Telecoms operators seek review of taxes, levies

Telecoms operators seek review of taxes, levies
February 22 04:46 2019 Print This Article

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has urged the Federal Government to look into the “Tax and Levy Amended Order 2015’’.

The Executive Secretary of ALTON, Mr Gbolahan Awonuga, said in Lagos on Thursday that the “Tax and Levy Amended Order 2015’’ was signed by a former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Awonuga said that the order had created a lot of confusion in the taxes and levies regime, making the environment harsh for business and not minding government’s Ease of Doing Business programme.

He said that in Nigeria today, most of the regulatory bodies had left the regulatory functions and now turned to revenue generating bodies and bringing about multiple taxation and regulation.

According to him, telecommunications operations are not isolated to the ecosystem, as the cost of running business in Nigeria, especially telecommunications is triple the cost of running same in Ghana and neighbouring countries.

“Almost all agencies of government are after telecommunications, why? We cannot afford to have crisis in the industry because we operate one network in all networks.

“We call on the Federal Government to look into the issue of Tax and Levy Amended Order 2015 signed by the former Minister of Finance in the last administration, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,’’ he said in a statement.

Awonuga recalled that ALTON was at a meeting with the management of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Feb. 12, 2019 in Lagos.

He said that at the meeting, it was cleared that all taxes charged by NCAA were statutory, as they were in the NCAA Act.

“The issue of Aviation mast height clearance was discussed because our members are being charged across the nation, be it close to the airports or not.

“NCAA tried to increase some of the charges as reported to us by our members and we took it up with NCAA.

“ALTON and its members are informed that the essence of the Aviation Height clearance is purely for safety, because they have to identify the routes to guide the pilots in navigation.

“We were informed that there were categories of aircraft – big, medium and small. The choppers and the drones are part of their responsibilities and these are not limited to telecommunications infrastructure but to banks, radio stations and high rise building.

“The director-general said there are lots of airstrips and helipads which are the reasons for charging across board,’’ the executive secretary said.

He said that on the annual renewal, ALTON was informed that the reason for the renewal was because the earth moved occasionally and the co-ordinates also changed.

According to him, contrary to reports in newspapers, there is no face-off between NCAA and ALTON and its members.

He said that ALTON needed clarification on the charges and this led to the agreement to form an Advisory Committee, which comprised NCAA and ALTON representatives.

“Our members are responsible corporate citizens of the country and natural partners in progress that follow due process.

“The telecommunication industry has been the best customer centric sector, where issues pertaining to subscribers are taking very seriously by both the operators and the regulator.

“Despite all challenges, there has not for once been an outage.

“We are talking about Smart State initiatives and last mile penetration but some states’ demands on Right of Way (RoW) are outrageous.

“The states are supposed to provide infrastructure for operators to lease but telecommunications operators spend about 70 per cent of their Capital Expenditure (CapEx) on RoW, leaving the remaining 30 per cent to build. This is not fair,’’ Awonuga said. (NAN)

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