ATCON urges National Assembly to drop proposed Communications Tax Bill

The Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has called on the Senate and the House of Representatives to discontinue the debate on the Communications Services Tax Bill currently in front of the two Houses.

The president of ATCON, Mr Olusola Teniola, who spoke during the Communications Service Tax Stakeholders’ Forum organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos last week said the bill would send wrong signals to would be investors as it may scare them away from investing in the telecoms sector of the country’s economy.

“Our policies”, he said, “must continue to be investment-friendly. It has been established that revenue from voice is still significant and it must be stressed here that the investment that is required to deepen the penetration of Broadband in Nigeria is much greater than the one we used to provide voice telephony. In view of this, the said Communications Service Tax bill should be stepped down so as to encourage investors and make the sector more attractive for foreign direct investors.”

ATCON’s position, according to him, “is that whatever we are doing as a nation must not be done to deter investors from staking their hard-earned money on the Nigerian telecommunications businesses, in other words, our policies must continue to be investment friendly. It has been established that revenue from voice is still significant and it must be stressed here that the investment that is required to deepen the penetration of Broadband in Nigeria is much greater than the one we used to provide voice telephony. In view of this, the said Communications Service Tax bill should be stepped down so as to encourage investors and make the sector more attractive for foreign direct investors.

“ATCON is working with other relevant agencies to increase the Foreign Direct Investment to the sector which is highly capital intensive. This cannot be achieved if the government is considering introducing Communications Services Tax, which will deter further investments to be made.”

He said the multi-billion telecoms sector investors have deepened investments and transformed every facets of the economy, hence, content of the Bill will not only stifle the growth of the telecom industry but also destroy the stellar achievements of the sector since it was liberated.

“As we all know that Nigerian telecoms subscribers are already paying tax because VAT is embedded in calls made and data consumed. If the bill sails through it would reduce the subscribers’ consumption of data and reduce length of a voice call, this will result in drop in revenue that would accrue to telecoms operators which will in turn reduce the contribution of the sector to our GDP.

“The Return on Investment (ROI) would be badly affected as a result of the above illustrations. Nigeria as a nation needs a lot of investible funds to build infrastructural facilities and provide employment for her teeming population and especially our growing youths. As we know that Nigeria’ telecom industry still needs 50,000 base stations to be able to improve on Quality of Service and to reach the un-served and underserved parts of the nation,” he added.