Home LATEST MAGAZINE Telecoms operators cry out as CNI bill lingers for 10 years at National Assembly
LATEST MAGAZINE - August 24, 2018

Telecoms operators cry out as CNI bill lingers for 10 years at National Assembly

Failure of the National Assembly to pass the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) bill, 10 years after it was presented has resulted in a significant loss of revenue for telecoms operators in Nigeria. The activities of criminals and terrorists and denial of access for the overhaul or upgrade of BTS sites by levy-demanding local residents have adversely affected the industry, setting back other sectors like banking and finance, emergency services, air traffic controls and SMEs.

According to industry reports, over 10,000 generator sets were reported stolen or damaged while fibre cuts have also increased by 60 per cent in less than 2 years.

The CNI bill, which was prepared in 2008, received some push during the tenure of pioneer Minister of Communications Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson, but has lingered at the national assembly ever since.

The chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo said; “Unless operators have first level of protection by government, “it will be difficult to continue to provide uninterrupted services with the type of vulnerability experienced by our members and their infrastructure. We kindly request a presidential executive order on ‘Telecom Infrastructure as Critical National Security and Economic Infrastructure’ as provided by the cybercrime law of 2015.”

Speaking on why the bill waited so long at the National Assembly, the ALTON chairman replied: “The lawmakers did not see it as something of interest to them.”

His counterpart at the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, regretted the industry’s tax burden, which has had operators paying about 39 different forms of taxes grossing N450 billion between 2010 and 2015. According to him; “The taxes, fees and levies are too many and could hinder foreign direct investment and funds needed to grow the sector.”

Some of the taxes worrying the operators include eco-tax for gaseous emission; sewage, sanitation and public convenience levy; sanitation and refuse effluent tax; business premises tax for base stations situated in farmlands; and tenements rates charged per base station in some states.

The chairman of the House Committee on Information and Technology, Shehu Gusau, insisted work was ongoing on the bill. He said; “The bill is still being held. The public hearing is yet to be done. There are some issues that need to be sorted out between this arm and the executive. It is a bill we are expecting to come as quickly as possible.

“I had a discussion with some House members and they told me they were waiting for some things to be sorted out. You know the process of bills. It will still need to pass through the first reading, second reading and then a public hearing. It then goes back for the third reading. Finally, the two houses concur. If agreed to, it goes to the president for assent.”


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