The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami yesterday threw a challenge to other sectors, which he considered were not doing enough, to take up the gauntlet of revenue generation.
He was speaking at a media briefing in Abuja where he announced the Federal Government’s decision to exempt the telecoms sector from the payment of excise duty.
The Minister stressed that the telecommunications sectorcurrently bears the burden of over 40 taxes and sundry charges and that adding excise duty to the already long list could spell doom for the sector. He hinted that this is the situation in two African countries though he chose not to disclose their names.
He argued that the sector, in spite of having to bear so much operating costs, has continued to contribute significantly to the economy while at the same time maintaining an affordable pricing to consumers.
“All other sectors have been increasing the prices of their goods and services except our sector”, Pantami said.
Pantami therefore opined that Government should turn its sights to other sectors which also have a revenue generation mandate but are not doing enough.
In his words, “as it is today, the telecommunications sub-sector has been paying 41 categories of charge, levy and tax. Arguably, it could be a global record for only one sector to be collecting different taxes, levies and charges up to 41.
He noted that the sector does not enjoy any subsidy, unlike some other sectors, in spite of the humongous costs it has to bearincluding having to run about 32,800 generators with some of the Moblie Network Operators (MNOs) consuming over 1 million litres of diesel per day.
Further comparing performances, he said if you deduct the subsidy for those sectors you will discover that they are not doing as well as the digital economy sector.
“The sector has been contributing more than enough. So, the argument of the Committee: let other sectors contribute. Instead of putting more burden on one sector why not look at other sectors that are not contributing so that we can encourage them to contribute.
While communicating approval, the President according to Pantami, lent his voice to the call on other sectors to buckle up in their revenue generation drive.
“And he (the President) strongly insisted that other sectors that are not contributing enough are to be challenged to improve their revenue generation for government, not the sector that has already increased revenue generation by 594% within only three years”, said Pantami.