Fashola disagrees with NCC on Multiple Taxation of telcos

By The Citizen

The Lagos State Government has disagreed with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on the commission's earlier complaint that the state government was imposing multiple taxation on telecoms operators.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, made this declaration when NCC raised the issue during a courtesy to the governor at the weekend.

According to Fashola, 'There is nothing like multiple taxation in Lagos State. You can only talk of multiple taxes if different agencies in the state are taxing telecoms operators on the same project, but that is not the case with the state. Telecoms operating companies in Lagos must be prepared to pay for the land on which they are erecting their masts, even though they have gotten permit from the federal government to erect masts in the country. That should not in any way be regarded as multiple taxation.'

Earlier in his opening remarks, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, who led the NCC delegation, told the governor in his presentation that telecoms operators were faced with challenges in Lagos, already affecting expansion of telecommunications infrastructure in the state, and that the most critical of them all is the issue of right of way (RoW), where operators are denied access to lay cables and build masts, unless they pay certain amount of money to the state agencies.

Responding, the governor said: 'What is being regarded as multiple taxation is purely administrative cost handed down to the operators, which is normal.'

Lagos, he added, would not deliberately impose fees on telecoms operators because it wants to generate money from ROW. 'Telecommunications and regulation are multiple jurisdictional and should be addressed as such. Masts and towers are physical structures on ground, and must be regulated by both the telecoms regulatory body and the state government, through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development,' the governor added.
He frowned on a situation where telecoms operators dug up roads and deny Nigerians of easy access to road usage, all in the name that they have permit to lay cables across the country.
He explained that the new roads under construction in Lagos, come with ducts and that telecoms operators should endeavour to make use of existing ducts in the state, instead of cutting roads with impunity at the detriment of road users.
Juwah reiterated that the quality of services in Lagos, and other parts of the country, is not desirable, attributing it to the challenges on multiple taxation and regulations that await the service providers at the various levels of government, including state governments, local governments, and even some communities.
He called on Fashola to look at possible ways to protect   telecom masts and towers that have become specific targets for multiple taxes and regulations in the state.

This, he said, would in turn engender an enabling business environment that would encourage more investments and accelerate deployment of more telecoms infrastructure and facilities.