The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria has lamented the huge tax burden telecoms operators bear as a result of statutory and non-statutory taxes and levies from government agencies. The Secretary, ALTON, Mr Gbolahan Awonuga, said in a statement that the cost of doing business in the country was enormous despite the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the Federal Government. He noted that the cost of running business in the country was triple the cost in Ghana and other neighbouring countries. “We have witnessed in Nigeria today that most of the regulatory bodies have left the regulatory functions and now turn to revenue generating bodies and this brings about multiple taxation and regulation. “Please don’t forget that telecommunications operations are not isolated to the ecosystem, the cost of running business in Nigeria, especially telecoms is triple the cost of running same in Ghana and neighbouring countries. Almost all agencies of government are after telecommunications, why? We cannot afford to have crisis in the industry because we operate one network in all networks. He called on the Federal Government to consider a review of the Tax and Levy Amended Order 2015 signed by a former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonji-Iwaela. According to him, the order has created a lot of confusion in the industry. The association complained about the sabotage operators were facing in some states, saying the cost of right of way formed more than half of the cost of constructing telecoms infrastructure. Awonuga added, “This order has created a lot of confusion in the taxes and levies regime and making the environment harsh for business, not minding the government Ease of Doing Business programme. “The telecommunications industry has been the best customer-centric sector, where issue pertaining to subscribers are taken very seriously by both the operators and the regulator and despite all the challenges, there has not for once be an outage compare to other sectors, where you are put on estimated bills and inconsistence in flight schedules that has made several people missed appointments and valued meetings just to mention few. “We are talking about smart state initiatives and last mile penetration but some states’ demands on Right of Way are outrageous. The states are supposed to provide infrastructure for operators to lease but telecoms spent about 70 per cent of their capex on Right of Way leaving the remaining 30 per cent to build, this is not fair.” Awonuga also clarified some media reports which stated that there was a face-off between the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and ALTON and its members. According to him, ALTON sought clarifications on the charges, which led to the formation of an Advisory Committee which comprised NCAA and ALTON representatives. Awonuga added that the agency had also explained reasons for aviation height clearance, saying it was for safety as pilots needed guidance on the routes to navigate. “We were informed that there are categories of aircraft, big, medium and small, also the choppers and the drones are part of their responsibilities and these are not limited to telecoms infrastructure but to banks, radio stations and high-rise building. The director general said there were lots of airstrips and helipads, thus the reason for charging across the board,” he said. “The issue of aviation mast height clearance was discussed at the meeting because our members are being charged across the nation be it close to the airports or not and the agency tried to increase some of the charges as reported to us by our members and we took it up with the NCAA. Our members are responsible corporate citizens of the country and natural partners in progress that follow due processes.