Have you heard the news? Very soon, you will pay more tax for that phone call you make or the text message you send to your business partner, prospect or loved ones.
That is the new plot by the National Assembly against those who elected them to serve the public good.
The proposed Communication Service Tax (CST) Bill, which has already passed the first reading in the House of Representatives, requires that every consumer of communication service in Nigeria to eke out 9% as service cost as tax.
When it becomes law, the government will be empowered to mandatorily tax communication service subscribers and pay TV subscribers for using the services being provided by their different networks. Voice calls, SMS, data services, MMS and Pay TV viewing, among other services, will therefore attract additional charges. Don’t forget that this same subscriber, like most of us, will also be a subscriber to one telecom operator or the other in which case, the use of services such as SMS, MMS, internet use, etc will also be taxed an extra 9% which will be paid for by this same subscriber.
In whose interest is this new tax regime? The subscribers will be at the receiving end having to pay more for communication services at a time when the purchasing power of Nigerians is declining. Cost of living is at a high, and it is therefore shocking that the people’s representatives deem it an appropriate time to introduce this popular bill.
Do these lawmakers reflect on the fact that this new law will be a disincentive to current and prospective investors in the Nigerian economy? Investors are already complaining about the high cost of operation in the Nigerian environment.
This is the time we need meaningful contributions and solutions by our government to rescue the economy from the battering of the past years. This is not the time to be thinking of policies that only bring more hardship upon the people.
The National Assembly must throw away the CST before it kills us.
Waleola Yusuf writes from Ibadan