The Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami has expressed dissatisfaction with efforts by the Federal Government to introduce excise duty on telecommunication services.
Pantami in his address at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content EXPO (NTICE) themed ‘Stimulating the development of Indigenous Content through innovation and commercialization’ holding in Lagos stressed the need for government and stakeholders to continue to support the sector, and not unnecessarily put burden on it.
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“The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is not satisfied with any effort to introduce excise duty on Telecommunications. When VAT was increased to 7.5percent, I was not consulted, I only heard the announcement and I think there is something questionable and I am glad that we are on the same page with our national assembly members. They too have not been consulted despite the fact that they are part of the committee.”
“Beyond, making our position known, we will go behind the scene and go against any policy that will destroy the digital economy sector. This is a sector we cherish so much and we are ready to go to any extent, legitimately and legally to defend its interest.” he said.
While he frowned at high level of importation in the country, he pointed out that there is no way indigenous content can be supported with too much importation. “We have to significantly reduce importation so as to reduce the demand for forex. Almost all over the world, the value of currency is dropping but in Russia, the local currency is growing because of the internal policies where they ensure that the demand of their local currency rises. That is necessary for any economy to develop. We must ensure that the demand of your local currency is increasing while the demand for forex is decreasing.”
He encouraged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other relevant agencies to ensure that the policy for the promotion of indigenous content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector is enforced. “We must enforce this policy and ensure that we have effective monitoring that will not allow any importation into our country, particularly where we have the capacity to produce them locally.
“We should not compromise in any situation because we cannot continue in a situation where people are interested in even importing sim cards into Nigeria. That should not be tolerated. We must support the growth of our economy and improve indigenous contact,” he urged.
In his address, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said that the Expo, which will for the first time showcase indigenous content development in the telecoms sector was in accordance with the powers accorded to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy under Section 148 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, Sub-sections 23(a) and Sub-section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, and the Presidential Mandate to him to so act and put in place the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector.
The Expo, he said, will not only showcase the strides undertaken by indigenous telecoms companies but will also discuss opportunities and pertinent issues relating to the industry from capacity development, funding and financing to policies and its effects on the ease of doing business.