The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has described CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele’s suggestion of a new phone call tax on consumers as economically wrong.
Mr. Emefiele suggested that calls beyond three minutes should be taxed, as an alternative means of generating revenue for the government.
But ATCON president, Olusola Teniola, told journalists in Lagos on Saturday that the proposal was technically and economically wrong.
He said that operators in the telecommunications industry were not consulted on the issue before the pronouncement.
“Contrary to the CBN governor’s believe, it is the poor people who make more calls than the rich.
“So, the proposal is not targeted at the middle or higher class.
“I have not seen any industry where you don’t want people to use your products or services more.
“We want people to be speaking longer,” he said.
Mr. Teniola said the CBN governor’s proposal that people should cut their phone calls after three minutes was not founded on any theory.
“In fact, you will now see that people will be cutting their calls.
“It does not make sense, not only technically but economically, to apply that kind of thinking as a tool or solution out of the present economic recession, it is not going to work,” Mr. Teniola said.
He said that ATCON had already proposed to the Senate a one per cent VAT increase across all sectors.
“This is a more realistic measure toward getting more revenue for the government,’’ Mr. Teniola said.
The ATCON president said the ICT industry had been envisaged to help the country gets out of recession.
“But the sector should not be killed with over taxation,’’ he said.
He suggested other ways the country could raise additional revenue to finance the increased expenditure that could engender fast and sustainable growth of the economy.
“I think we can consider introducing a negligible telecom surcharge to be entirely borne by the initiator of a call in order to protect the poor and vulnerable amongst us.
“We could structure it to only take effect after the third minute of talk.
“Some analyses have indicated that the government could earn about N100 billion per annum from this alone.
“Obviously, this surcharge will mainly be borne by middle and upper class people since I do not know many poor people who make calls for more than three minutes,’’ he said. (NAN)