Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, has urged the federal government to include them in the list of agencies that are license to access foreign exchange at the official price to ease access to procurement of necessary infrastructure that would enhance telecommunications services in the country.
The Chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, who made the appeal during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Communications, Bar. Adebayo Tuesday in Abuja, noted that the inability of its members to access foreign exchange would have adverse effect on quality service delivered to Nigerians.
According to him, “without access to foreign exchange, it will be very difficult for operators to access equipment such as parts, component for maintenance as well as replace dilapidated the infrastructures in the telecommunication sector for effective service delivery”.
Adebaya also decried the heavy taxation imposed on telecom operators by different layers of government, saying it weighs down their operations.
“We believe that taxes and levies should be broad-based and fairly distributed across all sectors of the economy”
He said, “The bill for an Act for the introduction of 9% communications services tax, for the imposition, charging, collection and same on communication that is before the National Assembly if passed into law the end users will have to pay vat 14% as against the current 5% vat charged”.
Adebayo tasked the government to pass laws that would make the vandalisation of telecommunications infrastructure a serious offence punishable by long years of imprisonment.
He said that until government declares telecom infrastructure as ‘Critical National Security and Economic Infrastructure’ as provided by the cybercrime law of 2015, vandals would not restrain themselves from willfully damaging infrastructure which in turn results in poor quality of service.
According to him, “the Telecom industry supports many other economic sectors whose operations and trade depend on our services.
He also noted that the association was very concerned about the recurring cases of telecom sites closure by government agents.
“The States are treating our industry as an extractive industry and imposing myriads of taxes on our members and closing down the base stations arbitrarily.
The association noted that for the nation to achieve the desired 30% broadband penetration in 2018, Nigeria needs more capacity and viable infrastructure to sustain and increase the broadband roll out.
Responding the Minister of Communications, Bar. Adebayo Shittu assured the group that the ministry would constitute a committee that would look into the issues raise for effective service delivery to Nigerians.
Shittu noted that the telecommunication sector is key to the social economic development of the nation.
According to him, “ease access to basic communication services has transformed personal and business productivity and facilitated better government and security service delivery, having a direct impact on the performance of government at all levels.
He said the sector accounted for about 10% of nominal GDP in 2014 with a director contribution of around 600 billion naria to the economy in the same year.

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