Telecoms remitted a combined sum of Shs4.4b collected from social media tax in the month of July, failing to hit the target of Shs8.3b, according to figures obtained from different government sources.
According to available data, Shs24b, which was collected from mobile money tax in July was in the same measure remitted to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on August 15.
Daily Monitor could not independently verify the figures but they were corroborated by different officials in the Finance Ministry and URA, who asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorised to speak for the two institutions.
Last month, Mr David Bahati, the Finance state minister, told journalists that government would collect Shs100b from the social media tax also known as over the top tax.
However, data indicates that only Shs4.4b was collected against an average target of Shs8.3b.
Government intends to collect about Shs100b in this financial year from social media tax, which means that URA has a target of at least Shs8.3b every month.
Mr Hudson Kalema, the URA acting commissioner for public and corporate affairs, could not confirm the figure, saying: “I have to work through a process to get you accurate information ... that would need a minimum of 48 hours,” he said.
In a letter written to Finance minister in March, President Museveni had projected that government would at least collect Shs400b alone from social media users, reasoning that is would be another way to widen the tax base.
However, this figure was later revised to Shs100b.
The social media tax has faced a lot of resistance with many users opting to maneuver around the tax by using virtual private networks (VPN) to access blocked social media sites.
In an interview recently, Mr Abdusalam Waiswa, the Uganda Communications Commission director for legal affairs, told Daily Monitor they were working on blocking VPN access but were challenged by recurring creations of multiple access points from unknown destination.
“It has been a challenge because of the creation of multiple VPN [access points] and the difference in jurisdiction,” he said.
The two collections from social media and mobile money tax were remitted on August 15, as stipulated by the tax law.
The social media tax was one of the new taxes that were introduced in the 2018/19 financial year after the amendment of the Excise Duty law.
The law also introduced a 1 per cent charge on all mobile money transactions, which raised a lot of debate.
The charge has since been recalled and is currently undergoing a review in Parliament.
President Museveni has since said that there was an error as Cabinet had only agreed on 0.5 per cent and not 1 per cent.
Mr Val Oketcho, the MTN corporate communications manager and Ms Sumin Namaganda, the Airtel public relations manager, declined to comment on the figures, citing client confidentiality.
Credit: Daily Monitor