There was free drama in Parliament on Wednesday when MPs on the Finance Committee threw out a group of Civil Society activists from Tax Justice Alliance Uganda after they criticized the size of the current Parliament, saying it is bloated and affecting public expenditure.
The activists had come to give their views on the Excise Duty Amendment Bill (No.2), where Government is proposing to reduce the tax on mobile money from 1% to 0.5% on mobile money withdrawals.
The activists started their presentation by highlighting the effects of the Shs200 daily Social Media tax, something the Committee chaired by Henry Musasizi rejected, stating that the subject isn’t part of their menu.
The team rejected the 0.5% tax on mobile money and advised Government to look at other avenues of generating income by looking back at the expenditure.
“Check public administration expenditure particularly the oversized cabinet, bloated Parliament, extensive network of presidential advisors and presidential assistants and a host of quasi-public service appointments such as RDCs that undermine cost efficiency,” the statement read.
This angered Musasizi, saying: “Don’t ask me for time and tell me this Parliament is useless, if it is useless, why do you come? Good thing you withdrew it, otherwise, it was going to be used against you. You should know your audience.”
In their statement, the activists pointed out that the tax introduced are symptoms of Uganda’s ailing economy and goes beyond the face value, an argument that was rejected by some MPs who wondered how activists expect Government to run the country if they are the same people criticizing the new tax proposals, foreign borrowing yet are quick to tell Government how the resources should be allocated.
The activists agreed to withdraw their statement and bring to Parliament a new one, but Committee MPs forced them to go away with their copies and not leave a piece behind Parliament.