MTN: OTT players don’t pay tax in SA

2016-01-26 13:14 - Duncan Alfreds, Fin24
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Parliament has held a meeting into possible regulation of services such as WhatsApp in South Africa. (Duncan Alfreds)

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Cape Town - Over-the-top (OTT) technologies such as WhatsApp and Skype don’t pay taxes in South Africa, says mobile network MTN [JSE:MTN].

MTN’s corporate service executive, Graham de Vries, made this claim in a presentation at a Parliament meeting on Tuesday. The meeting discussed possible regulation for OTT services in South Africa.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services set up the meeting after the CEOs of MTN South Africa and Vodacom last year said that OTT services don’t contribute financially to local networks.

After presentations from the likes of the executive director of Research ICT Africa Professor Alison Gillwald and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) at the meeting, MTN’s de Vries addressed MPs and stakeholders.

“It's government's prerogative to regulate around security, tax,” de Vries told Parliament.

He then further posed questions about security of personal information that OTTs have access to.

OTTs have 'no obligations'

The MTN executive’s comments came after Icasa CEO Pakamile Pongwana also posed questions at the meeting around OTTs.

"OTTs have no licence; no obligations,” Pongwana said at the meeting.

The Icasa CEO noted that while OTTs stimulate demand for data, they have "no contribution to network investment" and that "operators have no mechanism to recover costs".

He also said that OTT providers can't be monitored or intercepted

The OTT meeting in Parliament is expected to continue until 17:00 on Tuesday.

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