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Gbenga Adebayo

VP’s advice to states’ on raising IGR at all costs needs emphasis on telecoms—ALTON

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The Executive Secretary of Association of Licenced Telecoms of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga has called on the federal government to step up the new campaign instituted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on advising states’ governments against falling into the temptation of prioritise raising Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) at all costs.

In an interview, ALTON averred that “Whereas the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is trying within its powers to create enabling environment for Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) to deliver fibre optic cables nationwide, most of the state governments are terrible”.

“The issue is that unless the challenges are removed, Infracos may not move beyond the paper works.

He was however, quick to reveal that “NCC and ALTON are working out ways to resolve the matter through the IWG on multiple taxation”.

Business Hilights recalls that Vice President Osinbajo had last week in his keynote address at the Leadership Newspapers Awards and Conference 2017, with the theme, ‘Towards financially viable state governments,’ stressed that if such was done in a way that would stifle today’s entrepreneurs and investors, there would be a great price to pay later which include collapse of businesses.

He cited access to broadband issue as an example of how states could take decisions that could make or mar their economic future.

The Vice President argued further that the argument at meetings of the National Economic Council (NEC), which he chairs, was that states should not charge prohibitive prices for installing fibre optic cables, and that the goal should be covering the entire country with broadband as an investment in the future.

Osinbajo made it clear that invading Infracos and other critical telecoms service providers’ amount to pursuing a short-term gain at the expense of the future potential and profit.

According to him, “In the future, and that future is right here on our doorsteps, our states will thrive or suffer on the strength of things like how fast and cheap the Internet is.

“Thankfully, NEC resolved in favour of low standard fees, but this will not include the cost of damage to roads. But the states also agreed to ensure that roads being built must have ducts to prevent costly damage to roads when cables for various types of infrastructure and services are being laid.

“This conversation about creating financially viable states should therefore be viewed through the lens of the medium to the long-term.”

Continuing, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Lagos State noted that “There will always be the temptation to prioritise raising Internally Generated Revenue at all costs. If this is done in a manner that stifles today’s entrepreneurs and investors, then clearly, there will be a great price to pay down the line”.

“So, it is clear that governors have to think beyond four or eight-year cycles. There must be a commitment to laying a foundation that our successors will build on, and for successors to be ready to build on foundations laid.”

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