On the 3rd of November the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) with representation from the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) delivered a historical presentation to the Senate Presidency on the impacts of the proposed Communications Service Tax to the customers and operators of the Telecoms industry.
ATCON President, Mr Olusola Teniola since taking over has made some historical advances in the records of ATCON successes building on the successes of prominent predecessors. Tabling the concern of the industry and its members, Teniola highlighted the adverse impact the introduction of the 9% Communications Service Tax would have on operations, service accessibility and consequently the entire economic areas supported by the Telecoms industry. Drawing on infographics and extensive data provided by the Alliance for Affordable Internet represented by the Deputy National Coordinator, Mr Jinmi Oluanuiga, he highlighted the 26 different taxes already paid by the sector emphasising that an additional tax would not only increase the tax burden of the industry but increase the cost of services to end users at a time the industry is trying to lower costs and improve access. He acknowledged it was not the intention of the Assembly to penalise the telecoms sector for succeeding in a difficult terrain, and recognised the government’s need for increased revenue generation without the need to isolate any one industry especially at such a high tax rate. ATCON prayed the Senate Presidency and attendant Senators to reconsider the proposals of Communication Service Tax Bill and consider other less burdensome ways in which government could raise revenue.
In response the Senate President Dr Olubukola Saraki highlighted the observations that indeed the Telecoms Sector was the only growth industry of the economy and its continued growth was vital to the state of the Nation. He posited that Senate would need to ensure that efforts to raise revenue did not put the sector into negative growth. That said he highlighted the industry needed to do more in ensuring that coverage and availability reached every Nigeria and that operators were seen to do more in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. He disclosed the desire to work with the ATCON President on ways to improve collaborations in the sector.
The meeting ended on a high note with other giants and major contributors to the nascent telecoms industry of Nigeria in attendance such as Dr Ekuwem of Teledom, Engineer Titi Omo-Ettu, and the Vice President of ATCON John Nwosu. Distinguished Senators present were Senator Gilbert Nnaji, Chairman Senate Committee on Communication, Senator (Dr) Gbolahan Dada, Senator Solomon Adeola, and Senator Isa Galaudu.
This marks the first time ATCON & the A4AI have made a formal presentation to the Senate concerning its member matters and Industry concerns. Further presentations are planned to engage all members of the house and carry them along. In Partnership with A4AI, ATCON plans a workshop to promote increased sharing of Infrastructure and bring down operational and service costs is planned.