The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has raised what can be summarised as 3-point concerns for telecommunications industry to the new Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Pantami.
The umbrella body of all telecom operators in Nigeria raised the itemized the concerns in a 4-page letter, which was addressed to the Honourable Minister for Communications, Dr. Isa Patanmi and signed by Engr. Gbenga Adebayo Executive Secretary.
Specifically, the three points are the amended taxes & levies order of 2015, implications of multiple on telecom operators and inability to see telecoms services as a critical national security and economic infrastructure.
ALTON said it is concerned that the mended Taxes & Levies Order, 2015 engendered the institution of multiplicity of taxes across different tiers of Government, adding that the Amended Order failed to fix the taxable rate resulting in the imposition of arbitrary levies and charges at the State Government levels.
Thus, the industry is burdened with the enactment of laws at the State Government levels to legitimate spurious levies and charges on our members which negates the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
The implication of multiple taxation on telecom operators therefore, is that they have continued to record incidences of sabotage, outright vandalisation and arbitrary site closure in an attempt to coerce and exert pressure to compel the payment of multiple and discriminatory taxes and levies targeted at telecom facilities for the purpose of revenue generation.
ALTON also argued that the government has been able to exert its power with regards to protecting telecom infrastructure, which it noted is a critical national security and economic infrastructure.
“Our industry supports many other economic sectors of the economy. We are also the first layer of critical infrastructure for socioeconomic development and security. It is pertinent to state that unless telecoms facilities have a first level of protection by the Government, it will be difficult to provide uninterrupted services to the citizenry,” it emphasized in the letter.
The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), is an industry body of all licensed telecommunications operators in Nigeria and is duly registered under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and recognized as an industry representative by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
ALTON added that an industry that accounts for approximately 10 percent of nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as against 2016 with a direct contribution of over N1.549trillion to the economy, should be given some protection by the government.
The letter titled ‘Request For Ministerial Intervention On Ease Of Doing Business In The Telecommunications Sector In Nigeria’, reads in part: “Our sector consistently accounted for over 30 percent of Nigerian Foreign Direct Investment since its deregulation in the year 2001. It is pertinent to state that the ICT Sector has created over 20,000 direct and 1.5 million indirect jobs since its deregulation in 2001.
“Your Excellency, despite the above milestones, it is of great concern to stakeholders that the ICT Sector is still operating below its potentials, as it is faced with fundamental challenges militating against network enhancement and development as well as inadequate infrastructure to support the broadband rollout.
“Honourable Minister, ALTON respectfully states that without adequate infrastructure, the provision of qualitative telecommunications services cannot be guaranteed. We therefore respectfully invite you to use your good office to liaise with the FCDA to identify suitable locations for new sites build by our members to ensure the provision of qualitative telecoms service in FCT and environs.
“We require more base stations, more resilient infrastructure and other elements to support stable telecom operations. However, we are faced with a number of issues for which we require the intervention of Government at the highest level.”