ActionAid Nigeria on Tuesday frowned at the proposed Communication Service Tax (CST) bill and urged the federal government to reject the bill.The group, which is the Nigerian arm of the global movement of people working together to promote human rights and defeat poverty, said imposition of the new tax would worsen the poverty situation of consumers.
The country director of the organisation, Ojobo Atuluku, expressed displeasure over the draft bill aimed at imposing up to nine per cent tax on all phone calls, short message service (SMS), multimedia messaging service (MMS), data packages, and pay television services.
“This is not acceptable,” Mrs. Atuluku said. “It will put a huge burden on poor people who are already paying a very high price from multiple taxes.”
She said the federal government needed to focus on luxury and property tax, as more progressive nations were doing, to generate revenue for their countries.
Mrs. Atuluku said if the bill was passed into law, “it would be additional burden on the poor who are already bearing the burden of the misrule of the Nigerian political and business class”.
She said the move amounts to ”punishing the poor for the sins of the rich”.
She said the recent argument to deploy proceeds from the tax to investments on infrastructural development was untenable.
“Why must the poor, who will be the most affected, be the ones paying for infrastructural deficits brought about by the recklessness of the rich political class and their collaborators in the business class?” Mrs. Atuluku asked.
ActionAid Nigeria has also called on all communication companies to accept their responsibilities and pay their fair share of taxes.
She said any attempt for the telecom operators to pass their tax responsibilities to Nigerian consumers would not be accepted.