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FG directs telcos to reverse unilateral tariff hike on data, voice calls

The Federal Government has directed concerned Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to halt the unilateral upward tariff adjustments.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), through a letter dated Oct. 12, gave the directive following media reports of unilateral implementation of the recently approved 10 per cent upward tariff adjustments.

The adjustments were for some voice and data services by the service providers on their networks.

NCC’s Director, of Public Affairs, Dr Reuben Muoka, made this known in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

Muoka said that the consideration for 10 per cent approval was in line with the mandates of the commission as provided by the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.

He also said that it was in line with other extant Regulations and Guidelines, as this was within the provisions of the existing price floor and price cap as determined for the industry.

He said that the decision was taken after a critical and realistic review, and analysis of the operational environment and the current business climate in Nigeria, as it affects all sectors of the economy.

“The tariff adjustment was proposed and provisionally approved by the management, pending the final approval of the Board of the Commission.

“However, in the end, it did not have the approval of the Board of the Commission. As a result, it is reversed,” he said.

He said that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, had maintained that his priority was to protect the citizens and ensure justice to all stakeholders involved.

He quoted the minister as saying: “As such, anything that will bring more hardship at this critical time will not be accepted.

“This was also why he obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the suspension of the proposed 5 per cent excise duty, in order to maintain a conducive enabling environment for the telecom operators.

“Much as there is an increase in the cost of production, the provision of telecom services is still very profitable and it is necessary that the subscribers are not subjected to a hike in charges.”

In view of the above, he said the Commission would carry out further consultations with all industry stakeholders on the best approaches to protect and uphold the interest of both the consumers and the service providers.

“The commission will continue to entrench very transparent processes and procedures for rates determination in the industry.

“The process is usually carried out with wide industry consultation.

“It is through these processes that price floors and price caps for data and voice services are benchmarked, regularly reviewed, and determined from time to time.

“The commission will continue to abide by this time-tested process and international best practice to ensure efficient pricing mechanism for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria,” he said.

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