Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah on Thursday blocked the voting on the controversial mobile money tax for lack of quorum.
The MPs were set to start voting on the Excise Duty (Amendment) No.2 Bill, 2018 that seeks to amend Excise Duty Act, 2014 to limit the taxable mobile money transactions to withdrawal and to reduce the duty payable, before Lands minister betty Amongi rose on point of procedure saying that there is no required quorum to pass the Bill. This comes after several MPs supported the minority report presented by Lutamaguzi Ssemakula, Nakaseke South MP which recommended that the tax on mobile money should be completely scrapped off.
Indeed, Oulanyah was quick to establish that there was no required quorum to pass the Bill and subsequently suspended the House for 15minutes.
To his surprise, even some of the few MPs in the House did not return to the chambers prompting him (Oulanyah) to suspend the voting and thus, adjourned the House to Tuesday next week.
Rule 24(1) of the Parliament Rules of Procedure states that the quorum of Parliament shall be one third of all Members of Parliament entitled to vote.
Rule 24(3) adds that, “At any time when a vote is to be taken the Speaker shall ascertain whether the Members present in the House form a quorum for the vote to be taken, and if he or she finds that the number is less, the Speaker shall suspend the proceedings of the House
for an interval of fifteen minutes, and the bell shall be rang and (4) If on the resumption of proceedings after the expiry of fifteen minutes, the number of Members present is still less than the required quorum for voting, the Speaker shall proceed with other business or suspend the sitting or adjourn the House without question put and in case of a Committee, the Chairperson shall adjourn the Committee.
In July 2018, Finance minister Matia Kasaija re-tabled the Bill titled “Excise Duty (Amendment) No.2 Bill, 2018” for its 1st reading after it was publicly rejected a few weeks in its implementation that started on July 01. Excise Duty (Amendment) No.2 Bill, 2018 now seeks to amend Excise Duty Act, 2014 to limit the taxable mobile money transactions to withdrawal and to reduce the duty payable.
The earlier Excise Duty Bill, 2018 that was passed by Parliament on May 30 levied 1% tax on all mobile money transactions and Shs200 daily on social media usage. However, the new re-tabled Bill suggested reducing it to 0.5% of the value of the mobile money transaction of withdrawal of cash.
In its recommendations, the committee on finance wants the tax on mobile money reduced to 0.5% on all withdrawals. However, the MPs want the tax completely scrapped off.