Ugandans who are currently unable to have access to internet because they lack Smartphones have all reasons to smile.
This is because the Government of Uganda through ministry of ICT & National Guidance and National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U) has made steps to scrap taxes on Smartphones.
James Saaka, the Executive Director at NITA-U revealed this while appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on ICT to present and defend the Authority’s Budget Framework Paper for 2018/19.
Accompanied by other Authority officials, Saaka told the committee headed by Tororo North County, Annet Nyakecho that in a bid to increase internet usage, NITA-U in conjunction with the ministry of ICT & National Guidance have agreed to bring a proposal to parliament to remove taxes on Smartphones.
“We have lowered the cost of internet and that is good, but today of the 25m subscribers we have in the country, only about 4m smartphones are available because they are expensive and yet we are moving much things online so that instead of coming to offices, people use their smartphones,” Saaka said, adding: “If those devices are not affordable, then we are hitting ourselves on the foot. So we need to remove taxes on the smartphones so that they are affordable so that a common man in Nakapiripirit can afford one and can for example process his permit or passport.”
He noted that the ICT ministry will soon present the proposal to the cabinet before it is brought to parliament.
“This is a policy issue and we only give an input, but the ministry is working on it so that we can get it through cabinet,” Saaka said.
Ugandans pay VAT (Value Added Tax) and Excise Duty on every product consumed or bought to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in compliance with the Excise Duty Act, 2014.
“If you take off VAT and Excise Duty, then a smartphone that costs about Shs200,000 or Shs300,000 will even be cheaper and that is what we want,” he said.