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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Poverty hampers broadcast taxes in Africa – Report

By Remmy Nweke

THE level of poverty on the continent may have contributed immensely to the inability of the populace to accept the evolution of paying specifically for their radio and television broadcast taxes, according to a research conducted by an online newshound, ITRealms Online, recently

The research had respondents across the continent including Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa as well as Nigeria among others.

Investigations revealed that in a country like Uganda, such taxes were supposed to take off as at August 1, 2005, but was scrapped by the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in order not to burden the already impoverished populace further.

A respondent and lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, Ms Sara Namusoga, noted the scrapping was to save the populace from another tax burden.

In South Africa, for instance, the populace according to the research findings showed only pay tax for TV, currently. Although before now, radio tax was being collected by the South African Post and Telecommunications, that was, prior to restructuring of the polity.

As at date the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) collects taxes for television licenses.

The research also touched ground in Tanzania, where it was learnt that radio or TV owners do not pay taxes for usage in the country.

“Since independence in 1961, there has not been any tax changed for radio or tv,” a respondent, Mr. Emmanuel Onyango, was quoted in the report.

In recent times, especially in 1990s, there was one national radio station in Tanzania before the liberalization of the media sector in 1992.

Scrapping of such taxes as radio and tv in the Tanzanian’s government was to reduce the poverty level of her citizens.

He further described plans to introduce taxes, if any as unimaginable for now in a place like Tanzania.

Also in the East African country of Malawi, the ITRealms Online research indicated that few Malawian media practitioners could afford to pay taxes on their radio and television sets equally due to poverty level and disparity in the income.

Additionally, those who managed to own TV sets, mostly reside in the cities whereas there is no distinctive radio policy for taxation in the country.

The report also quoted Ms Rebecca Chimjeka, as saying that though the government has began talks on the issue of tax but only for the radio, for instance.

“But it could take a long time to permeate the system by way of drafting the policy and implementation,” she submitted.

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