Why Biya deferred end-user recovery of phone tax

BUSINESS 26 Oct 2020
Why Biya deferred end-user recovery of phone tax

BY ATIA TILARIOUS AZOHNWI

The planned implementation of a tax drive on mobile telephones and other electronic gadgets in the country has been deferred, a decision attributable to President Paul Biya said on October 19.
The payment of 33.05 percent customs duty on imported telephones, tablets, and other access devices was projected to begin on October 15. It however failed to take off even before the presidential directives.
The president asked that an appropriate mechanism to recover the said tax should be sought and brought to his attention for approval.
The SUN understands that the recovery of the said tax from end-users failed to take-off due to the absence of interconnection between databases of mobile telephone companies and the digitized government platform constructed by Arintech, the implementing partner.
The mobile telephone operators were yet to link their databases to the digital platform where prices of phones connecting to the network for the first time and the equivalence of customs duty were to be calculated and presented to the end-user for payment.
The Ministers of Finance, MINFI, Louis Paul Motaze and his counterpart of Posts and Telecommunication, MINPOSTEL, Minette Libom Li Likeng had in a joint decision of March 13 and a joint communiqué of September 29 said telephone companies legally operating in Cameroon were to be in charge of the digital collection of the tax from their users, and declare as well as pay the corresponding amounts into the State treasury on October 15 at the latest.
Until now, the Bank of Central African States, BEAC, is yet to recognise communication credit as a form of payment. The regularity of this mechanism is also of concern to certain telephone operators, who have reportedly seized the governor of BEAC given that he is responsible for monetary policy in the CEMAC zone. Governor Abbas MahamatTolli is yet to say whether or not communication credit can be used as a means of payment.
But experts within BEAC say community regulations do not allow because it would make telephone companies creators of money, a prerogative reserved for BEAC, commercial banks, and public treasuries of CEMAC member states – Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and the Central African Republic.
While another collection mechanism is being awaited, the Director-General of Customs, Edwin Fongod has instructed his collaborators to continue recovering the said taxes as was the case before now.

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