How public outrage forces govt to revise increase in Courier licence fees
By Oludare Mayowa
An innocuous tweet by a public analyst Joe Abah on Saturday has triggered a chain of reactions from the minister of communications and digital economy Isa Ali Pantami over the increase in licence fee for courier services by the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
Abah, who was a former Director-General of the Bureau for Public Sector Reform until 2017 and social media enthusiast had written a post on his verified Twitter handle calling the attention of Pantami to the new requirements by NIPOST for courier and logistics services in the country.
“Good morning, Honourable Minister @DrIsaPantami. Have you considered the effect of the @NipostNgn Courier Licence requirements on the digital economy, small business and self-employment? It appears to go against your vision. I would like to understand the logic please,” Abah had written on his Twitter handle.
Abah, who holds a Ph.D. in Governance and Public Policy Analysis has become an authority on issues of governance and also a sensation among the younger generations who follow his tweet enthusiastically and has continued to influence some policy intervention through his social media activities.
However, before his tweet to the minister, he had written; “At a time when govts all around the world (including Nigerian state govts) are reducing taxes, granting tax holidays and helping out small businesses, the Federal Govt wants to enforce Stamp Duty and NIPOST Courier Licence fees? I don’t get it.”
However, in a swift response to his tweet, the minister of Communications and Digital Economy responded that the issue is being investigated by his ministry since he was not involved with the new requirements.
“The increase, is under investigation by my office, since yesterday. The Ministry and the Minister were not involved. Many thanks and best wishes!” Pantami wrote in response to Abah’s message.
The good news was that immediately thereafter, the minister issued a statement suspending the proposed increment of license fee for Courier and Logistic Services by NIPOST.
In a tweet, Pantami said the increase of licence fee was not part of the regulation he had earlier approved for NIPOST and asked the chairman of the postal agency to put the implementation on hold with a report to his office thereafter on Monday.
According to the minister, the power of regulation of NIPOST lies with him as the minister in charge of the agency and any change of fee would have to be approved by his ministry before implementation.
“Pls @NipostNgn, our attention has been drawn to an increase of licence fee, which was not part of the regulation I earlier APPROVED for you. Your Chair and PMG were YESTERDAY contacted to put the implementation on hold and send a report to our ministry by Monday. Best wishes!
“@NipostNgn, d power of regulation of NIPOST lies with the Minister. Any change of fee must be specific & be approved by him before implementation. I know the economic challenges of NIPOST. However, looking at the economic hardship of our citizens, we need to suspend any move,” the minister wrote on his Twitter handle.
NIPOST had in a statement signed by its public affairs manager rolled out new licencing fees to be paid by operators in the courier service sector of the economy.
According to NIPOST, companies that provide international courier services like DHL, UPS and FEDEX, are expected to pay N20 million for a new licence and N8 million annually while those who offer national services are expected to pay N10 million for licence and N4 million yearly for renewal.
The news has generated anger and outrage among Nigerians who felt that the government should be encouraging business sustainability rather than imposing more taxes, which could discourage growth within the sector and the economy at large.
In the NIPOST statement, the minister of communications and digital economy was quoted to have initially approved the measures, to “enhance the operations of courier and logistic serves in Nigeria.”
The statement which was signed by Franklin Alao, the General manager, corporate communications of NIPOST said the minister “has approved new guidelines for Courier and Logistics Operations 2020 in line with Section 62 of NIPOST Act.. to replace the former regulations which have been in existence since 2001.”
The intervention of the minister has received commendations from many Nigerians across the divide and has brought to the fore the citizen’s role in shaping and helping to make the country a working society.
It has also brought into focus the power of collective governance when citizens get involved with governance and the responsibility of those in government to be responsive to the yearning of the people.
The incidence has also exposed the lack of coordination in governance and lack of capacity for those in government to think through their action before putting such in the public domain.
The government is yet to respond to the outrage generated by the imposition of six percent Stamp Duty on tenancy agreements and purchases and processing of land and property documentation.
The government had in its desperations to shore up it revenue base has continue to pursue the implementation of Stamp Duty as contained in the Finance Act 2020, which has triggered outrage among the populace, especially when some banks had deducted backlog of stamp duty on deposits last month.
Minister of finance and budget had said recently that government is starting to rake in about N1 trillion revenue from the implementation of the Stamp Duty tax.#GFD