The minister of communication, Isa Pantami, on Thursday said his office cannot help Nigerians complaining about the newly introduced 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax that has caused increased phone and text charges.
In a statement issued by the minister, he said the communication ministry, which has a level of policy control on telecoms firms, is not mandated to handle tax issues.
He urged concerned Nigerians to approach the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) for more information.
Telecoms firms have already started implementing the new charges which has been criticised by many Nigerians.
The Finance Bill 2019 was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last October alongside the 2020 Executive Budget Proposals and 2020 Appropriation Bill.
During the presentation, Mr Buhari had said the bill, when passed into law, will fulfil five strategic objectives, “in terms of achieving incremental, but necessary, changes to our fiscal laws.”
The major highlight of the bill was the review of VAT rate from 5 to 7.5 per cent, the reform of domestic tax laws to align with global best practices (such as taxes of digital business and e-commerce) and introduction of tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets.
The president gave his assent to the bill January this year to kick off a new tax regime in the country.
“The office of the Honourable minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, has been inundated with complaints and enquiries concerning the recent 7.5% VAT deductions on voice calls and text messages, by some Mobile Network Operators (MNOs),” the statement read in part.
According to Mr Pantami, ”the VAT issues do not fall under his ministry’s purview; therefore, he is not mandated to handle VAT.”
Mr Pantami directed the public to consult FIRS ”being the proper institution for tax matters”.
Many Nigerians have continued to complain over the increased VAT on calls and text messages.
Some Nigerians on Twitter said the increase is contrary to the government’s promise to reduce the economic plight of ordinary Nigerians who will now have to spend more on communication.
Pls see the screenshot that indicates the 7.5% VAT charge is now being applied on mobile phonecalls
I guess only the rich make phone calls in Nigeria?
Where are the Buharinomics experts & Ajurian economists that claimed the increase won't affect the poor?
Purveyors of poverty! pic.twitter.com/ihoGghTBID
— The Revolutionary Seeker (WAEC) (@The_Seeker76) February 5, 2020
Y'ello Bryan. The Federal Government has increased VAT (Value Added Tax) to 7.5% across several sectors, including telecoms. The total amount payable on voice calls, data rates and all other products/services reflects the new VAT as appropriate… 1/2 ~MO
— MTN Nigeria Support (@MTN180) February 7, 2020
7.5% VAT deductions on voice calls and text messages? These people are ins**e.
— Ayemojubar 👠 (@ayemojubar) February 6, 2020
My mobile network provider increases sms charges, citing VAT
Buhari is a SCAM!
— Mustyy (@mustyy09) February 6, 2020
Daylight robbery. This is an abuse of VAT. You only pay VAT when transacting and not for what you are using.
You pay VAT when you buy a TV and not when using the TV.
What is the Value Added Tax in calls? You pay VAT when buying Recharge Cards and not when you use them. HABA! https://t.co/LoPDQ5E6wi
— Olu-ni-fi-se Joshua (@niphijosh) February 6, 2020
Lord deliver us from this evil people called "the government". 7.5% increase in VAT. Poor economy and no job or improved development yet "they" deem it fit to increase VAT. @AirtelNigeria you are not well o. 13secs for N8? What a change indeed!!! @GEJonathan God bless your tenure
— Home Appliances PLUG (@iamVkel) February 7, 2020
We are in trouble in this country. They have introduced VAT in telecommunication, yet, they seek to borrow more.
WHICH WAY NIGERIA!!! pic.twitter.com/vdI6X77FJu
— #END SARS NOW! (@RealObyno) February 6, 2020
I don't usually pay attention to my call credit balance but this amazes me sha. 7.5% VAT on each call you make. Whatspp call only please 😂 pic.twitter.com/fs6sFEEQsn
— Olowonifela 💼 (@Tunjiogunsola) February 5, 2020