The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has directed the cancellation of a contract that would see Parliament pay the Over the Top (OTT) tax for legislators.
Parliament had crafted an arrangement to pay the tax calculated at a monthly rate of Shs6, 000 and provide 5GB data bundles for each of the 458 legislators.
According to bid documents, up to Shs198 million would be spent on the packages, for which MTN Uganda had been selected as the best bidder. But the plan met stern resistance from the public many of who condemned Members of Parliament for demonstrating selfishness by evading a tax they imposed on Ugandans.
But Ms Kadaga told journalists at Parliament Thursday that MPs must pay their individual taxes, and that she has directed the clerk to Parliament to cancel the contract for the provision of OTT and Data services to MPs.
“On OTT, there’s nothing to negotiate. I told the clerk we are not going to accept people paying for our OTT. We should pay it ourselves and there’s no debate on that issue as far as I’m concerned,” Ms Kadaga said.
Parliament Commissioners Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro Woman MP) and Peter Ogwang (Usuk County MP) had defended the expenditure saying that it’s a way of facilitating work that requires online presence for Members of Parliament. They said that the iPads that were given to the members require active data services to be functioning.
Parliament approved the social media tax that requires every social media user in Uganda to pay a daily Shs200 in order to access social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on May 30, last year.
The tax drew outrage from several Ugandans, saying it would curtail access to information. Several lawmakers supported the social media tax, saying it would generate additional income for the government.