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Activists across Uganda denounce new tax on social media users

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Civil society organizations and rights activists on Friday criticized Uganda’s legislators for passing a controversial bill that imposes a daily tax on social media users in the country.

Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, told Xinhua in an interview that the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill 2018, which imposes a mandatory daily tax of 200 shillings (0.05 U.S. dollars) for social media users is unwarranted and unnecessary on tax payers.

"It is a restriction on people’s individual freedom to express themselves and communicate freely since it makes access costly and prohibitive," said Sewanyana.

"It is a double tax since we pay for airtime.

"Such a tax should be rejected.

"The bill once passed into law will be subjected to court litigation to determine its constitutionality," he said.

The lawmakers on Wednesday passed the bill two months after President Yoweri Museveni in March announced that the government was planning to introduce taxes on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, and Viber, on alleged grounds that people were using them mainly for gossip.

Chris Obore, director of communications and public affairs at Uganda’s Parliament, told Xinhua that the bill was passed to enable the government to raise revenues to offer social services.

"The bill originated from the executive which runs government. Parliament has passed it basing on the reasons the executive advanced in order to run government," said Obore.

The proposed excise duty law, which takes effect from July 1, 2018, also imposes 1 percent levy on the mobile money transactions, which includes cash deposits and withdrawals using a mobile phone aimed at growing domestic budget financing.

Uganda has 23,529,290 mobile phone subscribers, according to the recent report of the Ugandan Communications Commission.


Ugandan car dealers welcome bill banning
importation of vehicles over 15 years old

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Ugandan car dealers on Friday welcomed the proposed law banning the importation of cars manufactured more than 15 years ago.

Marvin Ayebale, secretary general of Associated Motor Dealers, said there must be a limit on every sort of junk coming into the country.

Chris Obore, the director of communications and public affairs at Uganda’s Parliament, told Xinhua that bill is aimed at promoting road safety.

"The essence (of the bill) is to regulate traffic and promote road safety in the country," said Obore.

The East African country registers at least 20,000 accidents with over 2,000 deaths each year, making it one of the countries with the highest road accident fatality rates in the world, according to police figures.

The act exempts heavy vehicles such as breakdown lorries, crane lorries, road sweeper lorries, fire fighting vehicles, concrete mixer lorries, spraying lorries, mobile workshops and forklifts among others.

Armored vehicles, agricultural and forestry tractors will also be exempted.

Uganda boxing federation bans top officials for 12 years

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- The Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) has banned three of its top officials for 12 years, warning that any boxing club that associates with them risks getting the same penalty.

Moses Muhangi, president UBF told Xinhua on Thursday that the General Assembly of the Federation decided to ban Fred Kavuma, vice president in charge of administration, former UBF trustees Kenneth Gimugu and Paul Ayasi for what it called unbecoming behaviors.

The trio last year took the Federation to court, a move the other members of UBF said was putting the sport into disrepute. They argued that they should have gone to the gazetted sports arbitration courts.

Muhangi said the three will not be allowed in any boxing activity warning that any club that associates with them will also be banned.

Government last year suspended the boxing body over the disappearance of three players who had traveled to Germany for the 2017 AIBA World boxing championship.


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