The Proposed Bill on Social Media Regulations by Malava MP Moses Injendi is an attempt to introduce a Tax on Social Media use by Kenyans in carefully choreographed scheme to hide it under the guise of regulating Social Media Use.
The Bill proposes that all facebook, whatsapp and blog administrators will have to register with the Communication Authority of Kanya (CAK) and shall pay a prescribed fee for licenses to maintain and operate the said groups. This literally means that social media users will have to pay to communicate on social media apart from paying network costs.
While there is need to ensure that Social Media platforms are not used to spread hate, such regulations should be intended at punishing the perpetrators but not introducing unnecessary levies and fees whose main intention is to tax social media use.
The move to introduce Social Media use tax is linked to recent move by parliament to raise the debt limit to allow for more borrowing which essentially means an increase of taxation for Kenya to prove to the lenders that they have capacity to raise substantial resources locally so that repayment does not affect social service delivery. It must be noted that every time Kenya is about to borrow, taxes have to increase.
In Lebanon, which is a heavily indebted country has been plunged into chaos after the Government attempted to introduce a similar tax on social media use to raise required internal revenue as a pre-condition to borrow more money. It must be noted that the globe has seen a rise of protests largely led by youths who feel aggrieved by government decisions that directly affect the youth.
A large percentage of Social Media users in Kenya are youth and any reckless move by government to introduce Social Media use tax is likely to lead the youths into the streets that can end up torpedoing the government.
I propose that the Nairobi County Citizens Assembly needs to initiate Citizen Assemblies at the grassroots to seek inputs of the citizens especially youth on the proposed bill on social media regulations
Member of Citizen Assembly