LCCI Demands Regulations To Enhance More Telecom Infrastructure Dev.

LCCI Approaches NCC to Lead Discussions on Efficient Digital Infrastructure  in Nigeria –

Yemisi Izuora

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has challenged the Federal Government to think beyond imposing more taxes on telecommunications industry but to go further by creating a regulatory environment.

This the Chamber believes will go a long way to promote enterprise investing more in telecoms infrastructure for a thriving digital economy and minimizing the disruptions to telecoms companies’ operations while enforcing tax compliance.

Dr. Chinyere Almona, Director-General, of the Chamber, while welcoming the recently signed National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 which replaces the National Health Insurance Scheme Act, 2004 by President Muhammadu Buhari, observed that this has placed a new telecoms tax equivalent to a minimum of one kobo per second on phone calls by subscribers.

The realized funds, estimated to be about N90billion yearly, are meant to finance free healthcare for the vulnerable groups children under five, pregnant women, the aged, and physically and mentally challenged Nigerians.

Almona, said that while the Lagos Chamber recognizes the government’s struggle with providing healthcare services in the face of the economic realities we face as a nation today, the move is placing more burden on businesses that makes frequent use of telecommunications services in the country.

The Chamber appreciated the fact that the private sector has always shown its commitment to supporting the government’s efforts in providing some public infrastructure for the common good of all or mainly for the underprivileged.

“Since the liberalization of the telecoms sector in 1999, licensed GSM operators have invested heavily in infrastructure to guarantee quality service to telecom subscribers. Due to the rising cost of operations, telecom companies under the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) have put a plan in place for a proposed 40 per cent increase in the cost of calls, SMS, and data in the coming weeks.

“The implications of all of these are that subscribers will be made to pay more for telecom services and companies that depend heavily on the telecommunication infrastructure to deliver their services will likely begin to incur an additional cost burden even as they currently struggle to comply with about thirty-six different taxes.” Almona complained.

The DG, however, admonished Government to ensured that realized funds must be well managed to achieve the objective of the tax.

“A fair and transparent system is critical in identifying the ‘vulnerable group’ that qualifies for the Vulnerable Group Fund.

The N876Bilion allocation to health in the 2022 Federal Budget is 5.1 percent of the total budget and lower than the 15 percent minimum allocation as agreed in the Abuja Declaration of 2001.

“Nigeria’s health sector requires and deserves more allocation considering the state of healthcare delivery in our nation today.” the DG added

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