Over the past several months, Yoweri Museveni’s government has taken several steps to address Uganda’s tax shortfalls and protect against threats to the economy. Within the past few weeks alone, Museveni has deployed the military to protect Chinese-owned industrial parks from thefts and asked the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to monitor all calls in the country.
This past July, Uganda also pressed ahead with a “social media tax” that sparked controversy, even as the widespread use of VPNs to evade the duties resulted in the URA missing its first quarterly collection target of $6.6 million after the tax was applied.
While the end goals justifying these steps are perfectly legitimate – protecting foreign investment and raising revenue to boost the country’s development – they raise important questions as to whether the government is taking the most pragmatic approach to raising revenue. Militarizing individual places of business doesn’t improve the overall security situation while monitoring telecommunications and taxing social media platforms could harm Uganda’s burgeoning digital economy.
Read more: Ventures Africa