Targets 95% digital literacy in 10yrs
By Emmanuel Elebeke
Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mallam Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) has condemned the move by Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS to collect Stamp Duties, saying that the collection remains the sole responsibility of Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST.
The Minister spoke on Friday during an interactive press session with the ICT reporters in Abuja.
He posited that Stamp duty should be collected by NIPOST the way Customs duty is collected by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), insisting that the FIRS or the Ministry of Finance have no business in collecting Stamp duty because there is no justification for that.
‘‘The FIRS has been working to be the agency collecting the duty; the crisis started before my appointment as the Minister and I was not briefed on time about the real situation. But when I heard about it, I intervened and I presented the case to the President that Stamp Duty should be collected by NIPOST.
‘‘There is no harm if FIRS supports them and they work harmoniously but that collection of the duty should not be done by FIRS or the Ministry of Finance because there is no justification for that.’’
The minister explained that the FIRS expressed worry that the FIRS in its bid to take over the collection of Stamp duty invited stakeholders that will be collecting Stamp Duty without involving the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy or NIPOST.
‘‘They only invited few stakeholders that will support their interest who endorsed it saying that FIRS should collect Stamp Duty but we objected to it. I wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance saying that this cannot be tolerated; I also wrote the Senate President on the issue, we insisted on our stand. Though we have no power to change government policy we have the power to challenge injustice and as far as I am concerned, this is one of the many injustices that should be challenged.
‘‘We insist that Stamp duty should be collected by NIPOST and it is an injustice if NIPOST is denied the opportunity. We have advised the government on this and the government has the final say on it but we insist that NIPOST is the right agency to do that. For us, it is a selfish interest trying to deny NIPOST the right to collect the duty,’’ he said.
He, however, clarified that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had not discussed nor taken a position on the matter contrary to the insinuation that it had given approval to the FIRS to be collecting the revenue.
Meanwhile, the Minister said the ministry is putting measures in place to ensure that at least 95% of Nigerians get digitized in the next 10 years and to align with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP of the Federal Government and the global best practices.
According to him, the ministry is embarking on a massive training of Nigerians on digital literacy and skills to ensure that at least 95 percent of Nigerians are digital literate.
To achieve this, he explained that he had mandated the ministry to develop and implement digital economy and develop a draft of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy which captured a digital Nigeria that would ensure that there will be no manual operations in the next 10 years in order to have a digital Nigeria in place.
For the policy to take a national outlook, Pantami said States and Local governments must key into the policy.
‘‘We are not telling Nigerians to migrate into the digital economy in order to start taxing them unnecessarily. The price of data, mobile devices must come down for the digital economy to thrive.
‘‘Want to embark on massive training of Nigerians on digital literacy and skills. I want to ensure that at least 95 percent of Nigerians are digital literate. Want to enhance the penetration of broadband especially in the underserved and unserved areas in the country through the deployment of solid infrastructure.’’