UGANDAN MINISTER WANTS PHONE TAX REVISED

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results
Doctor Ham Mulira, the ICT minister, wants parliament to revisit taxes on mobile phone airtime and fixed lines. Telecom companies pay a 12% and 5% duty on mobile phone airtime and fixed lines and public payphones respectively. Mulira proposed to the newly-created parliamentary committee on ICT on Monday that the taxes could be transferred to other communication services "without affecting government revenues." "If it's possible, I propose that the Government through the finance ministry, revises one of these taxes on either fixed lines or mobile phone airtime and spreads it across the sector so that revenues are not affected. We need to communicate," he said. Flanked by Patrick Masambu, the Uganda Communications Commission's chief, Mulira said high taxes limited the user numbers. The minister was responding to Edward Baliddawa, the committee's chairperson query on what the MPs could do to improve the ministry's work. Mulira said subscriber base of fixed and mobile lines have increased from 70,000 to two million across the three networks of Celtel, MTN and Uganda telecom. The three communication giants have on several occasions complained to parliament over increased taxes, saying they hurt the sector.