THE Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) says the private sector remained supportive of full liberalisation of the telecommunications sector but it should not be driven by high costs.
ZACCI president Michael Nyirenda said the chamber had reservations on the decision made by Government to introduce a 30 Ngwee daily charge on internet phone calls because it added to the high costs of doing business, which was already high.
On Monday last week, Cabinet approved the issuance of a Statutory Instrument to facilitate the introduction of a 30 Ngwee daily tariff to charge through mobile phone operators and internet providers.
Mr Nyirenda said, any possibility of double billing or double taxation for users must be avoided given when one buys a data bundle it grants them the leverage to use the same for either voice such as
WhatsApp calls or WhatsApp messaging.
Mr Nyirenda said in a statement issued in Lusaka recently that the chamber suspected that the consumer would be charged both on the top-end as well as on the lower-end.
“The anomaly we find as a private sector is that it is not possible to use WhatsApp and Facebook without a telecommunications or network provider through their designed product packages were some include data packages permitting multiple services.
“However, by introducing the tariff on internet phone calls, it appears that Government is somewhat assuming that a Data-call is free. Taxes are paid by the caller on that purchase. Taxes are collected on airtime and this is where data bundles come from, introducing a tariff
only double the taxes,” Mr Nyirenda said.
He said ZACCI noted that, the telecommunications sector as late as 2017 saw adjustments on its duty level such as the excise duty on airtime recently adjusted upwards to 17.5 per cent among others.
“At this stage we recommend that Government confronts the elements that are causing the constraints in real- Information and Communication Technology (ICT) growth which has seen poor service delivery vis-à-vis quality of service calls and the targeting of the ICT sector as a cash-cow,” he said.
“We request for a holistic review of the cost elements in the ICT sector and promotion of increased fair-competition for the government,
service providers and users,” he said.