The minister of communication, Isa Pantami, on Thursday said his office cannot help Nigerians complaining about the newly introduced 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax that has caused increased phone and text charges.
In a statement issued by the minister, he said the communication ministry, which has a level of policy control on telecoms firms, is not mandated to handle tax issues.
He urged concerned Nigerians to approach the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) for more information.
Telecoms firms have already started implementing the new charges which has been criticised by many Nigerians.
The Finance Bill 2019 was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last October alongside the 2020 Executive Budget Proposals and 2020 Appropriation Bill.
During the presentation, Mr Buhari had said the bill, when passed into law, will fulfil five strategic objectives, “in terms of achieving incremental, but necessary, changes to our fiscal laws.”
The major highlight of the bill was the review of VAT rate from 5 to 7.5 per cent, the reform of domestic tax laws to align with global best practices (such as taxes of digital business and e-commerce) and introduction of tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets.
The president gave his assent to the bill January this year to kick off a new tax regime in the country.
“The office of the Honourable minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, has been inundated with complaints and enquiries concerning the recent 7.5% VAT deductions on voice calls and text messages, by some Mobile Network Operators (MNOs),” the statement read in part.
According to Mr Pantami, ”the VAT issues do not fall under his ministry’s purview; therefore, he is not mandated to handle VAT.”
Mr Pantami directed the public to consult FIRS ”being the proper institution for tax matters”.
Many Nigerians have continued to complain over the increased VAT on calls and text messages.
Some Nigerians on Twitter said the increase is contrary to the government’s promise to reduce the economic plight of ordinary Nigerians who will now have to spend more on communication.