MINPOSTEL clears doubts on Cameroon’s Telephone tax

Since it was announced that taxes will be paid for phones and other terminals in Cameroon, alot of controversies have begun arising. One of such is questioning why the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, MINPOSTEL has to be at the helm of it.

To this effect, the ministry on Tuesday October 13 decided to bring to the notice of the public the reason for the phone tax and how they are involved in its realisation.

Why the implementation of a phone tax in Cameroon

The phone tax system in Cameroon is included in the 2019 finance law. It was recently revisited after the Ministry of Finance, MINFI realized there had been a gross tax evasion by telephone dealers.
According to MINFI, the state of Cameroon has recorded a drastic drop in revenue from the importation of telephones. “Today,less than 100 million CFA francs are collected per month out of the approximately 2 billion collected in the 2000’s. This decrease contrasts with the increase in the number and quality of telephones imported…”.
In addition to this, MINFI revealed that nearly 4 million telephones are imported to the country yearly and when taxes for these gadgets are not paid, the government experiences a deficit of almost 12billion per year.
The phone tax system is also a way to provide the Customs Administration with modern tools for collecting tax where it is found.
The acting general manager of custom, Dr Gasper Neba and the head of legislative division at the directorate general of customs Dr Innocent Diffo stated that the telephone tax is not a new tax that has been instituted. It had been existing only that there has been an adjustment in the method of collection.
The digitalization of the collection of custom duties is a way avoid phone tax evasion such that whatever way a phone gets in to the country, it is taxed.

The role of MINPOSTEL in the phone tax collection

“MINPOSTEL is the technical partner of the state in matters of electronic communications. Once the Finance bill of 2019 was passed at the national assembly and promulgated by the Head of State wherein in Article 7 of the bill it was stated that custom duties on mobile phones and other access devices can be collected at the point of state by operators, MINPOSTEL had to step in to work with the customs department, mobile operators and the platform provider in order to ensure that the platform is developed in conformity with all legal, security and regulatory frameworks”. Journalists were told at the ministry.

The technical adviser to the minister of Post and Telecommunications Dr. Mfuh Windfred reminded the population that MINPOSTEL is not in charge of instituting taxes but rather it helps the Finance ministry to effectively realise these taxes through electronic means.

He added that an application will be used to track phones whose taxes have not been duely paid for.

Who is to pay the phone tax

According to MINFI, the tax placed on mobile phones is normally supposed to be paid by telephone dealers in the country. However, since some of these dealers tend to evade these taxes, individuals who have purchase phones whose tax duties have not been paid will pay 33% of the cost. To this effect, phone users in Cameroon have been advised to confirm if the phones they are buying are tax free so as to avoid paying these taxes subsequently.
Those who had already been using mobile phones or other related terminals before the effected date of the tax system are said to be exempted from paying the tax for their old gadgets.

Of what benefit is the phone tax?

Aside the fact that collecting phone taxes will increase the country’s revenue, the new system is expected to keep records of mobile phone users. It is also expected that the application used to check tax payment by mobile phone operators will help in tracking a lost mobile phone ones the person goes to any service provider. It is believed that the system will equally reduce the use of mobile phones to carry out illicit financial activities.

The collection of telephone taxes is expected to begin on Thursday October 15.

By Sandrine M.

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