A section of Ugandans are bitter after Parliamentary Commission awarded MTN Uganda a contract worth Shs197m to provide monthly 5GB data for each MP amounting to Shs30,000.
MTN will also to provide monthly Over The Top Tax (OTT) aka Social Media Tax worth Shs6000 for each MP.
However, Ugandans and members of the Civil Society argue that the MPs should be in position to pay for themselves. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has also said she isn’t aware of the contract, noting that MPs should pay OTT for themselves.
Against the above background, Peter Ogwang (in featured photo), a Parliamentary Commissioner and Usuk County MP has come out to explain why Ugandans should pay the data and OTT for their lawmakers.
Addressing the Press at Parliament today, Ogwang said MPs pay taxes, adding that they supported the Social Media Tax “because we wanted Government to raise money to improve service delivery. So there is no way in which us, who supported the tax could be the ones not to pay.”
“…I have two phone numbers and they can confirm if I don’t pay OTT tax unlike what is being reported in the media that we don’t pay OTT tax,” Ogwang said.
He added: “What is true is that all offices facilitate work for its people. As Parliament, we were given iPads; we have desktops in offices which were given to MPs for that purpose and that computer must have internet. I don’t know why they aren’t questioning the services Parliament Commission is providing to the desktop which the MP has in his office but they are busy questioning the iPad which is also a property of Parliament.”
He noted that the iPads the MPs have aren’t personal items; they are Government items to help facilitate the work of MPs.
“We have been operating that iPad on 2G and it has been a complaint from MPs; we are now beginning to move these MPs to be in tandem with the changing world in the IT sector. So I am wondering why an iPad which is given to me to do work why it is becoming an issue. We (Parliament) are paying OTT for that line because it is for that office of the MP and that property isn’t his but that of Government.”
He added that the office of the MP should be respected.
“We feel it isn’t fair to the office of the Member of Parliament, some of us as individuals may have a problem but let us respect the office of the MP and that is cardinal for the citizens of this country to understand,” he said.
“To civil society, there are bigger issues to concentrate on than looking at the tax. First of all, when I ask them a question, don’t they have computers in their offices? Are they using their salaries to pay for those computers?
I want to challenge civil society, our phone numbers are in directorate of Parliament, they can run through and see who isn’t paying OTT tax, then you have a case to talk about. But if you are talking about an official line I am using to facilitate my work as MP, I think they are really being unfair to us.”
On whether MPs have personalized the iPads, he said: “This isn’t a personalized property, it is property of Government. It isn’t going to stop us from using the iPad. Those who don’t want OTT should put it in writing but as far as I am concerned, we can’t begin segregating those who want and don’t want, for us welfare is for all MPs.”