NCC, telecoms operators disagree on multiple taxations

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The Nigerian Communications Commission and telecommunication operators in the country are sharply divided on the payment on advertisements.

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While the NCC said that the payment on advertisements and promotions does not amount to double taxation, operators in the sector disagree.

The disagreement became glaring at the closing ceremony of a three-day public inquiry on draft of Telecom Regulations and Guidelines review in Abuja on Thursday.

While the NCC Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, Adeleke Adewolu, said that the new fees for advertisements and promotions were to meet current realities and protect consumers, a representative of 9mobile, Ikenna Ikoku, who spoke virtually, claimed that the payment of fees on advertisements and promos would amount to double taxation.

Similarly, a representative of Airtel, Ade Gbolahan, said that the commission should leave the fees at the old rate of N350, 000.

Also, Damian Ude, of IHS Nigeria Ltd, called on NCC to review downward the 10 metres requirement for deployment of communication infrastructure to five metres, especially in congested areas.

However, Adewolu explained that the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria and the Nigerian Lottery Commission are regulators of advertisements and lotteries, while NCC is the regulator of the telecom industry.

“I think multiple taxation is a strong word to use there. It is not in the form of a tax. These are fees for the administration of an application process whereby licensees have to apply to us.

“This is in the interest of consumers to ensure that where advertisements or promotions are being run on telecommunication platforms, they are done with responsibility, existing laws and ensure that the interest of consumers are protected.

“If you look at the rates for advertisements and promotions, these rates are set many years ago.

“They do not reflect the reality of today and what we are already doing is bringing them in line with current trends in the country and industry,” he said.

The ECSM boss, however, said that the NLC had a role to play as the regulator of lottery, adding that lotteries impact on consumers because people play with money.

He said that NLC had granted a role to ensure that the interests of people participating in lotteries were protected and their fees at a charge for the purpose of carrying out obligations under its act.

“The NCC on the other hand has the clear mandate to protect consumers in running advertisements on promo on telecommunications networks.

“The two acts are very clear and I do not think this amounts to multiple taxation in any way,” he said.

A representative of 9mobile, Ikenna Ikoku, who spoke virtually, earlier claimed that the payment of fees on advertisements and promos would amount to double taxation.

“We pay to APCON and the lottery commission; paying to NCC again will result in multiple taxations. The NCC should only charge processing fees,” he said.

A representative of Airtel, Ade Gbolahan, said that the commission should leave the fees at the old rate of N350, 000.

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“The proposed fees should be left at N350, 000 as it is.

“This is another fee that the industry is not pleased with. We would want the commission to suspend the increase for the time being,” Gbolahan said.

Also, Damian Ude, of IHS Nigeria Ltd, called on NCC to review downward the 10 metres requirement for deployment of communication infrastructure to five metres, especially in congested areas.

The public enquiry is a review of five guidelines which include: Type Approval and Short Code Operation in Nigeria.

Others are: Technical Specifications for the Deployment of Communications Infrastructure, Advertisements and Promotions as well as Consumer Code of Practice Regulations.