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Telecoms subscribers may go to court over consumer tax

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Telecommunication subscribers, under the aegis of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), have vowed  to challenge the legitimacy of the proposed five per cent excise duty on telecoms services in court.

According to them, the excise duty on telecom services, which would translate to an extra five per cent consumption tax on calls, SMS, data, and other telecom services, was insensitive and would further impoverish consumers whose purchasing power had been weakened in recent times.

Amid condemnation of the move, Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said on Thursday that the Federal Government was on course to implement the excise duty. Her Communications and Digital Economy counterpart, Prof. Isa Pantami had faulted the plan.

Justifying the legal challenge to the policy, NATCOMS President, Mr Adeolu Ogunbanjo said the policy “shows insensitivity particularly when the substantive minister (Pantami) of the affected sector is pushing back”.

At the maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content Expo last week, Pantami said: “The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is not satisfied with any effort to introduce excise duty on telecommunication services.

“Firstly, I have not been consulted officially and part of the rulemaking is to invite stakeholders to make contributions, I was not consulted officially. Secondly, if we have been contacted, we would have challenged the submission”.

Replying to the allegation, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said, “Against the comments by Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, concerning the five per cent excise duty hike on telecoms services, it is worth noting that there was a circular stating the planned hike which was addressed to the communication minister and other relevant ministries and agencies of government”.

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