MPs to Government: Don't Rush Phasing Off Airtime Scratch Cards

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In short
Tumwebaze says the electronic airtime will also improve revenue collection since URA can now tell how much airtime the telecom companies sell and also minimize the waste generated from the scratch card.

Members of parliament have overwhelmingly opposed the decision by Uganda Communications Commission-UCC to phase out airtime scratch cards.
 


UCC set July 31st 2108 as the deadline for phasing out airtime scratch cards across all networks. UCC now says people can now buy airtime electronically through mobile money.



According to Government, scratch card vending is directly linked to the sale of illegally registered simcards, which are dependent on the scratch cards that can't easily be traced. Presenting a statement of parliament on Tuesday, Frank Tumwebaze, the ICT Minister, said there will not be no more need to have equipment to sell electronic airtime as users can transact directly on their phones.
 
 

Tumwebaze says the electronic airtime will also improve revenue collection since URA can now tell how much airtime the telecom companies sell and also minimize the waste generated from the scratch card. 


He says sensitization messages have been running in the media, adding that telecom companies have put in place systems to convert scratch cards into electronic airtime and no one will lose their funds.


  
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Tumwebaze was responding to questions raised by Paul Akamba, the Busiki county MP regarding the move to scrap the airtime scratch cards in favor of mobile money and pay way machines which are inaccessible in many areas.


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However, Members of parliament rejected the scrapping of the scratch cards, saying phone users in rural areas will be affected.
Pentagon Kamusiime, the Butemba MP said people areunhappy with Parliament over the ways it has been handling legislation and it is time for Parliament to go slow.
 
 
He says the masses should first be sensitized on why the scratch cards should go. Without speaking about the ban, the speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga said telecom companies would be invited to talk extensively about the banning of the scratch cards and its implications.


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About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.