Namibia proposes additional levy on ICT devices including mobile phones

Namibians could soon be asked to pay additional taxes on information and communication technologies (ICTs) gadgets as the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) proposes a Bill that will charge an additional levy on imported devices such as mobile phones, computers, hard drives, printers, photocopy machines, scanners and USB sticks among others.

This comes as several countries in the world are reducing duties on ICT gadgets to enable their citizens to be digitally connected and reduce the digital gap.

The planned Bill, proposes to levy an additional duty on any device which can facilitate the storage or sharing of information to generate income which will be shared among the country’s creatives.

“It’s like a duty when you are importing something into the country, you will have to pay that levy at customs. Specifically, it’s targeting any device that is able to make a copy or distribute any work,” Ainna Kaundu, BIPA’s Executive: Intellectual Property Registration Services told The Brief.

“What other jurisdictions have done is that they put a levy on the devices that have the ability to either make a copy or to distribute such as your photocopy machine that can make copies of a book, a cellphone that is able to send songs and movies and your laptops and so forth.”

Kaundu said the new levy will be used to compensate artists such as musicians, authors and creators, photographers, painters, designers whose work has been plagiarised or pirated.

“To have a levy and not have a levy, should not even be a discussion, because we know how easy it is to reproduce intellectual property. At the moment we are looking at the principle, should we reward fairly and compensate our creatives. Should we, if the current system doesn’t work, at least provide them a system that can provide them that opportunity.”

Quizzed on the negative effect that the proposed levy will have on the pricing of targeted devices such as mobile phones and computers among others, with retailers expected to pass the additional costs to the consumer, Kaundu said, “absolutely, because we don’t do these things in isolation. We definitely had to consider the implications that it will have on the price and the consumer of those products. What we had to do was balance the interests.”

“How we are going to manage to make sure that we are not imposing an unnecessary and unwarranted burden on the consumers, is to look at rather how much this levy should be. The discussion should rather be on what is a reasonable levy that could amount to a fair compensation? Because everyone is in business to make some profit.”

Kaundu said the organization is currently at the consulting stage, but expects to have the Bill in Parliament by the end of the year.

“We still have a long way to go, we are only consolidating engagements now. It will then go to the cabinet. We are looking for by the end of the year or beginning of next year it will be Parliament. In terms of entering into force, it may take a little while as well,” she said.

Kaundu said Namibians are currently not conscious about intellectual property rights.

“This is based on our culture and upbringing as a society. We are people that share everything. We are people that sing songs but don’t expect to be compensated. It's something that we see an opportunity to educate the public on,” she said.

BIPA is responsible for the administration and protection of business and intellectual property in the country

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Last modified on Tuesday, 24 May 2022 19:23

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