Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has defended the country’s new social media tax, saying in a Facebook post that users had been enriching foreign-owned telecoms companies without benefiting the national economy.
He also said taxes on mobile money transactions would be charged at a rate of 0.5%, rather than the 1% initially announced. He said this was due “to a miscommunication”, but Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper says it was lowered following public outcry.
Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google Hangout, YouTube, Skype and Yahoo Messenger are among the platforms identified by Uganda’s revenue service for the daily tax of $0.05 (£0.04).
In his statement posted on Facebook, President Museveni called social media a “luxury by those who are enjoying themselves or those who are malicious…all the moral reasons are in favour of that tax”.
He added that Ugandan social media users were “endlessly donating money to foreign telephone companies through chatting or even lying”.
The new law has provoked outrage in Uganda.
Critics say it amounts to censorship and that the daily levy is too expensive for most Ugandans.
A group of Ugandan lawyers and journalists filed a petition against the new tax earlier this week, calling it unconstitutional and contrary to “individual rights and freedoms”.
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