Telecom Operators Seek Executive Order to Address Multiple Taxation


Emma Okonji

Worried about the incessant multiple taxes imposed on telecoms operations across the county, some experts in the industry called for an Executive Order. 

They were of the view that Executive Order from the Presidency on telecoms operations would remove all manners of taxes impeding telecoms growth across the country.

They spoke at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecom Leadership Summit 2019, which took place in Lagos recently.

The experts at the summit organised by  the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), unanimously agreed that the ongoing negotiations between telecoms operators, telecoms regulator and state governors were not yielding results as the state governors were bent at milking telecoms operators, through multiple taxation. 

Keynote speaker and former Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, who first raised the suggestion on Executive Order on telecoms taxes, said four years before she was appointed the minister, the issue of multiple taxes had been on ground, stifling telecoms growth and expansion.

According to her, four years after she left as minister in 2015, the issue of multiple taxes still lingers.

She therefore advised the NCC to consider alternative resolution in the area of Executive Order to address the issue. 

Listing the challenges and pains caused by multiple taxes in the telecoms industry, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo said it had led to closure of telecoms sites severally by state governments and federal government agencies, an action, he said, had always affected the quality of service rendered by telecoms operators. 

Citing the recent closure of several telecoms sites in Kogi State, on the orders of the state government as a result of the refusal of telecoms operators to pay huge sums of money to the state government as telecoms taxes, Adebayo said some of the taxes were irrelevant to the operators, like ecological tax, generator emission tax, waste management tax, among others. 

On her part, the Chief Executive Officer, MainOne, Ms. Funke Opeke, said multiple taxes have slowed down telecoms growth in the last ten years.

She commended the United State government for protecting indigenous companies by giving them incentives like tax waivers, and therefore called on the Nigerian government to device means of encouraging indigenous companies, rather than stifling them through multiple taxes. 

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in his welcome address, said NCC had taken a deep and predictive look at the financial health of the telecoms industry; the aspiration of Nigeria in the context of the 4th industrial revolution; the potential of emerging technologies; the demand for expanded frontiers of availability, accessibility and affordability of all the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) drivers and enablers of economic growth like broadband infrastructure and services; the dynamism of growth, among other things, and reached a conclusion that investments are very critical for the future growth of the telecoms sector.