Budget Office Disagrees With Communications Minister On Suspension Of 5% Tax On Telecoms

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The Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, has disagreed with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantanmi, on the suspension of the 5% excise duty on telecommunication services.

Akabueze, while justifying the tax said that tax on telecommunication services in Nigeria is below the African average, noting that members of the private sector were part of the tax policy review committee that deliberated on the matter.

This is coming as the argument over the implementation or otherwise of the tax policy among some analysts and stakeholders rages on.

This was made known by Akabueze while appearing on an Arise Television programme, Global Business report, on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.

Budget Office Disagrees With Communications Minister On Suspension Of 5% Tax On Telecoms

Akabueze said that as at 4 years ago, at least 21 African countries had excise taxes on telecom services, adding that Nigeria has the lowest tax to GDP ratio in the continent.

On the clash between the Finance Minister of Finance and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy on the proposed 5% excise duty on telecommunications services, Akabueze said, ‘’Well I am sure that this is a matter that will be resolved in due cause, but let me say something.

I am a member of the tax policy review committee which includes members of the private sector, in fact majority of the members are from the private sector and we deliberated on this matter before we arrived at including this in the finance bill for 2020.

‘’One of the things we looked at that time as of 4 years ago at least 21 countries in Africa had excise taxes on telecom services, in all of these countries also the VAT rate was on the average double rate the VAT rate for Nigeria. There are extensive studies on this subject, about the taxation on telecommunication companies in Africa and other developing countries. I assure you that the Average Effective Tax Rate (AETR) on telecommunications in Nigeria is below the African average.

‘’On this continent, as of today we have the lowest tax to GDP ratio and so at a time we face existential revenue challenges I think we all need to be circumspect on what views we take on this matter. This wasn’t something that the ministry of finance woke up and introduced. The finance bill went through the federal executive council, it went to the national assembly as an executive bill from Mr President. There were public hearings and at the end of the day, they passed it into law, it was signed into law.

‘’We were engaging the customs and NCC about implementation and then I remember the Chief Executive of NCC saying that in accordance with their procedures, they will like to have an engagement with their industry practitioners on this to discuss the modalities for the implementation and that was the last I heard before all of these controversies broke, but I’m sure that it’s something that government will resolve in due cause.’’