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Senate panel cautions government against communications tax


taxA Senate committee has cautioned the Federal Government over the proposed Communications Service Tax Bill.The committee on communications said the bill has the capacity to make life more difficult for Nigerians.

Chairman of the committee, Gilbert Nnaji, who expressed apprehension over the proposed bill during the 2016 budget defence meeting with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), said: “There has been strident outcry by consumers’ rights groups and industry stakeholders against the Communications Service Tax Bill (CST) 2015 currently before the National Assembly.

“It is argued that the bill will limit access to communication as it will affect the lower income consumers forcing them to abandon or reduce subscription to certain services.

“This committee is yet to be availed with the contents of this bill but it is important to state unequivocally here that as the elected representatives of the Nigerian people, while we recognise the current administration’s efforts to widen its revenue base, conscious efforts must be made to ensure that the socio-economic well-being of the citizenry remains sacrosanct.

“We assure Nigerians that this committee will engage in wide consultations with all concerned stakeholders in considering this bill if it is referred to the committee.”

Nnaji, who urged industry players to live above board in their efforts to improve the economy, added: “These are issues bordering on regulatory and operational environment in the sector such as the statutory independence of the industry regulator and the obligations demanded from industry operators to observe and respect regulatory directives.”

He, therefore, assured that the committee would not support any draconian regulation by the commission or fold its arms to witness any disrespect and disregard for the directives of the NCC by any operator.

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