In spite of protests from industry and populace,the Federal Government is poised to kick start implementation of new Tax reforms on Telecommunication, data etc next year. The Finance Minister,it will be recalled had announced through the Budget Office of the Federation that it will start enforcing its proposed excise levies on communications services and beverages in 2023.
This is in spite of criticism from the Nigerian Manufacturers Association and Communications and Digital Economy Minister Isa Pantami.
Pantami had during the maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content Expo organized by the Nigeria Office for Developing the indigenous Telecom Sector, slammed the five percent tax on telecoms services.
The Budget Office of the Federation, which is under the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, revealed its plan in its ‘2023 – 2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper,’ which was released on Friday.
According to the ministry, this was in a bid to boost its non-oil revenue streams. The minister further said that it expected excise duty revenue to grow exponentially because of the introduction of telecom service charges.
Explaining one of the strategies that would be implemented to improve Customs’ revenue collections over the period 2023-2025, the office said, “Full implementation of excise duty on telecom services, alcoholic, sugar-sweetened beverages, cigarettes and tobacco products.
“Therefore, excise revenue is expected to grow exponentially because of the introduction of the telecom service charge and SSBs”
It explained that the law now empowered the FIRS to appoint anyone as its agent to withhold or collect VAT and remit the same to the service.
Stating the government’s plight, the budget office said, “Revenue generation remains the major fiscal challenge of the Federal Government.
“The systemic resource mobilization problem has been compounded by recent economic recessions. Recognizing that domestic revenue mobilization is important for sustainable development, the Federal Government has instituted the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives to improve government revenue and entrench fiscal prudence, with emphasis on achieving value for money.
“These measures include improving the tax administration framework, including tax filing and payment, as well as the introduction of new and/or further increases in existing pro-health taxes like excise on sugar-sweetened beverages, tobacco, and alcohol. Mixed reactions have greeted the implementation of these measures.”
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum on the implementation of excise duty on telecommunications services in Nigeria, the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who spoke through Assistant Chief Officer of the Ministry, Mr. Frank Oshanipin, said, “The duty rate was not captured in the Act because it is the responsibility of the President to fix rate on excise duties and he has fixed five percent for telecommunication services which include GSM.
“It is public knowledge that our revenue cannot run our financial obligations, so we are to shift our attention to the non-oil revenue. The responsibility of generating revenue to run the government lies with us all.”
Responding to the new levy, the Chairman, of the Association of Licensed Telecom Owners of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, had said telecom consumers would bear the burden of this additional five percent tax, bringing the total tax paid by consumers to 12.5 percent.
Reports had revealed that the Federal Government would generate about N160.46bn from excise duty on telecom services if it is implemented in 2023.
MAN had earlier opposed the imposition of taxes on alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, saying that it would hurt the industry.