By Jean Ikani
The Federal Government of Nigeria has suspended the proposed 5% excise duty on telecommunications services.
The development was announced by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, on Monday, September 5, 2022, during the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Committee on Excise Duty for the Digital Economy Sector in Abuja .
The 5% excise duty is part of the provisions of the 2020 finance law which has not been implemented.
Once implemented, the excise duty would increase to 12.5 percent.
Pantami said the telecommunications sector is already overburdened by excessive and multiple taxation.
The minister previously kicked the excise duty saying it was passed without consultation and would increase the cost of telecom services for Nigerians.
Recall that during the first edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content Expo organized by the Nigerian Office for the Development of the Indigenous Telecommunications Sector, the Minister spoke out against the 5% tax on telecommunications services.
“The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is not happy with any effort to introduce excise duties on telecommunications services.
“Beyond making our position known, we will go behind the scenes and oppose any policy that destroys the digital economy sector. We will do everything to legitimately and legally defend its interests,” he said.
Speaking on Monday, the minister said he would take further steps to combat it, adding that as “minister, based on the provision of the constitution of Nigeria, section 148, we exercise the powers of Mr. President”.
According to him, the members of the National Assembly were not consulted.
He threatened to “go behind the scenes and go against any policy that destroys the digital economy sector. We will do everything to legitimately and legally defend its interests.
Pantami’s statement took aim at actions taken by Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed, who accused him of sabotaging government efforts, adding that he cannot claim ignorance of a policy endorsed by the Federal Executive Council.
She said: “Given the position of Professor Pantami, one could wonder if he was absent from the whole of the processes which culminated in the law of finances, which is a product of both the Assembly National and the Federal Executive Council.
“Suffice it to say that before the law, the finance bill would have been by the FEC of which Professor Pantami is a member and the National Assembly. In other words, he participated in the development of the finance law which sets out the said policy of increasing excise duties.