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UGANDA IMPOSES WHATSAPP AND FACEBOOK TAX ‘TO STOP GOSSIP’

KAMPALA-- Uganda's parliament has passed a law to impose a controversial tax on people using social media platforms.

It imposes a 200 shilling daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Twitter.

President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the changes, arguing that social media encouraged gossip.

The law should come into effect on July 1.

The new Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill will also impose various other taxes, including a 1% levy on the total value of mobile money transactions - which civil society groups complain will affect poorer Ugandans who rarely use banking services.

State Minister for Finance David Bahati told parliament that the tax increases were needed to help Uganda pay off its growing national debt.

Museveni pushed for the social media law back in March. He wrote a letter to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija insisting that the revenue collected by the social media tax would help the country "cope with consequences of olugambo [gossiping]".

But he argued there should be no tax on internet data as it was useful for "educational, research or reference purposes".

Social media have become an important political tool in Uganda for both the ruling party and the opposition.

Access to platforms was shut during presidential elections in 2016. President Museveni insisted at the time that it was done to "stop spreading lies".

Other East African countries are passing similar laws.

Tanzania's government won a court case on 29 May against opponents of new regulations requiring bloggers to pay a licence fee and disclose their financial backers.

In Kenya, a new cybercrime law came into force on May 30.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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