Again Telcos Express Concern over Multiple Taxes

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Emma Okonji

Licensed telecommunications operating companies in Ogun and Kogi states have raised the alarm over multiple taxes imposed on them by the state government agencies.

The operators expressed worries that the taxes, which they described as outrageous are threatening their operations in the states. They have therefore called on the telecoms regulatory body, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the federal government to intervene and save their business from total collapse owing to the outrageous taxes imposed on them.

According to the operators, there have been outrageous and multiple demand notices on telecoms operators, in Ogun and Kogi states, by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service and the Ogun State Ministry of Urban and Regional Planning, alleging that the workers are constantly harassing and intimidating telecoms staff working on various telecoms sites in both states.

“Our staff members working on telecoms sites are harassed on a daily basis and most of our sites have been shut down by government agencies in Kogi and Ogun states for refusal to pay some of the levies that have been duplicated by the state agencies. The situation is already adding to the poor state of our telecoms networks and the quality of services adversely affected in those areas,” the operators lamented.

Disturbed by the situation, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body for all licensed telecoms operators in the country, have written both states and the NCC on the ugly situation.

In one of the letters signed by the Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo and its Secretary, Mr. Kazim Oladepo, and addressed to the Executive Chairman, Kogi State Internal Revenue Service and the Ogun State Commissioner, Ministry of Urban and Regional Planning, a copy of which was sent to NCC, the Director General of the State Security Service and the Executive Governors of both states, ALTON explicitly explained their challenges.

According to ALTON, the demand notices evidently seek to promote an arbitrary revenue drive with resultant punitive measures on the telecoms industry for non-payment, which could discourage the operations of telecoms providers in both stares.

The letter to Kogi Stare Internal Revenue Service, read in part: “Also prominent among the outrageous levies, is the Annual Economic Development and Social Services Contributory levy, which is premised on the recently passed Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue, Administration, Harmonisation, of Taxes, Duties, Levies, Rates, Fees and Charges due to the State and the Revenue Appeal Tribunal Law, which came into force on February 27, 2017. We are of the view that the aforementioned law is an ad-hominem legislation, which is discriminatory and unfair.”

Considering the implication of the action of Kogi State Internal Revenue Service, in the areas of illegal closure of telecoms sites, unlawful act of sealing of telecoms infrastructure, inappropriate investigation and prosecution of matters affecting telecoms operations in the state among others, Adebayo said the action would adversely impact on telecoms services available in the state and its environs.

In the letter to Ogun State Commissioner, Ministry of Urban and Regional Planning, Gbenga said: “The incidence of closure of our members base stations and other telecommunications infrastructure in your domain on the excuse of non-payment of permit fees, have impacted adversely on the quality of service, as the network had experienced downtime due to lack of access to refuel the generating sets and effect periodic repairs and maintenance of the telecoms facilities. The development has further worsened the service quality available to subscribers in the state, thereby affecting the socio-economic development of the state.”