The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija has apologised to Parliament for reportedly disowning Mobile Money Tax.
This is after he received a letter from the Speaker that he should apologise to the House and set the record straight why he said the controversial tax was passed in error.
On Tuesday 14th June, media houses both print and electronic read headlines that ‘Kasaija Disowns New Tax on Mobile money.
“They even said that that Kasaija disowns the decision taken by Parliament, which of course I never did. When I was addressing the country on eve of the budget week which is organized by the Ministry, I was asked by journalists why we are going to charge 1% on mobile money. My quick response was that I recall there was a proposal to change the figure from 1% to 0.5% but I am going to get back to you and seek explanation on how we arrived at 1%,” Kasaija told Parliament on Thursday.
He added: “This was because my technical team hadn’t briefed me on the 1% since I had just returned from South Korea to attend the African Development Bank annual meetings. In my address, I never meant to say that Parliament passed 1% tax in error… I am part of this Parliament; I would have shot myself in the foot.”
He added that he applauded Parliament for supporting the budget process in giving the ministry and government the necessary approvals at the right time in order to steer the economy together for the good of this country.
“Before passing this budget, I stood on my foot and apologized that we had brought things haphazardly. I apologise for the statement that was attributed to me by media houses because they interpreted my message differently,” he said.
However, the House wasn’t convinced by Kasaija’s apology.
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah said Kasaija wasn’t clear to the press what he wanted to tell them and the matter was reported the way it was.
“It offended this House, if you hadn’t said anything, nobody would have misquoted you. For bringing the matter that made it possible for you as if you were misrepresented, it is because you put yourself there, you had to apologise to Parliament,” Oulanyah said.
Winfred Kiiza, the Leader of Opposition demanded for a written apology to Parliament.
“I find it a little bit discomforting that issues of the House are being turned into issues of caucus and therefore, I would pray that the Minister raises a written apology. Because everybody is conscious how he has explained, how he was misquoted and in a way, watering down the apology that was made by him. Personally, I felt used as MP that I participated in a process with guidance of a Minister, the Minister stands in broad day light and reads a budget and to the amusement of Ugandans, the Minister says, he doesn’t know how that tax was arrived at,” Kiiza said.
She added: “Does the Minister want to crucify MPs? It is even the reason why Ugandans think MPs don’t value them; don’t appreciate what they go through. I find it uncomforting that the apology that was demanded of the Minister is taken casually and yet it is affecting a serious matter because the integrity of Parliament is at stake. Ugandans will not believe it anymore.”