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MPs Fail to Vote on Mobile Money Tax Bill

The heated exchange between legislators followed a 15 minutes suspension of the sitting by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah for Parliament to raise the required quorum of 154 MPs in order for a vote by show of hands as proposed by Ndorwa West MP Wilfred Niwagaba.
A section of NRM MPs earlier putting up their hands in favor of the minority report. Looking-on on the side is Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang who was accused of later mobilising ruling party MPs to leave the Parliament Building to fail a vote on Mobile Money

Audio 6

Members of Parliament have failed to vote on the proposed 0.5 excise duty on Mobile Money transactions.

The proposed tax is provided under the Excise Duty (Amendment) (No.2) Bill of 2018.

The heated exchange between legislators followed a 15 minutes suspension of the sitting by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah for Parliament to raise the required quorum of 154 MPs in order for a vote by show of hands as proposed by Ndorwa West MP Wilfred Niwagaba.

Niwagaba's proposal was overwhelmingly supported by the House in which majority MPs seemed to be in support of a minority report that recommended that the excise duty on mobile money transactions be removed. The minority report was signed by Nakaseke South MP Lutamaguzi Ssemakula, Kachumbala County MP Patrick Isiagi Opolot and Kagoma County MP Moses Walyomu.

However, the majority report presented by the Finance Committee Chairperson Henry Musasizi supported the 0.5% tax and called for laws to regulate mobile money payments, and consumer protection so that consumers are protected from multinationals.

As soon as the Deputy Speaker Oulanyah called for voting on the matter, Oyam South MP Betty Amongi took to the floor and sought that Quorum be ascertained first before a vote is taken.

Oulanyah then directed the Clerk to ascertain the Quorum. He later communicated that the quorum of the House is 154 members and that only 97 MPs were present in the Chamber.

The Tenth Parliament has 458 MPs in total.

The Deputy Speaker then suspended the sitting for 15 minutes in allow more MPs make their way to the Chambers so that a decision is taken.

On resumption, Oulanyah noticed that MPs were few and directed that discusses other matters which do not require quorum.

However, Opposition Chief Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda took to the floor alleging that Usuk County Peter Ogwang together with State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite had been seen in the corridors of parliament mobilizing NRM MPs to leave parliament so that a vote on the mobile money tax is failed.

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Kampala Central MP Muhammed Nsereko accused the NRM MPs of disobeying the Speaker's order and failing parliament business.

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State Minister Anite raised a point of order challenging MP Ssemujju to back his allegations with evidence. However, Oulanyah ruled her out of order demanding that she explains MP Ogwang's absence in the Chambers at the time, yet he had been available earlier.

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Niwagaba then suggested that the sitting moves to the committee stage and carry out roll call and tally in order to ascertain members failing parliament business.

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Oulanyah, however, declined saying that Parliament could not punish any of its member from staying away from a particular vote since it is their right.

However, the Deputy Speaker had earlier cautioned MPs that no matter the efforts to delay a vote on the tax, the results will likely remain the same.

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Oulanyah was forced to adjourn the House to Tuesday.

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