Parliament. There was drama in the House yesterday as lawmakers opened debate on the proposed Mobile Money tax.
Trouble started after members of the House Finance Committee that scrutinised the Excise Duty Amendment Bill No.2 of 2018, aka Mobile Money bill, failed to come up with a common position. The majority report backed the government’s 0.5 per cent yet the MPs, who signed the minority report, wanted the tax scraped in public interest.
Realising that Mr Paulson Luttamaguzi (Nakaseke South, DP), who presented the minority report, was getting support across the political spectrum, the few cabinet members in the House decided to filibuster the proceedings.
Oyam South MP Betty Amongi (UPC), who also doubles as the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, led the onslaught when she raised the lack of quorum in the House and demanded that the debate be deferred to Tuesday.
This red flag prompted those in favour of the 0.5 per cent tax to start leaving the chambers one after another to kill the decision.
The presiding Speaker, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, then roared in disgust: “Members, we are going to vote, you cannot get out; please resume your seats and we proceed.” The Speaker’s head count confirmed Ms Amongi’s fears and he suspended the Thursday sitting for 15 minutes to allow MPs more time to enter the chambers and proceed with the Bill. The MPs still did not show up.
To vote on the Bill, the House required 154 MPs present yet the head count revealed that only 97 out of over 450 MPs were present.
Debate returns on Tuesday.