Cameroonians have for days now been expressing discontent over the implementation of part of the 2019 finance law.
According to a section of the law, government has announced plans to levy a 33% tax on mobile phones from Thursday, October 15th.
The amount will be levied on every phone purchased. It also gives phone dealers the possibility of passing the tax burden over to the buyers.
The said tax applies regardless of who is using the newly purchased device and where it was bought. It is not clear how transparent the tax levy procedure will be.
Mimi Mefo Info spoke to an economist in Cameroon’s commercial capital, Douala, Nyulsever Killian, who thinks government’s reasons advanced for the tax don’t add up.
To him, it exposes the regime’s lapses and inability to effectively collect tax from phone importers and is now taxing citizens. He believes the problem lies with customs and not local consumers.
“… Any tax on the consumer in an economy is always bad. Therefore, the 33.05% phone tax normally does not go down well,” he said.
The economist adds that another problem faced by many is communication airtime which is very expensive in Cameroon.
To him, “…communication airtime remains expensive in Cameroon. This is what Cameroonians purchase every time and every day and therefore it affects their financial package more”.
Government’s focus he says should rather be on making communication more affordable and accessible to everyone.
Despite the downsides of the 2019 tax law set to go operational, Nyulsever Killian says it may not be completely negative as many think it is.
“… Telephones in Cameroon are a luxury good to many people. This means that those who have telephones are the haves and not the have nots. They can pay the tax…” He explains.
Since the government announced the implementation of the said tax, many have expressed worries over several aspects of the tax, including the aspect of data collection and privacy.
Despite assurances from Post and Telecommunications minister, Ninette Libom over the safety of consumers’ data, many still express doubts over the said bill.
While some question the applicability of the said digitisation of the tax process, others are worried over what the revenue collected will be used for as government continues to spend heavily in the fight against separatists in the country’s English-speaking regions.
(C) Mimi Mefo Info