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Telcos Cry Out To Minister Over Multiple Taxes, Mast Restrictions

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The Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operating Companies of Nigeria (Alton) has called on the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Patanmi, to intervene in the myriad of challenges frustrating ease of doing business in the telecommunications sector.

In a letter addressed to the minister dated and signed by Alton national chairman and executive secretary, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and Kazeem Oladepo respectively on behalf of licenced telecom companies, Alton said the sector is faced with fundamental challenges militating against network enhancement and development as well as inadequate infrastructure to support broadband roll out.

It therefore, urged the minster to intervene in the refusal of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to grant permits to telcos to build infrastructure.  “Despite concerted engagement, FCDA has maintained that due to the need to maintain the Abuja Master Plan, it will not grant approval to our members to build new sites in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“ALTON respectfully states that without adequate infrastructure, the provision of qualitative telecommunications services cannot be guaranteed. We therefore respectfully invite you to use your good office to liaise with the FCDA to identify suitable locations for new sites build by our members to ensure the provision of qualitative telecoms service in FCT and environs,” ALTON said.

The body also said other issues which require intervention of government at the highest level include: the Amended Taxes & Levies Order of 2015; and imposition of multiple taxation on telecom operators by state governments and their agencies.

The last but not the least is a request for an Executive Order to be issued designating “Telecom Infrastructure as Critical National Security and Economic Infrastructure” as prescribed in the Cybercrime Act, 2015.

Alton said it is concerned that the Amended Taxes & Levies Order, 2015 engendered the institution of multiplicity of taxes across different tiers of Government.  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 negates the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

“Specifically, 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,’’the statement read in part

On multiple taxation, Alton listed the taxes to include: Ecology Tax for gaseous emission; Sewage, Sanitation and public convenience levy; Sanitation and refuse effluent tax; Business premises tax for base stations situated in farm lands; Fumigation Levies on base station; and Tenements rates charged per base station which are alien to operations of telecom operators.

The Nigerian ICT sector accounts for approximately 10 per cent of nominal GDP as against 2016 with a direct contribution of over N1.549 trillion to the economy.  It accounts for over 30 per cent of Nigerian Foreign Direct Investment and also has created over 20,000 direct and 1.5 million indirect jobs since its deregulation in 2001.

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