By Dipo Olowookere
The proposal by Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, that government should consider collecting tax on calls above minutes has been rejected by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
The association described the suggestion as “not only technically” wrong, “but [also] economically” faulty and “not founded on any theory.”
Mr Emefiele, at the 2016 Annual Bankers’ Dinner organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), had opined that government could look in the direction of taxing calls above three minutes from consumers as a way of generating billions of Naira as revenue, which would be used to reflate the economy, which is struggling with recession.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Saturday, president of ATCON, Mr Olusola Teniola, noted that stakeholders in the telecommunications industry were not consulted on the issue before the pronouncement.
He said if the proposal was targeted at the poor and middle class in the society and not the rich, which the CBN Governor said make longer calls and would affect.
“Contrary to the CBN Governor’s believe, it is the poor people who make more calls than the rich.
“So, the proposal is not targeted at the middle or higher class.
“I have not seen any industry where you don’t want people to use your products or services more.
“We want people to be speaking longer,” Mr Teniola told journalists in Lagos.
Furthermore, he said that, “In fact, you will now see that people will be cutting their calls.
“It does not make sense, not only technically but economically, to apply that kind of thinking as a tool or solution out of the present economic recession, it is not going to work.”
Mr Teniola suggested that government could raise additional revenue by “introducing a negligible telecom surcharge to be entirely borne by the initiator of a call in order to protect the poor and vulnerable amongst us.
“We could structure it to only take effect after the third minute of talk.
“Some analyses have indicated that the government could earn about N100 billion per annum from this alone.
“Obviously, this surcharge will mainly be borne by middle and upper class people since I do not know many poor people who make calls for more than three minutes.”
The ATCON boss urged the Senate to look into the one percent VAT increase across all sectors it proposed to it, saying, “This is a more realistic measure toward getting more revenue for the government.”
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