Finance and Economic Development Minister Hon Patrick Chinamasa while presenting the 2018 National Budget revealed that state controlled mobile network operators, Telecel and NetOne, defaulted on licence fee payments, prejudicing government of $7,5 million and denting Treasury’s non-tax revenue targets.
But according to sources it should be understood that the underscored companies have been diligently honouring their license payments in quarterly installments.
“Telecel and NetOne just skipped this quarter leading to the deficit which the minister spoke about,” said the source who requested anonymity.
While these companies are likely to pay up, Telecel CEO Angeline Vere had not responded by the time of going live.
Government’s non-tax revenue streams include fees collected by its departments, fines, rentals, interest, dividends and business licence charges. Presenting the 2018 National Budget, Chinamasa said government had missed its nine-month non-tax revenue target of $221,6 million by 24,1 percent. Non-tax revenue amounted to $168,1 million between January and September 2017.
“The non-performance of this revenue head is mainly due to partial remittance of pension contributions, nonpayment of anticipated telecoms licence fees by Telecel and NetOne, that were due on 30 June 2017, and lower than anticipated dividends from parastatals,” Chinamasa’s 2018 budget statement reads. The statement shows that budget had anticipated $7,5 million revenue from the two mobile network operators.
Government owns 100 percent of NetOne and acquired 60 percent of Telecel in 2016. Econet, the sole privately owned mobile network firm, has routinely complained about what it terms an uneven playing field in the industry, where its government-related rivals enjoy waivers on paying licence fees. Econet paid $137,5 million to renew its licence in 2013.