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Uganda to review decision on social media tax

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Uganda Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has announced the decision to review imposed taxes on the use of social media and mobile money transaction, following a public backlash.

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“Government is now reviewing the taxes taking into consideration the concerns of the public and its implications on the budget,” Rugunda said in a statement.

“The president has provided guidance on the matter and encouraged further discussion with a view to reaching consensus on how we should raise the much needed revenue to finance our budget.”

Rugunda made the announcement soon after police broke up a protest against the taxes.

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President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the taxes to boost government revenue and to end “gossip” on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

The social media tax is 200 Uganda shillings [$0.05, £0.04].

Activists argue that while the amount may seem little, it represents a significant slice of what poorer people are paying for getting online.

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Critics accused the president of trying to stifle dissenting voices.

The social media tax targets the use of what are described as Over The Top (OTT) services, which offer “voice and messaging over the internet”, according to a previous statement by telecom companies.

Users are asked to make an electronic payment before they can access the sites

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A revised budget is due to be tabled in parliament on 19 July.

The protest was led by popular Ugandan singer and independent MP Robert Kyagulanyi, and Presidential candidate Bobi Wine.

Bobi Wine said on Twitter that police tried to arrest him, but failed after protesters rallied around him.

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Ruhakana RugundaUganda
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