House of Representatives Repeal Additional Taxes on Voice Calls
Monrovia – The House of Representatives has voted to repeal section 1165 and to amend 1021 (B) (2) of the Revenue code as amended in 2016.
Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]
The House took the decision based on findings and recommendations from the joint committees on Ways, Means and Finance, Telecommunications and Judiciary.
The Legislature passed an amendment to the revenue code of 2000 in the name of economic empowerment tax which leveled 0.01 US cent per minute tax on all local voice calls a decision that brought huge public outcry and demands for it to be repealed because according to people who spoke against, it would intensify the hardship on people.
According to plenary Tuesday, in response to the many public outcries the Executive and the Legislature engaged in a series of discussions aimed at providing a relief to the crying people as families found it difficult to communicate with each other because of the tax.
“These discussions concluded with the recommendations to bring a draft bill to repeal the amendment given the continuous outcry against it,” the communication states.
Representative Numene T.H. Bartekwa (MPC-District #2 Grand Kru County) chairman on the House committee on Telecommunication said the joint committee embarked on numerous consultations at various levels as it examined the draft bill as per the mandate of plenary.
Rep. Bartekwa said, in furtherance to their mandate given them by plenary the joint committees conducted extensive consultations and dialogues in soliciting experts views from service providers, consumer advocacy groups and subscribers with the view of the deriving solution that would both alleviate the suffering of the people and at the same time not undermine and affect tax revenue.
He said the joint committees embarked on numerous consultations at various levels as it examined the draft bill as per the mandate of plenary and discovered several outstanding facts.
“Tax policy should encourage growth in the sector which will enable business turnover to increase resulting in more tax revenue and more jobs for Liberians.”
“That given the lack of nationwide public communications system like radio, television and very low internet penetration especially in the schools a situation that results in our children depending on more service providers’ promotions to do research and study which is positively impacting the learning environment.
A prudent tax policy would put more emphasis on turnover tax as compared to the imposition of tax on minutes and internet data packages,” Bartekwa said.
When the bill first appeared at the Legislature, a group under the banner Association of Telecom Consumers petitioned the Legislature, requesting the body reject the proposal.
In their petition, the group stressed that taxation on calls per minute would directly affect low income earners who are already struggling to cope with prevailing economic situations.
They claimed that such decision would make access to information and communication technology very expensive for low income earners.
The popular dial *143# to grant GSM subscribers ‘free’ intra network calls came to an end when lawmakers placed taxation on calls which took effect on Sunday, January 15, 2017.
The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) in a communication addressed to GSM Companies operating in Liberia informed the companies of the coming into effect Section 1165 of the Amended Revenue Code which was recently passed by an act legislature, signed into law and subsequently printed into handbills.