President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the collection of taxes on every phone call made by Nigerians.
The telecom tax in the equivalent of a minimum of one kobo per second for phone calls is a part of the sources of funds required to finance free healthcare for the Vulnerable Group in Nigeria.
The newly approved tax is contained in the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 signed by the president last week.
The act includes a provision under Section 26 subsection 1c which states that the source of money for the Vulnerable Group Fund includes telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls.
According to the act, the Vulnerable Group Fund is money budgeted to pay for healthcare services for vulnerable Nigerians who cannot pay for health insurance in a bid to subsidise the cost of provision of health care services to vulnerable people in the country.
The act also makes provision for several options such as basic health care provision fund to the authority; health insurance levy; telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls; money that may be allocated to the Vulnerable Group Fund by the Government; motley that accrues to the Vulnerable Group Fund from investments made by the Council: and grants, donations, gifts, and any other voluntary contributions made to the Vulnerable Group Fund.
The new tax is coming few weeks after telecom companies wrote to the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) demanding an upward review of calls and data tariff by 40 %.
The levy, according to the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, is in response to the country’s rising operating costs.