- Of recent, mobile money agents from the different telecom companies infiltrated the rural areas where people have been able to save or withdraw money easily
- The banking institutions like Centenary and Post Bank also started mobile banking in rural areas, but the officials found this expensive venture
- The mobile money has become a target for ‘thugs’ who mainly dupe the operators and they end up losing huge sums of money
- The banking institutions are finding it difficult to contain the pressure exerted by the emergence of mobile money. This has forced some of the institutions to incorporate the mobile banking systems
West Nile-The leaders from various Civil Society Organisations in West Nile have asked government to stop the proposal to tax mobile money saying it would deprive the poor from saving money.
Speaking on Tuesday in Arua town during a meeting, the Chief Executive Officer for Arua District NGO Network, Feni Twaib, said: “Many rural people have taken mobile money as an alternative to saving their money. And this proposed tax will scare people away and they will go back to keeping their money in roof tops of their grass thatched houses. This is a dangerous trend to Uganda’s economy.”
Mobile money has also become a source of employment to many youths who earn some little money from it. Recently, the State Minister for Planning, David Bahati, presented before the Finance Committee that the proposed taxes 1 per cent tax that also include another separate tax on social media are predicted to fetch government Shs 295.3 billion.
Moses Maandebo, of Arua Rural Community for Development (ARCOD), said mobile money has enabled financial inclusion because few banks are in rural areas. “For instance 61 per cent of MTN clients transfer less than Shs 45,000 from the rural areas, that means that the majority are just poor people whose life will be impacted negatively because they depend on mobile money for survival,” he said.
Various NGOs and Community Based Organisationa, like Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD), Koboko Civil Society Network, Uganda Chamber of Commerce, ANPCAN, Vision for Humanity, among others are still pushing for a drop of the proposed bill.
The banks have to spend on fuel, feeding and meet other costs while they do the banking in rural areas. A mobile money agent on the outskirts of Arua town in Oluko trading center, Grace Adiru, said: “Our Members of Parliament should reject this proposal and drop it so that the rural poor can continue banking. In the past we had people losing their money in houses due to fire incidences. So does the government still want this to happen?”
She said already people are overloaded with numerous taxes which money ends up being swindled and people still live in poor ways, bad roads and government hospitals still lack drugs.
The 2017 statistics from Bank of Uganda indicate that Mobile Money transactions increased by about Shs 10 trillion from Shs 44 trillion in 2016 to Shs 54 trillion in 2017. The Civil society organisations propose that government should use Tiered exercise duty in which different range of amounts would be taxed at different rates to relieve the poor of the burden.