The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), is an industry body of all licensed telecommunications operators in Nigeria has called on the Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Pantami to intervene on the ease of doing business in the telecommunications sector in Nigeria,
In a letter to the honourable Minister, signed by the Chairman of ALTON Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and the Executive Secretary, Kazeem ‘Ladepo ,ALTON stated that access to basic communications services have transformed personal and business productivity, enhanced governance and facilitated security services delivery in the country. There is no gainsaying that Information Communication Technology (ICT) also has a direct impact on the performance of Government at all levels.
“The ICT Sector accounts for approximately 10% of nominal GDP as against 2016 with a direct contribution of over N1.549trn to the economy. Our sector consistently accounted for over 30% of Nigerian Foreign Direct Investment since its deregulation in year 2001. It is pertinent to state that the ICT Sector has created over 20,000 direct and 1.5 million indirect jobs since its deregulation in 2001,” the body noted.
According to ALTON, “despite the above milestones, it is of great concern to stakeholders that the ICT Sector is still operating below its potentials, as it is faced with fundamental challenges militating against network enhancement and development as well as inadequate infrastructure to support broadband roll out.”
Some major areas in which the association sought the intervention of the minister include: the amended taxes & levies order of 2015;the amended taxes & levies order of 2015: multiple taxation on telecom operators; and Telecoms services as critical national security and economic infrastructure.
ALTON said it is concerned that the Amended Taxes & Levies Order, 2015 engendered the institution of multiplicity of taxes across different tiers of Government as the Amended Order failed to fix the taxable rate resulting in the imposition of arbitrary levies and charges at the State Government levels.
“It is disturbing that the entire instrument has given the State Governments authorization to coerce and disrupt the operations of our members in order to compel the payment of sundry levies, charges and taxes. Rather than Amended Order addressing the issue of multiple taxation; it on the contrary increased the tax burden of our members and adversely impacted the ease of doing businesses in Nigeria,” ALTON said.
On the implications multiple taxation on telecom operators, the association noted that its members have continued to record incidences of sabotage, outright vandalisation and arbitrary site closure in across the Federation intended to coerce and exert pressure to compel the payment of multiple and discriminatory taxes and levies targeted at telecom facilities for the purpose of revenue generation.
Some examples of these taxes are: Ecology Tax for gaseous emission, Sewage, Sanitation and public convenience levy, Sanitation and refuse effluent tax, Business premises tax for base stations situated in farm lands, Tenements rates charged per base station in some states is far higher than rates per square metre charged by the same State for residential and commercial buildings when the infrastructure occupies the same land and Fumigation Levies.
“Our industry supports many other economic sectors of the economy. We are also the first layer of critical infrastructure for socio economic development and security. It is pertinent to state that unless telecoms facilities have first level of protection by Government, it will be difficult to provide uninterrupted services to the citizenry,” ALTON said.
The association pointed out that the provision of first class telecoms service in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has been hampered by the refusal of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to grant permits to our members to build infrastructure. Despite concerted engagement, FCDA has maintained that due to the need to maintain the Abuja Master Plan, it will not grant approval to our members to build new sites in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
ALTON, therefore, requests for an Executive Order to be issued designating “Telecom Infrastructure as Critical National Security and Economic Infrastructure” as prescribed in the Cybercrime Act, 2015.
“In view of the foregoing, ALTON respectfully seeks the intervention of your good office by working with the Honourable Minister of Finance to review the Amended Taxes and Levies Order 2015, which is adjudged to be inimical to the normal operations of telecommunication operations,” the letter said.