ByÂ Laide Akinboade
ABUJA _ Minister of State for Information and Communications, Mr. Labaran Maku, has directed telecommunication operators in the country to ensure prompt payment of taxes to the government coffers.
The minister at a stakeholders meeting with telecom operators in Nigeria, said for the Federal Government to be able to provide the required infrastructures needed in the sector, there was need for the telecommunication operators to pay their taxes promptly.
According to him, â€œpayment of taxes are not optional; taxes must be paid in Nigeria. We do not have the culture of paying taxes, this is not only common in Nigeria, it is the same all over the world. But there is need to pay tax for the government to be able to provide the necessary infrastructures that will enhance the growth of the telecom sector.â€
He urged them to be transparent and accountable, which willÂ ensure the growth of the industry, the maintenance ofÂ healthy environment for the operators and an environment that services will not only grow but improve in quality.
He noted, â€œin everything we do we must talk about accounting and transparency. And these processes of accountability and transparency is not only on the part of government, all stakeholders in this sector must play by the rules.
In this industry if we demand transparency and accountability from the government it is also expected that all service providers, all stakeholders in the industry will play by the same rules.Â We play by the same rules and set standards, that way am sure we will reduce the number of discrepancies that will arise. â€œ
On Nigeria Telecommunication ltd (NITEL), 24 months unpaid salary, the Minister saidÂ it is not good , that people who have families are being owed salaries in the last two years.
President Association of Telecommunication Companies ofÂ Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said there was need for the Federal Government to improve on the energy sector and empower the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
However,Â representative of Zain Nigeria, Mr. Tope Okigbo, complained that multiple taxation from the States and Local Government, were weighing the operators down. He lamented that operators get their base stations shut down at any slightest resistance of such taxes. He cited an example of a Local Government Chairman in Cross river that imposed a tax of N9m on Zain NigeriaÂ and went ahead to lock 14 base stations of the operator in his domain. HeÂ urged the Minister to intervene because the multiple taxation was affecting the development of the industry.
He also revealed that NITEL was owingÂ operators N26billionÂ out of whichÂ Zain is owed N5.3 billion.
Representative of NITEL, Mr. VetimÂ Bako,Â urged the Federal Government to once again get the telecommunication giant running again to enable it pay up its debts.
Meanwhile, the Chief operating Officer of Globacom, Mr. Jameel Mohammed noted that the success of the proposed Sim registration depended on how all telecomm operators were ready to join the train. He said operators needed at least four months to complete registration.