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After public outrage, FG finally suspends proposed 5% duty on phone calls, data



…Investors will be willing to put more money into industry — ATCON

… It shows Govt is sensitive to operators, consumers concerns — ALTON

By Ariemu Ogaga

After being hit by criticism over its plan to introduce an  additional five per cent on both data and calls made by Nigerians, the Federal Government has suspended the plan pending further review.

Recall that the Ministry of Finance had earlier proposed the plan of the government to introduce further charges on the Telecom sector. The proposal was however challenged by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami who said the sector had been strained by different charges from the government.

As a ricochet of the back and forth decisions of different ministries under the same administration, Pantami disclosed in Abuja during the inauguration of a committee that the government would review the policy.

Pantami said he personally rejected the policy and advised president Muhammadu Buhari against it in view of the effects it would have on the digital economy.

According to him, the introduction of excise duty in the telecommunication and information and communications technology industry would jeopardise the successes already recorded within the industry.

Pantami also noted that currently the ICT sector is over-burdened with multiple taxations both at the federal and state level.

He further disclosed that there are more than 41 taxes that telecommunication and ICT companies are paying and that it would be unfair to subject them to payment of excise duty.

Meanwhile, a presidential committee on the review of the excise duty in the digital economy has been inaugurated by the federal government.

The committee has the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami as chairman and the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed as a member.

Other members are the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta, the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami and representatives of the telecommunication industries.

Reacting to the development in a chat with the Nigerian NewsDirect on Monday, the Executive Secretary Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr Ajibola Olude said investors will be willing to put more money into the industry.

According to him, “For me it is good development and the Minister should be commended.  It is a temporal measure. We hope that it stays suspended. With the announcement, telecommunications operators will have to go back to the status quo. The implication is that Investors will be willing to put more money into the industry.”

Similarly, the Chairman Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr Gbenga Adebayo said that the government’s decision has reiterated its commitment to operators, consumers’ concerns and broadband penetration.

“We are pleased about it, it shows that the government is committed to broadband penetration.

“What it will do is show to the investors that the government is sensitive to the concern of consumers of service. And has further boosted investors, consumers confidence in the Government and policy markers.

“It is a first step in the right direction,” he stressed.

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