Cameroonians will from October 15, 2020 begin paying a 30% tax levied on mobile phones.
In a joint communiqué signed by the ministers of Post and Telecommunications and of Finance, authorities explained that the new move falls in context with the 2019 finance law.
Going by article 7 of the said law, all imported Mobile telephones as well as electronic or digital tablets will be taxed.
“… These duties and taxes are collected and handed no later than the 15th of each month, to the competent customs service by all telephone companies…” It reads in part.
The article adds that enterprises involved in the sector “… are required, in collaboration with the competent State services or their agents, to configure their systems in such a way as to avoid any connection to their respective networks by non-custom phones and tablets.”
The announcement of the enforcement of the law has sparked widespread criticism, leading to a #EndPhoneTax hashtag on social media platforms.
Posts and Telecommunications minister, Minette Libom has since been busy rendering explanations on twitter.
To her, the change is not in the cost of phones, but the manner of taxing the product, which is the introduction of a digital system.
“… nothing has really changed. The finance law stipulates that telephones as well as digital tablets will henceforth be subject to a telephone levy, as part of the customs fee. What has been done for this purpose is to dematerialize this tax by setting up a digital mechanism” she tweeted.
In addition to the fact that “… mobile phones and electronic tablets can be imported without customs duties and taxes, except in cases where the importer makes spontaneous payment of the duties due,” she further explained that “… the mobile phones of travellers temporarily living in Cameroon and who are using their phones and terminals in roaming mode are also exempted from the said levy.”
“The platform for the digital collection of customs duties and taxes on mobile phones automatically offers the consumer an invoicing option (full payment in one instalment or payment in instalments of the duties due) based on the type of phone used” she added.
Many remain unconvinced with the minister’s explanation. “It’s not the responsibility of the state? Why do we need a government then ?” One twitter user questioned her assertion that it is also the responsibility of the consumer to ensure that a telephone purchased is cleared through customs.
A lot of questions about the said tax remain unanswered as Cameroonians express their discontent.
This is not the first time Cameroonians are taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction with government action. Months back, similar concerns were raised with a bill by the country’s ministry of Arts and Culture, MINAC.
The online protests and even meetings with the minister of Arts and Culture failed to yield any fruits.
Like with the MINAC bill, many fear the trend on this too will likely pass soon and only return to haunt Cameroonians in future.
Mimi Mefo Info