The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may jerk up fees paid for its licences to help the Federal Government shore up revenue to finance this year’s budget, it was gathered at the weekend.
Nigeria relies essentially on oil to fund it budget but the outbreak of COVID-19 has made oil prices to fall as low as $20 per barrel. This development has led to the revision of 2020 Budget from N10. 594 trillion signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari to N10. 523 trillion by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) while the government has gone on borrowing spree.
The telecom sector has become one of the cash cows of the government. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the contribution of the information communications technology (ICT) sector to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) has reached 14.07per cent.
NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Garba, who dropped the hint, said the the Commission is reviewing all the fees it collects from licences, including spectrum allocation, sales and installation, and cabling services.
Accoring to him, the NCC plans to review all the fees because the Federal Government needs money to fund the budget.
Garba spoke at a virtual conversation on the socio-economic and political impact of COVID-19 on telecoms and ICT sector in Nigeria organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
Aside offering spectrum licences, which are usually bidded for, the NCC issues class licences for sales and installation; repairs and maintenance of telecoms facilities; cabling services; telecentre/cyber café; and public payphone services.
Under its individual licences, the Commission also issues licences for internet services, non-commercial closed user group, sales and installation, unified access service licence, international data access, international gateway, interconnect exchange, metropolitan (fibre) cable network, national carrier, national long distance communications (NLDO), public mobile communications – trunk radio services, international submarine cable infrastructure and landing station services, value added services – aggregator, value added services (VAS), infrastructure sharing and collocation services and automated vehicular tracking service.
Others are open access fibre infrastructure network (INFRACOs), wholesale wireless access service and private network links (PNL).
Aside payment for licences, the mobile network operators pay operating levy (AOL), which is one per cent of their profit after tax.