Expert berates FG over proposed Communication Tax Bill

By Odunewu Segun

Nigerians have continue to react to the proposed Communication Tax Bill, which seeks  to impose, charge and collect Communication Service Tax (CST) on service fees payable by users of electronic communication services at 9 per cent.

While government sees it as capable of generating N20 billion monthly to help in running the economy, analysts argued that among other things, the tax will compounds the woes of Nigerians who, ultimately will bear the cost.

A public affairs analyst and political commentator, Adekoya Boladale said the proposed tax only shows that the Federal Government is not sensitive to the plight of Nigerians, especially at this particular period when the country is in recession.

Boladale said if the government is truly serious about sourcing for alternative revenue, it should focus on creating a separate platform rather than milking what is left of Nigerians hardened life.

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“With the rapid penetration of internet into Africa and the unprecedented level of acceptability in Nigeria, the major challenge facing Mobile communication companies is no longer demands but supply.  This is a problem a serious government will cash on.”

He stressed that Nigerians are already at the mercy of undependable and unstable GSM services because of the huge demand, he therefore advised government to resuscitate the Nigerian telecommunication Limited (NITEL) with all its facilities with data services as its core focus.

“NITEL with its current facilities only need to embark on massive fibre optic cable laying and substation construction nationwide.  With cities and villages connected to a far cheaper and faster internet connection, selling data voucher in the similar marketing strategy of recharge cards will not only create instant employment but generate unprecedented level of revenue for the country instead of a GSM tax introduction.”

Although the bill is seen as imposed on service providers, it will invariably be paid by the customers, considering that in most cases, the service providers will spread the cost among various services they offer to consumers.

There are strong penalties for default, including N50, 000 for failure to file returns on due date and a further N10, 000 for each day the tax returns are not submitted. If the bill receives favourable consideration from the National Assembly, The FIRS will be responsible for the collection of the tax and pay together with any interest and penalty into the Federation Account.