No fewer than 25 million out of the estimated 150 million telecommunications consumers in Nigeria will lose access to telephone use, if the Communications Service Tax bill, currently before the Senate eventually becomes law, according to the Associations of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
Part of the tax bill is stipulating 9 per cent tax on each service rendered by the various GSM and data services operators.
The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), by the terms of the new law, will create special data bank to harness the resources to be generated through the tax.
On their part, the operators are to link up each consumer of their services to FIRS using his or her personal information captured through the sim cards.
But reacting on behalf of their customers ATCON President, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said the association was mobilising the public towards resisting the move to increase the cost of telecoms services in Nigeria.
According to him, “Even if there would be any tax on the services, it should not be more than 0.2 per cent, in view of the burden that an average consumer will have to bear after the law has taken effect.”
“We are not against tax in the country, but effort should be made to avoid double taxation . We will be happy to support the government to make the best of our tax efforts, which certainly are key components of strengthening the economy and sustaining our industry,” Teniola said.
He added, “We ask for a reconsideration of the CST Bill; we recommend, as an alternative, a tax reform that increases the current Value Added Tax by a new one per cent added for the purpose of development of communications. Another alternative is that the tax being proposed in the bill should be limited to 0.2 per cent.”
In his comment, the coordinator of Telecoms Consumers Association Nigeria (TeCAN), Mr. Mike Odukoya said imposition of tax on telecoms users at the present period of harsh economic measures will disconnect more than 40 per cent of phone and data users.
He said even countries that have been enjoying better services than Nigeria were yet to impose any service charge tax, so it will be resisted.
By Emma Eke….