Telcos Groan under Heavy Taxes, Seek FG’s Intervention c

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Emma Okonji

Telecoms operators (Telcos) have raised the alarm that the Amended Taxes and Levies Order of 2015 has engendered the multiplicity of taxes across different tiers of government, which they said are inimical to telecommunications operations in the country.

The telecoms operators under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), have therefore called on the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun to urgently intervene in the matter in order to save the telecoms industry from total collapse.

Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo told THISDAY in Lagos that the Amended Order failed to fix the taxable rate resulting in the imposition of arbitrary levies and charges at the state government levels. The industry is also burdened with enactment of laws at the state government levels to legitimate spurious levies and charges on our members which negate the ease of doing business in Nigeria, Adebayo said.

According to him, item 3 (b) of the Amended Schedule to the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act, introduced new levies and taxes under items 12 – 25. Most of these taxes and levies were hitherto contested by our members on the grounds that they were not applicable to telecommunications operations justified by the previous Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act 1998.

It is therefore disturbing that the entire instrument has given the state governments authorisation to coerce and disrupt the operations of our members in order to compel the payment of sundry levies, charges and taxes”, he stressed.

According to Adebayo, the Amended Order, rather than addressing the issue of multiple taxation, has increased the tax burden of the telecom operators and adversely impacted the ease of doing business in Nigeria. He insisted that telecoms services as critical national security and economic infrastructure, and should therefore be handled with caution.

“Our industry supports many other economic sectors of the economy. We are also the first layer of critical infrastructure for socio economic development and security. It is pertinent to state that unless telecoms facilities have first level of protection by government, it will be difficult to provide uninterrupted services to the citizenry,” Adebayo said.

ALTON respectfully requested for an Executive Order to be issued, designating telecoms infrastructure as critical national security and economic infrastructure as prescribed in the Cybercrime Act, 2015, Adebayo further said.
While commending the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for being in the forefront of making sure that the ease of doing business is achieved by all stakeholders in the Industry, Adebayo said the Minister of Finance must act fast to review the Amended Taxes and Levies Order 2015 which he said, is widely adjudged to be inimical to the normal operations of the telecommunication sector.

He listed some of the taxes and levies to include: Aviation Clearance fee, Building Permit fee, Employee Development Levy, Site levy, Operational Permit levy, Business Premises levy, Building Fitness levy, Sanitation fee, Infrastructure Maintenance fee, Tenement Rate, Signage and Advert levy, Fire Service fee, Effluent Discharge fee, Environmental/Ecological fee, Gaseous emission fee, among others.