% tax imposed on the internet.
This was disclosed on Friday during a civil society policy brief on digital rights in Uganda at Country Inn Hotel Masindi.
The stakeholders meeting was organized by Recreation for Peace and Development (RDP) Uganda and was attended by among others, the Municipality Member of Parliament Hon Joab Businge Abwooli, Masindi LC5 Chairman Cosmas Byaruhanga, LC3 Chairman Central Division Isaac Bongomin, District leaders, Activists among other leaders within the District.
The civil society policy brief was presented by Executive Director Bunyoro choice Uganda Mr. Kyotasobora Phenhance which entailed the digital rights of citizens, freedom of expression and opinion, Freedom of information, Right to data protection and privacy on the internet and the recommendations to the Government of the Republic of Uganda.
According to Mr. Kyotasobora, there is shrinking civil space within the District and Uganda at large.
In May 2018, Ugandan parliament passed legislation that introduced a tax on the use of the so-called OTT which started operating on 1st July 2018 and one would pay 200 Ugandan shillings to access social media platforms, later last year, the government scraped off the OTT tax and imposed 12% tax on the internet.
According to the Executive Director RDP Uganda, Ms. Namata Lydia, the meeting was to create an enabling environment for civil society servants through the use of the Internet.
According to LC3 Central Division Mr. Bongomin Isaac, it is because of high taxes imposed on the internet, many Ugandans have been able to abandon the internet.
Bongomin has called upon the Government to scrap off the tax in order to enhance the education system in the country.
“Many Ugandans have been able to abandon the internet due to the high taxes imposed, the government should scrap off the tax in order to enhance the education system in the country,’’ he said.
The Masindi district LCV Chairperson Cosmas Byaruhanga challenged the government officials to sensitize people in rural areas on the usage of the internet.
“There is a need for the government officials to sensitize the people in rural communities on internet usage, most of them are ignorant of internet usage,’’ he said.
However, the Municipality Member of Parliament Joab Businge Abwooli said locals at the grass root lack the necessary gadgets to access the internet and he further asserted that the few who have access to the internet cannot afford the daily data.
The politician also recounted that, if the Government wants quick and genuine information from citizens, they ought to minimize taxes.
During the meeting, participants said citizens should pay taxes to enable the government to finance the budget for the country, however others said taxes should not be a burden to the citizens.
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