Speaking yesterday at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Minister of Communication, Bayo Shittu said the Federal government is proposing to introduce a Communication Service Tax CST bill which seeks to levy nine per cent on subscribers for the use of the various communication services.
The services include voice call, SMS, MMS, Data usage from telecommunication service providers, internet service providers and Pay TV Stations.
He added that introduction of new taxes without harmonising existing ones would put pressure on the country’s tax system thereby making it unattractive to investors.
According to Shittu, the outcome of deliberations on the bill would form the basis of his advice to the President.
He said; ”This may also be counter-productive in the long run for our targets on broadband penetration. Our ICT Roadmap gives fresh impetus for implementing existing policies and reviewing any that is inimical to the growth of the sector.
My focus on any tax regime will be to align any process that will stimulate the economy and also ensure that the tax system is efficient by widening the tax net. It is also to create an effective framework for tax compliance to protect the poor and vulnerable in the society who nonetheless have to use telecoms services for social inclusion and financial services.”
He said that the government’s efforts at increasing its revenue made the bill worthy of consideration.
Shittu said; “I have been reliably informed that the projected earnings from this effort is over N20 billion every month, which is an attraction to the government for funding our budget deficits. I must be quick to say that this government has a human face twined around its decisions,”.
The minister said that the government would provide an enabling environment for the ICT and telecommunication sector to thrive through the enactment of relevant legislation.
Mrs Nike Akande, President of LCCI called for a friendly tax environment especially in view of the difficult business environment.
She said; “We know that the government is seeking to diversify its revenue base in the light of dwindling oil revenue. But it is also true that the private sector players will like to see an investment friendly tax environment, especially in the light of the prevailing high cost of doing business in the country. It is important to balance these two positions.”