Telecoms: Reps uncover N5bn tax evasion, set to lay interim report

Telecoms: Reps uncover N5bn tax evasion, set to lay interim report

The Adhoc Committee inaugurated by the leadership of the House of Representatives to investigate the operational activities of telecommunication equipment and service companies/vendors in Nigeria has uncovered over N5 billion unpaid taxes.

The Ad-hoc Committee which was set up in May 2017, was also mandated to examine the parameters and procedures used by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in approving funds transfers for these companies.
According to the interim report issued by the Adhoc Committee, ZTE Nigeria Limited allegedly owe N530,504,927.86; Ericsson allegedly owe N1,056,735,665.77; HUAWEI allegedly owe N725,889,456.75; Airtel allegedly owe N875,111,895.50; Glo allegedly owe N1,243,337,001.34; MTN allegedly owe N943,889,454.61 while Nokia allegedly owe N272,209,514.
Ahmed Abu, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee via a letter dated 5th October, 2017 directed the telecommunications companies to reconcile figures quoted in the committee’s report with consultants/auditors at a location within Abuja on or before Friday 20th October, 2017.

According to two of the letters with reference No: NASS/HAA/081/09/17, dated 19th September 2017, MTN allegedly owe N943,889,454.61 while ZTE Nigeria Limited allegedly owe N530,504,927.86.
“It is pertinent to restate that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the House of Representatives await the report of the Ad Hoc committee to enable them take important decisions. Consequently you are requested to contact consultants /auditors and reconcile the figures with them on or before 20th October 2017, at Solomon Lar Way, Utako Abuja. Kindly be informed that if at the close of business on the 20th October 2017, the committees does not hear from you, the report will become the final report and the amount will become due and
payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

BusinessDay however gathered that some telecommunication companies in protest, questioned the Ad-hoc committee’s legal right to direct them to a third party after investigations had been concluded.

Prior to the last invitation sent by the Adhoc Committee, representatives of all the telecom operators and vendors were directed to reconcile the over N5 billion quoted in its interim report as taxes
payable to the government with its consultants.

The aggrieved operators and vendors who frowned at the modalities engaged by the Adhoc Committee, declined from attending the last investigative public hearing as well as the directive issued by the Chairman of the Adhoc Committee.
They specifically queried the rationale behind the purported reconciliation of tax discrepancies with a private firm outside the National Assembly complex.
One of the telecoms’ operators who spoke under condition of anonymity, argued that his company refused to reconcile tax figures with the consultants engaged by the Ad-hoc Committee due to skepticism about the legality and appropriateness of the action.
He also observed that the Ad-hoc Committee ‎ought submit the report to the House at plenary and rather than engage consultants to achieve fraudulent aims.

“This is suspicious, we appeared before the Ad-hoc committee during the investigation, surprisingly, the committee after concluding its investigation directed us to meets with its consultants outside the National Assembly to reconcile figures. We do not feel this is right and we don’t want to be accused of trying to manipulate the system. The committee should come-up with its recommendations and we shall be ready to present our position, even in the court of law. We are not in any tax evading business,” he said.

 

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja

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