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Unruly Bank Charges, Vat on Airtime by Telcos

BY ISAAC ORIEKA Mobile: 08027523483, iorieka@yahoo.com

The unstructured supplementary data known as the (USSD),for money transfer transactions being charges initiated by telecoms companies of 4 naira per 20 seconds in 2019 was not approved by the bank chief executives for the GSM operators, MTN, Globacom, 9Mobile and Airtel networks.
However, the association of licensed telecom operators of Nigeria said the charge was determined by the NCC and telecoms operators to make more profit to squeeze Nigerians of their hard earned cash in this harsh economic coronavirus crunch where businesses are dull and static.
Since the emergency of Global Systems for Mobile communication (GSM) in Nigeria, precisely 16 years and three months ago, which was in the third year of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s first term, the Telcos have raked huge sums of profit from Nigerians with poor call dropping, voice mail and other illegitimate technical applied technology used to manipulate consumers in order to further consolidate their profits.
The Telcos have always put forward the jumbo cost of running their communication business in Nigeria. But the manufacturing sector has been suffering from poor investment infrastructure for a long time which has made production of goods and services expensive to cope with. So, their argument of charges on call; text messages; and data usage is an excuse with no superior point.
Before they invested in Nigeria, it is obvious a practical feasibility assessment was done from their business experience in other countries.
Our laws are not effectively followed that is why foreign investors take us for granted by using illegal business sharp practices to defraud unsuspecting Nigerian consumers who are not protected by agency set up by the government for that purpose.
The charges hit the polity so much, that Nigerians are been carried away by the unfriendly ‘Talk is cheap’ phrase.
The 7.5 per cent value added tax increase started in February 1, 2020, with the assent of the financial bill signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari which reviewed the value added tax from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent that has to take effect on telecommunications products and services reflecting in the charges of phone calls, text messages and data plan in Nigeria.
A tariff transparency and quality service was put forward by the Buhari government and telcos while signing the finance bill into law. He said, “the bill was designed to support, implement and create a truly enabling environment business and investment by the private sector. The financial transaction charges are regulated by the CBN as stipulated in the bankers tariff. ALTON said the determination for the networks to charge USSD started via a study conducted by the regulator in 2017, and by 2019 the law was enacted.
Nigeria is ranked the 4th largest telecom market globally from the sixth position. Nigeria spends between N447.8bn on airtime/data per month an average of N14bn daily calls as at 2016 in the NCC report.
Every hour, a bank makes N4m from recharges of phones, Banks, Jumia and others focuses on VTU telecom businesses than their core financial/e-commerce business, why they are making heavy sums of money doing business with data/airtime which is now the world most valuable resources according to the economist.com.
An average Nigerian spends N3,000 or more on airtime monthly but will get less airtime space and denied call time and data even when your recharge is meant for one month or a week. All banks in Nigeria have now become vendors of VTU on all their channels and they are seriously advertising the business.
If the banks are honest, why engage in USSD transactions with the telecoms companies with a lot money of wholeheartedly coming to them with this initiative. Besides, no notification was given to subscribers about this tariff plan as banks deduct as much as 50 naira for USSD transactions when services and the infrastructure provided are not maintained by the network operators for efficient services to consumers.
All the broadband adverts and reliably more data by the networks is fallacy and a ruse with the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, the increase on the value added tax, an analyst said is capable of heightening inflation this year.
The telcos have keyed into the Nigerian system of cheating consumers by making talking so expensive unlike other African countries where strict regulations are enforced. No doubt all the landlines have crashed with no trace of bouncing back. Our system should be structured in a way businesses are conducted abroad with some transparency, honesty and a commitment to standard socio-economic development to enhance a healthy lifestyle.