Chris Steven, Abuja
For Nigeria to end its economic recession, the government must urgently create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and drive the economic recovery efforts, Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki has said.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Mohammed Isa, made this known while receiving members of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), who paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
He said, “we must move away from our thinking of the past that it is only government that can make our economy to recover and grow. Even if the government spends all her monies without the efforts of the private sector, the situation would continue to be the same. It is only the private sector, if strengthened and encouraged, that can take us out of this recession.
“Our only responsibility as a government is to create enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and drive the economic recovery efforts, and that has been our focus in the National Assembly”, he said.
While assuring ATCON of the support of the legislature to enable the telecommunication sector grow beyond its current level, Saraki also charged the operators to ensure that Nigerians get value for their money, adding that, the telecommunication companies could also improve lives through performance of corporate social responsibilities and reinvesting into the sector.
Saraki, who promised to look into the issues raised by the delegation relating to the Communication Service Tax (CST) Bill, assured that “we in the Senate will not do anything that will stunt the growth of the sector”.
The President of ATCON, Engr. Olusola Teniola, said the visit was to plead with the leadership of the Senate to reconsider the Communication Service Tax (CST) Bill before it. The proposed Bill among other things, recommended nine per cent tax for telecommunication companies.
In the alternative, the ATCON recommended “a tax reform that increases the current VAT by a new one per cent added for the purpose of development of communications”.
Teniola, who expressed concern over the high rate of subscription fees by Internet users in Nigeria, noted that, “the reality of Internet access in Nigeria is that it’s all about mobile. Only about 13 per cent of Nigerians get broadband access via mobile, while less than one per cent is on fixed services.”