Telecoms operators have warned that it will be forced to increase call tariffs in regions where government still impose multiple taxes on its operations.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that operators were becoming uncomfortable with all manners of taxes imposed on telecoms operators by government agencies in some parts of the country. He added that as a result of this, the operators would be forced to increase tariffs in such regions, if government did not address the issue promptly.
Adebayo said: "In states where telecoms operations become increasingly difficult due to issues of multiple taxes and levies and continuous closure of sites, we will have no option than to consider introduction of new tariffs regime to reflect the high cost of that operating environment."
He explained that in spite of recent challenges being faced by operators from flooding and willful attacks on telecoms facilities, some state government officials were still adding to the challenges, through various taxes and levies imposed on telecoms operators.
"ALTON finds the attempt by some states, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government to continue to employ extra-legal means to coerce our members to submit to the payment of illegal taxes, to be most unacceptable and we respectfully call on the federal government and the general public to intervene to save the ugly situation," Adebayo added.
Statistics made available to THISDAY showed that in 2010, two sites belonging to MTN in Abuja were closed by officials of the Abuja Metropolitan Municipal Council (AMMAC) for non-payment of annual charges. In May 2010, the Osun State Capital Territory Development Authority, sealed MTN sites in Osogbo for non-payment of Land Use Clearance fees. In July 2010 in Umuahia, Abia State, the state taskforce closed Airtel's five Base Transmission Station (BTS) sites for non-payment of N19 million being Towers Premises Registration and Renewal fees charged by the state. Demand notice from Imo State Environmental Transformation Commission (ENTRACO) for Airtel to pay N262.4 million for pest/vector control fees and fumigation charges for the years 2008-2011.
Demand notice from Ondo State Signage and Advertisement Agency for all telecoms operators in the state to pay various sums of money for the identification signage placed at the foot of every BTS otherwise known as telecom mast built in the state.
In Lagos, the state government, through the Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU) is asking telecoms operators to pay N2 million for each newly installed telecoms masts, N1 million for each existing ones, and N500, 000 as renewal fees for each telecoms masts installed in the state.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), had earlier in the year, inaugurated a committee of Industry Working Group (IWG) to address multiple taxation in the telecoms sector, but it does appear that the efforts of the committee members are not yielding results as government agencies are having a field day harassing telecoms operators of imposed levies and taxes.
The committee, which comprised of nominees from the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators, the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Media and the NCC, were mandated to liaise with the various government agencies to address what operators described as worrisome issues.