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Uganda approves WhatsApp tax

The new law comes into effect on July 1.

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The Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2018 comes into force on July 1st and will also apply to other social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter.

Mobile money transactions will attract a 1% levy on the total value of each transaction.

The law has received criticism from youthful MPs who argued imposing a levy would be an infringement on the users’ rights since the WhatsApp is accessed through taxed airtime.

Freedom of expression

Planning minister David Bahati has however refuted the claims saying it is only the service being taxed.

"We are putting that into the mind that’s why we are only increasing it by 1% not 2%. These people we are taxing need free medical care, education and all services," he said.

Human rights activists claimed the new law is "part of a wider attempt to curtail freedoms of expression."

President Yoweri Museveni was quoted in Ugandan media last month as saying social media platforms are used "mainly for gossip".

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