The World Bank Senior Economist for Uganda Richard Ancrum Walker says he is impressed with the public debate around proposed new taxes, including that on social media usage.
Addressing journalists in Kampala, Walker said that for long, public debate in Uganda has been about expenditures and not revenue mobilization. Walker said he is happy that this time, there has been a lot of public debate on the administration of revenues, which is crucial for Uganda.
In her tax proposals for the financial year 2018/19, the government intends to introduce new taxes including among others, the 100 shillings daily tax on social media user, the one percent charge on every mobile money transaction and taxing of savings and credit cooperative organizations (Saccos), among others.
The Uganda Revenue Authority also wants banks to furnish it with customer details as one way of generating revenues, although the president has since halted the move. Also on the cards is a proposal to tax each international call at 330 Shillings.
The new tax proposals like that on users of social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram, have generated public uproar, with most voices opposing it as “double taxation” on grounds that such social media users already pay taxes on the airtime and data, as well as on the smartphones.
In 2016/17 financial year, the Uganda Revenue Authority collected 13 trillion Shillings, which is less than half of the national budget of 29 trillion Shillings. In order to cover the deficit, the government has to borrow externally and domestically, as well as sourcing from development partners.
The implication is that the borrowing increases the debt burden, as more and more monies are used to repay the debt, including more borrowing. In the current budget, nearly three trillion Shillings is for debt repayment.
Reacting to the World Bank stance, political economist Prof Julius Kiiza, of Makerere University, agrees that the increased focus and debate on different sources and nature of government revenues is healthy and encouraging.
According to Prof Kiiza, the debate should be deepened to include government’s double standards of providing generous tax holidays for so-called investors, while, as he puts it, “squeezing the daylights out of ordinary businesses and citizens who are already struggling”.
Prof Kiiza says even without proposing new revenue sources, the government is already losing so much in revenues to dubious investors who, in addition to benefiting from tax exemptions, also use offshore dealings to fleece the country of lots of money.
He says the debate on resource mobilization must also focus on the citizens holding duty bearers accountable for every single coin they collect and spend.
Writing in The Daily Monitor recently, economist Dr Fred Muhumuza of Makerere University, the new tax proposals are symptomatic of so much chaos in the country and that it is hard to determine what will happen when the proposed taxes take effect.
Dr Muhumuza wondered what could be the real intention behind the new taxes like the “WhatsApp” tax considering that such users are already taxed for buying airtime and data. He thinks the tax is more to do with curtailing freedom of information and expression.
According to Dr Muhumuza, using the Internet is more of a production than a consumptive venture, and should be promoted.
It’s been less than three months since Whatsapp introduced its Snapchat copycat stories feature, and it already has 175 million users thanks to its massive numbers as compared to the competition. This comes as no surprise as Whatsapp has more than 1 billion users around the world. And, looks like Facebook’s strategy of Xeroxing Snapchat’s entire suite of products is having a positive effect — which has resulted in a halt Snapchat’s growth worldwide.
Snapchat has only enjoyed a favorable audience mainly in the US leaving the international audience out of it’s target market. This means when WhatsApp introduced the Stories feature, relatively few international users had been exposed to the stories format before, it seemed reasonable that it could prove popular in WhatsApp. Facebook’s announcement today during an earnings call confirms that, for now at least, it appears to be working.
Its clear that Snapchat faces a strong challenge from Facebook, and the future of the company is uncertain given that it recently issued its IPO. And by February, Snapchat had 161 million daily users.
Also, WhatsApp was down today for two hours.
Facebook is making us unhappy and causing people who suffer “Facebook envy” to be particularly depressed, a study has found.
Users who took a week-long break from the social media site were found to be more satisfied with life and rated their own well-being as higher.
The University of Copenhagen experiment involved 1,095 people, half of whom were asked to continue their Facebook habits and half ordered to abstain from logging on.
Those who admitted suffering high levels of Facebook envy, the tendency to be jealous of your friends’ activities on social media, benefited most from going teetotal.
“Millions of hours are spent on Facebook each day,” wrote report author Morten Tromholt.
“We are surely better connected now than ever before, but is this new connectedness doing any good to our well-being?
“According to the present study, the answer is ‘no’. In fact, the predominant uses of Facebook – that is, as a means to communicate and gain information about others, as habitual pastime – are affecting our well-being negatively on several dimensions.”
The sample size was 86 per cent female, spread across Denmark, with an average age of 34, and with an average Facebook-friends count of 350.
They were first asked to take a 15-minute pre-test which then randomly dropped them into either the treatment group – who were banned from Facebook for seven days – or the control group – who were asked to continue using it as usual.
In the post-test on the last day of the experiment, which 888 participants completed, 13 per cent of the treatment group admitted giving in and using Facebook.
The majority of these “non-compliers” claimed it was either because of an emergency or was a “habitual accident”.
In the test, the Facebook users rated their life satisfaction at 7.74 out of 10 average, but those who stayed away rated it at 8.11.
The effect of quitting Facebook on well-being was also greater for users who feel “Facebook envy” than for users who do not.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says it has shut down access to social media sites and mobile money services due to security reasons.
Engineer Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director says the communications regulatory body received information that Mobile Money and social media were being used to bribe voters. Mutabazi also says social media was being used for campaigns outside the stipulated campaign time which ended on Tuesday.
Appearing on NTV this afternoon, Mutabazi warned that UCC was ready to shut down any Television or radio station that breached the law.
Several people have complained about limited access to social media on their mobile phones since Wednesday night.
Mutabazi now says he doesn’t know time when the ban will be lifted, adding that he is waiting for instructions from Electoral Commission. Earlier in the day, however, the electoral body distanced itself from the move to shut down social media, saying that their role is to manage elections, not mobile telecommunication.
Pictures of the French President, Francois Hollande awarding Sandrine Gruda a medal have gone viral on social media. People claim its photo shop and others say the president was dwarfed by Gruda’s height. There was no thing special about the ceremony except for the pictures.
Sandrine Gruda’s actual height is 6 ft 4 in (1.94 m) + high heels (max 10cm – what was she thinking?!) and Hollande’s 5 ft 7 in (1.73 m).
French media In 2012 mocked the president for allowing himself to look like a “dwarf” alongside the Coldstream Guards – the battalion that won battle honors at Waterloo and then occupied Paris.
Sandrine Gruda was born on Thursday 25th June 1987 to father Ulysse Gruda a former player for the French men’s national basketball team. She grew up on Martinique a rugged Caribbean island that’s part of the Lesser Antilles and an overseas region of France.
Gruda is a French professional basketball player who currently plays the center position for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Super league. She played the center position the French Olympic team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She played with the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA from to 2008 to 2010.
Before joining the WNBA, Gruda played professionally for the French club Union Sportive Valenciennes Olympic. Its in 2002 & 2005 that she began playing on senior level and professionally respectively. In 2006 she was voted the best European young women’s player of the year .
Gruda is the starting center for the French national team, and led her team to the EuroBasket 2009 title. She was the best scorer and rebounder of the French side, and was voted to the all-tournament team. She also took part in the World Championship 2006 and the EuroBasket 2007, reaching the quarter-finals both times.