Telecommunications operators have kicked against the introduction of business premises tax on transceiver base stations in Kogi State. The operators, who are members of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators in Nigeria, said this would be in addition to the existing 36 taxes and levies paid to the state government.

The Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke with The PUNCH on Tuesday, said that an attempt by the Kogi State Government to increase its internally generated revenue had led it to classify base stations as business premises. According to him, operators are already paying about 36 statutory and non-statutory taxes and levies through its Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources and Kogi State Environmental Protection Board, among others.

Adebayo said, “Kogi State introduced a new levy on telecoms sites. The state government has defined telecoms sites as business premises. “We are engaging them because they have a new revenue collection team and part of their formula for revenue generation is the classification of telecoms base stations as business premises, which is not so.”

Adebayo said that the business premises tax demand amounted to multiple taxation as operators were already paying land use charges to the state government. According to him, offices of telecom operators and not transceiver base stations can be regarded as business premises. He said the association had written to the state governor and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, to intervene on the matter.

The ALTON chairman added, “The tower that is providing socioeconomic services cannot be called a business premises and liable to premises charges. “Don’t forget that on these sites, we pay annual land use charges and on top of the land use charge, you introduce business premises tax. “We have sought the intervention of the governor and have written to the minister. We are hoping that this will lead to some dialogue with them so that the matter will not escalate any further.”

In November 2018, the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service, had, under the instruction of the state government, shut down 150 base stations belonging to MTN, Airtel, Ntel and Globacom for non-payment of taxes and levies. This was due to some non-statutory tax demands made on telecom operators by the state government, which operators were not willing to pay.

The sealing of the base stations disrupted telecommunication services in parts of Abuja, Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara and Niger states.

Research has shown that the multiplicity of taxes and levies on operators in the telecommunications sector has a direct negative impact on the affordability of telecommunications services.

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