The president of Cameroon has suspended a controversial telephone tax in the country.
In a correspondent addressed to the Prime Minister on Monday October 19th, 2020, the Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh instructed PM Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, to suspend the telephone tax which triggered outrage among youth and activists in the country.
“On high instructions from the president of the Republic, an appropriate mechanism of tax recovery should be put in place by the custom and taxation department in Cameroon”. Ngoh Ngoh stated in the ambiguous release.
The instruction from the president annuls that of the ministers of finance and post and telecommunications, that order for the implementation of phone tax in Cameroon starting this October.
According to the release, it appears that the method of payment of the tax has been submitted for review at PM’s office
History will recall that the controversial phone tax was supposed to go operational on the Thursday October 15th, 2020.
Cameroonians have expressed satisfaction.
“I Am particularly happy that president Paul Biya has canceled the phone tax. Though it’s coming four days late,we are all the same happy that ministers have not really succeeded this time to extort money from Cameroonians as they have been doing in the past years,” Frank Noulah, a Douala city dweller tells Mimi Mefo Info.
But Others are questioning if people that have paid the tax already since 15th October will be reimbursed.
Okay na good🙏🏽now lets focus on #endanglophonecrisis tweet and retweet massively and aggressively!!!— David🇨🇲🦍 (@david_leke_) October 19, 2020
In an earlier explanation by Gaspar Neba, the interim director of customs while promoting the tax policy, stated that the phone tax was to recover custom duties from those who import telephones by taxing the final consumers (phone users). The phone tax is contained in article 7th of 2019 finance law adopted by legislative houses in Cameroon.
As president Paul Biya demands government to cancel the phone tax, that involves the payment of 33.05% of the production price of all phones, tablets and modems imported to Cameroon, he has equally instructed the head of government, to seek alternative means on tax recovery.
It remains unclear if government will redouble effort to get the taxes from phone importers or turn around to still place it on the shoulders of the final users.
#EndPhoneTax Campaign: misplaced priority?
The campaign to annul the controversial phone tax bill has been described by many as a misplaced priority.
Some activists have also taken on social media, calling for an end to the Anglophone crisis which to them “is a much bigger problem” than the phone tax.
They urged Cameroonians to direct their resources, time and energy in calling on government to urgently address the armed conflict which is now in its fourth year.
The Anglophone crisis which start in 2016 has claimed the lives of thousands and let to the displacement of over a million English-speaking citizens in Cameroon.
Calls for genuine dialogue and a ceasefire have fallen on deaf ears.
Read more about the suspended tax here