The Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy has called for the establishment of an independent regulator for effective operations of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy made the call at a one-day public hearing in Abuja on Monday.
The public hearing was organised by the Senate Committee on Communications was on two bills- the Nigerian Postal Service amendment bill and Nationwide Toll-free emergency number establishment Bill, 2021.
Pantami said that a situation where the regulator was also involved in the provision of postal service would not make for effective operations of NIPOST.
“A regulator is not supposed to be the operator, because if a regulator is a player in the same market it may be a compromise based on personal interest.
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“It may not allow for effective regulation of the sector.
“The regulator is to be an independent body and not an operator,” he said.
The Joint Tax Board (JTB) while making its presentation, faulted some proposed provisions of the amendment bill that empowered public postal operators to collect stamp duty on electronic transactions.
The JTB secretary, Mrs Nana-Aisha Obomeghie, said the draft bill, was contrary to constitutional provisions and extant laws.
She said the bill replicated provisions of collection of stamp duties as contained in the Stamp Duties Act (SDA).
“The board also observed that the bill, as currently drafted, encroached on the role and duties of State Revenue Authorities regarding denoted stamps, provided for wide and poorly articulated sections on electronic transactions and will usher in confusion and non-clarity concerning the collection of stamp duties if passed.
“Section 4(2) of the stamp duties act as amended states that the relevant tax authority in the state shall collect duties in respect of instruments executed between persons or individuals at such rates to be imposed or charged as may be agreed with the federal government.
“The implication of this is that there is a misrepresentation that the proposed Nigerian Postal Commission is mandated to administer the collection of stamp duties and to deal with all issues concerning stamping protocol to the exclusion of state revenue authorities, this is misleading,” Obomeghie said.
She, therefore, advised that certain provisions of the bill be reworked to ensure clarity on stamp duties collection, production of stamps, and electronic payment for stamps.
“A refinement of the bill will also ensure alignment with the provisions of the Constitution in respect of States’ mandate to collect stamp duties for transactions between individuals,” she added.
Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (APC-Lagos), Chairman of the Committee, said the global postal industry and indeed, every facet of human life has continued to evolve, thus requiring the Nigerian Postal Industry to rise to the demands of existing realities.
She said there was the need to ensure that legislation for the sector was reflective of the existing realities.
“Consequently, this bill proposes an expansion of the current objectives of NIPOST, to cover implementation of a national postal policy, encouraging local and foreign investment in the postal industry.
“It also seeks for protection of rights and interests of service providers in the sector, provision of postal services to areas and towns that were erstwhile, not sustainable, promoting small and medium enterprises in the sector, and engender innovation, integration, and inclusion,” she said.
She said the bill also provided for the unbundling of NIPOST by splitting the roles of the Nigerian Postal Service also referred to as the Public Postal Operator (PPO), whose responsibility shall be the provision of universal postal services in Nigeria.
Tinubu said the bill also made provision for administration and planning of a National Postcode System, for efficient mail delivery, and sought to establish a Universal Postal Service Fund (UPSF) for the deployment of subsidised postal services and infrastructure to the unserved and underserved areas.
On the bill for the establishment of a nationwide toll-free emergency number, she said the bill provided for the establishment of a nationwide primary emergency telephone number for reporting of emergencies to the relevant agencies of government.
She said the bill sought to empower the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) with the responsibility of supervising, managing, and implementing the provision of the contents of the bill.