The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has asked telecommunication firms and other stakeholders in the sector to ignore any attempt to impose a five per cent excise duty on telecom services.
According to the minister, the sector has been excluded from excise duty tax with approval from the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), which was announced on the 21st of March, 2023. He affirmed that this supersedes any other declaration regarding the issue.
The minister spoke on the heels of a report indicating that the Federal Government is set to proceed with the implementation of a five per cent excise duty tax on mobile telephone services, fixed telephone, and Internet services despite announcing an earlier exemption.
This was according to a new Fiscal Policy Measures for 2023 via a circular dated April 20, 2023, and signed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
A copy of the leaked circular, referenced HMFBNP/MDAs/CIRCULAR/2023 FP/04 and titled, ‘Approval for the Implementation of the 2023 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments’, stated that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had approved the implementation of the 2023 fiscal policy measures.
A part of the document read, “The excise duty on single use plastics shall also take effect from 1st of June, 2023. While on the other hand, the excise duty rate on telecommunication services remains as approved by Mr President and published in the Official Gazette No. 88, Vol. 109 of 11th May 2022.”
However, a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant Media/Spokesperson for the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mrs Uwa Suleiman, on Wednesday stated that Buhari’s exemption of the digital economy sector from excise duty tax remains, despite new attempts to impose the excise duty tax on the sector.
The statement read in part, “The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, hereby assures the sector and the general public that the President’s approval, supersedes all other declarations regarding the issue and we stand by it. Any contrary proclamation should be disregarded by the general public.”
The statement further noted that Pantami remains opposed to the proposed five per cent excise duty tax on telecoms services.
It stated that the minister considers the tax to be unjustifiable, and burdensome on consumers of the service.