Congolese commission calls on government to ditch phone tax

Congolese commission calls on government to ditch phone tax

A parliamentary commission has called for the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to abolish a tax on mobile devices.

The widely unpopular “phone tax” was implemented in 2020 by the telecoms ministry. It was intended to generate funds that would allow the regulator to maintain a secure central registry for connected devices, but the budget and finance commission has argued that the proceeds from the tax have thus far been untraceable.

Reuters reports that following a hearing last week, the commission has now called on the government to “put a definitive end to the levy… the resources of which are not traced either in the general budget or in the special accounts.”

The phone tax consists of a $1.17 levy on 3G or 4G devices – to be paid in six instalments – and a $0.17 levy on 2G phones. Since its introduction last year, it has provoked anger from the public as well as political outcry, with consumer bodies and opposition politicians arguing that the millions of dollars thus far generated by the tax remain unaccounted for.

An October report by the Congo Senate commission claimed that 30% of the funds raised from the tax would be granted to a private service provider selected for the technical implementation of the centralised registry, with 40% going to the government, 25% to the regulator and 5% to operators.

Consumer rights activist Joel Lamika commended the commission’s suggestions, decrying the tax as “a vast state swindle organised to rob an already poor population.” The government has thus far not confirmed whether it intends to follow the commission’s suggestion.

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