On October 21, 2019, Mobile networks in Nigeria started charging Nigerians (tax) for using quick bank USSD short codes services. Below is samples of text messages sent by MTN to its subscribers in Nigeria in regards to the latest taxation.
Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info.Yello, Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you.
And this one;
Yello, Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you.
This is a very bad news to Nigerians who are already battling and complaining of recent 5% withdrawal charges that was imposed last month.
Struggling Economy + Biting Taxations = Citizens Frustrations.
This proposed USSD taxation should better end as a dream, and never come to reality. Taxing mobile phone users for using Quick or Short Codes in seeking services of their Network Providers or doing bank transactions is not only draconian, but provocative.
Already, government has said we should go cashless and Nigerians are exploring the alternative of using Short Codes to do urgent banking transactions. Why then discouraging them with this obnoxious tax on USSD?
The principle of taxation is hinged on income redistribution. That is to say, taking from where there is surplus resources, using it to provide for where there is shortage or scarcity. This actually does not apply to tax on USSD. Reason been that every mobile phone user is susceptible to this tax, and not every mobile phone user has enough to redistribute. The rich, including the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria today are phone users.
It is so because, the use of mobile phone is no longer the exclusive privilege of the haves as we were told sometime by David Mark.
Mobile phone has become an integral part of daily life in our contemporary world, even beggers on the streets has theirs. Mobile phone is a profound necessity in Nigeria, today. Everyone needs it for their safety and security, business transaction and effective communication with friends and loved ones. Even official businesses of government requires that one provides his phone numbers.
Taxation on USSD affects every Nigerian, including those in abject penury, the unemployed, the sick and the aged. Having said that, I consider it injurious, harsh and hellish to demand from those who are already economically and socially deprived and exploited to start paying tax for the purposes of using Quick Codes to seek services from their Network Providers and Banks.
If this is a thought, it must be perished. Latest information from Punch has it that CBN has opposed the planned bank USSD charges from MTN.
Which way Nigeria?