Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called for the total exemption of excise duty on telecoms services. This is even as it affirmed that services being provided by telecoms operators are not luxury services.
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, who made the call at the Telecom Executives and Regulators Forum (TERF) organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria(ATCON) in Lagos, averred that, there are about 46 different taxes directed at the telecom sector at the moment.
“Such charges and levels, coming in various names, are imposed on telecom operators by some agencies and tiers of government, especially at the state and local levels. This translates into greater economic burdens on telecom subscribers in the country,” he stated.
While commending the Tinubu-led administration for the suspension of the five per cent excise duty on telecom services, the EVC however called for total exemption, as the services being provided are not luxury services.
“When the federal government attempted to introduce the five per cent excise duty on telecommunication services, I remember we listed 41 levies, taxes, and charges that have been forced on telecommunication companies in the country. And now, the number has gotten to 46. The immediate past president Buhari had approved the exemption of telecom from the excise duty. It, however, came as a total shock to us when the duty came up again in the Finance Act amended by the National Assembly.
“President Tinubu again suspending the excise duty is a good sign and I assure you that we are going to continue to argue convincingly that the duty on telecommunication services should not only be suspended but telecommunication services should be exempted from excise duty because the excise duties are paid on luxury items and telecommunication services cannot be considered as a luxury. Telecommunication services have become very much a part of our individual lives, and they affect more than 220 million Nigerians.
“The planned five per cent excise duty was going to be borne by the millions of subscribers. You can imagine, what would be the implication if that was implemented. Many would not be able to continue using these important services. So, we are delighted with the suspension but we have engaged our minister to draw his attention to the need to really exempt the sector from this duty altogether.”
In the same vein, Mr. Tony Emoekpere, president of ATCON, highlighted multiple taxations as one of the challenges faced by industry players, while calling on the government to address all the bottlenecks to further boost the industry.