Congo telecoms operators face $180 million tax hit

STORY: Telecoms operators in the Democratic Republic of Congo are facing a tax hit which could cost them around $180 million per year.

Two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday (June 8) that invoices had been issued to telecoms operators in the country.

The invoices cover a period of roughly six weeks and come to about $20 million, one of the sources said, asking not to be named.

The government adopted the tax imposing levies on every phone call, text message and megabyte data in March.

It replaced another levy that was withdrawn a month earlier, after sparking public protests, as well as a parliamentary inquiry into where the revenues were going.

The Congo Authority for Post and Telecommunications Regulation - or ARPTC - issued an order earlier this year blocking price increases on consumers, which means the burden of the new tax will fall on the companies.

A government spokesman referred a request for comment to the ARPTC, which could not be immediately reached.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the national chamber of commerce said “All the operators in Congo have rejected these invoices, judging them to be tarnished by irregularities and thus unenforceable.”

It added that the levy threatened to squeeze the telecoms sector whose taxes are already far higher than the average in sub-Saharan Africa.

Representatives for the telecom companies were not available to comment.