June 8 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo has issued
invoices to telecoms operators under a new tax that is expected
to cost them around $180 million per year, two sources familiar
with the matter said on Wednesday.
The government adopted the tax imposing levies on every
phone call, text message and megabyte of data in March. Telecoms
companies operating in Congo include Airtel, Vodacom
, Orange and Africell.
The tax replaced another levy that was withdrawn a month
earlier after sparking public protests and a parliamentary
inquiry into where the revenues were going.
The Congo Authority for Post and Telecommunications
Regulation (ARPTC) issued an order earlier this year blocking
price increases on consumers, meaning the burden of the new tax
will fall on the companies.
The national chamber of commerce said in a statement on
Tuesday that the levy threatened to squeeze a telecoms sector
whose taxes are already far higher than the average in
"All the operators in Congo have rejected these invoices,
judging them to be tarnished by irregularities and thus
unenforceable," it said.
The invoices cover a period of roughly six weeks and come to
about $20 million, one of the sources said, asking not to be
A government spokesman referred a request for comment to the
ARPTC, which could not be immediately reached. Representatives
for the telecom companies were not available to comment.
(Reporting by Aaron Ross and Nqobile Dludla; editing by Barbara