The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah has adjourned the House to Tuesday next week after a heated debate on the Excise Duty Amendment Bill, 2018 which calls for amendment of the Mobile Money tax levy from 1% on all transactions to 0.5% on only withdraws.
The decision was made after Oyam South MP, Betty Amongi rose on the point of procedure challenging the lack of quorum as the committee of the whole House had sat to handle the bill clause by clause.
At that moment, Members had agreed that since the motion was so contentious, they would vote on each clause by show of hands and a good number had voted to delete Clause 2 which among others provides for doing away with the entire 0.5% tax on Mobile Money.
The presiding officer was later forced to suspend the House to allow in more members so as to have the required quorum of 154 as opposed to the 97 members that were present then.
“Members, I am required to suspend the House for 15 minutes to allow members in the House and then come back so that we make a decision,” Oulanyah said.
Oulanyah however warned that, “Even if the matter is deferred to another date or a year ahead, the result are likely to be the same.”
The House later resumed after the 15 minutes break but worse still there were fewer members than those present during the time of suspension and the Deputy Speaker gave space to the Minister Betty Among to respond to the concerns of land evictions in Nakaseke district.
This prompted the Opposition Chief Whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda to rise on a point of procedure challenging the fact that NRM senior members were demobilizing members from returning to the House.
“We take Parliament business to be very serious for which we swore to protect. What signal shall we be sending to the public that the same Minister who stood here to fail Parliament conduct business is given the same platform to begin talking to Parliament,” Ssemujju said.
“I have seen colleagues, my friend Commissioner Peter Ogwang mobilizing MPs to get out of Parliament. We must not be physically present but we must be in the shape to transact business,” he said.
“You see colleagues and Ministers mobilizing themselves to get out of the House; if the purpose of Government was to fail Parliament business today and as a Speaker you must prioritize government business, why do we keep here pretending when those running the state don’t want us to continue with business”.
Oulanyah would later rule that the House be adjourned to next week since several members had showed no interest in the business that was following that included Ministers responding to question that were raised by legislators.
The Bill had appeared before the House for the second and third reading and ot would thus be passed in totality or with amendments.
By the look of things and the mode in the House, a number of members were in support of the Minority report of the committee on Finance that was signed by Nakaseke South MP, Paulsen Kasana Lutamaguzi, Patrick Isiagi Opolot and Moses Walyomu.
The minority report had recommended that the Excise duty (Amendment) No.2, Bill of 2018 be passed with an amendment that the entire excise duty on mobile money transactions be removed. Repealing the tax on Mobile Money entirely would have gone against the position of Cabinet and President Yoweri Museveni regarding the issue.