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Reps to Probe FG Over MTN N2.6trn Tax Evasion Claims

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MTN Nigeria Earnings

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives has said it would probe further claims of the N2.6 trillion capital allowances granted to MTN by the federal government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

This was disclosed by the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Oluwole Oke, at the resumed investigative hearing into the audit queries on tax evasion issued by the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (oAuGF) on Tuesday.

He disclosed that the oAuGF report indicated that the documents relating to the N2.6 trillion capital allowances were allegedly forged.

While stressing that the committee invited MTN over tax evasion, Mr Oke explained that the oAuGF, in its report, observed that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) accorded value to the telecoms company while in some cases without certificates and evidence of capital allowance issued by Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry, reflecting the whole assets procured by the company.

“We have issues in this country where funds are not adequate for government to carry out policies and programmes, which is why we had to borrow even though there are massive revenue leakages,” he said.

“MTN has also made appearances where N2.6 trillion was seen as the taxable value for assets of the company and we asked as to where they exist and who verified them because they had already claimed value for them with the FIRS,” he added.

The lawmaker maintained that Nigerians have the right to know the implications of MTN taking a certificate of N2.6 trillion to FIRS for tax waivers on the economy.

“The parliament simply wants to know whether it should sustain the query raised by the Auditor General or absolve the company of the allegations of tax evasion, as it would be wrong to accuse it of such if these records tally with the company’s submission,” he explained.

“The issue says that we should speak to facts and law. You’re here when we asked the Industry Ministry and they said both the local and foreign contents were the certificates they issued to you. However, the Auditor-General says such issuance appears to have been falsified which was the basis of its query to you,” the lawmaker further stated.

In her response, MTN’s General Manager, Mrs Yemisi Adeleye, explained that the company has submitted all relevant documents issued by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry reflecting the value of N2.6 trillion given to it.

While responding to questions on the 2016 inspection relating to the capital allowances granted to the company, Mrs Adebayo observed that the company made claims to the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry at the end of the year prompting them to choose a location and inspect, as it was physically impossible for them to inspect thousands of assets across the country.

Hence, the Ministry, based on their selection using supporting documents granted the allowances.

She said what the company had in 2016 was the automated card record bearing Ins and Outs of the team leader, one Mr Ike.

When asked how many people were on the team with Ike who had the access card and inspected assets from March 29 to April 4, she said she couldn’t remember the identities of the Ministry officials as the team members were not captured individually in the record.

She said what they presented to the FIRS was what their security team gave to them.

When asked again if the Ministry wrote the company informing it of the inspection date and the list of team members or just by words of mouth, Mrs Adebayo said that the Ministry formally communicated to that effect.

Also asked how many assets they inspected within the five days, she said she could not recall.

She argued that the most expensive of the company’s infrastructure were warehoused in their switches located in Ojota in Lagos, Port Harcourt, among other places.

While giving details on the claims made by the company for capital allowance, she disclosed that the sum of N18,967,410,769 was claimed in 2016, adding that in 2017, a logbook was brought back, reading Abuja switch with Ike and three others as inspection team members.

According to her, a total of N148 billion capital allowance was granted to the company, while N210 billion was approved in 2018 after the visit to the Ojota switch, as well as N190,629,586,000 in 2019 following a visit to the Port Harcourt switch.

When asked if all the assets procured by the company in 2019 were all located at the Port Harcourt switch, she responded in the negative, adding that in 2020, the Ministry officials visited the Abuja switch, another team visited the Ojota switch, while another visited Port Harcourt and granted capital allowance worth N219,540,623,545.

When asked if she would agree to give out a value of N219 billion based on one inspection that visited just three locations out of over a thousand locations, she said the company only filed what was approved by the inspection team with the FIRS for consideration.

Mr Oke, in his remarks, reiterated the lawmakers’ resolve to ascertain the patriotic and professional involvement of the Ministry officials, saying that they cannot fold their arms and watch when people whose salaries and allowances were appropriated to do a job failed to carry out their duties under the law.

To this end, the committee resolved that all the officials involved in the inspection from the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry should be made to appear before it.

It also requested the tax records covering the periods under review from both MTN and FIRS for further legislative scrutiny.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

Hyde Energy Advocates Ways to Reduce Cost of LPG

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Domestic LPG

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria’s leading energy trading company, Hyde Energy, has proffered strong recommendations for making Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) affordable and available in Nigeria.

This was discussed at the just-concluded 2nd West Africa LPG Expo & NLPGA Summit 2022 held in Lagos themed Energizing the Future: LPG as a Sustainable Fuel in African Economies as part of efforts to address the sector’s need for significant investments in infrastructure.

The conference, which has continued to gather momentum in Nigeria, is a platform for industry players to engage both indigenous and international stakeholders to attain insight into the LPG market and network with more than 3,000 delegates across the value chain.

The first day of the two-day conference featured a panel discussion where the Chief Executive of Hyde Energy, Mr Oladimeji Edwards, encouraged more collaboration amongst relevant stakeholders in the industry to develop necessary measures that can improve infrastructural development in the sector to reduce the cost of LPG and increase supply.

“To reduce the cost of LPG, it is very important to build infrastructure to a captive market, to take it from truck to skid, to dispensing unit, all the way down to the cylinders, and ultimately at some point, the next generation will reticulate as part of standard code for construction at which point in time, we would have had ample supply of LPG distribution across the country,” he said.

He further revealed that for infrastructural development to come into place, there is a need for all hands to be on deck and show the will to make it happen.

Mr Edwards stated that Nigeria has tremendous gas deposits but there is an inadequate infrastructure around gas resources.

“To reduce imports, adequate investment is required. Gas suppliers are importing LPG, paying in US Dollars, and due to inflation and devaluation this affects retail prices, but with good infrastructure, I assure you that we will have an enabling environment for investment to thrive and everyone will be happy,” he advocated.

Mr Edwards commended the effort of the NLPGA to bring together industry stakeholders to share ideas on contentious topics and share strategies to help Nigeria’s LPG market unlock its incredible potential saying, “this is a brilliant platform for relevant stakeholders in the industry. It is a great event which brings in international and indigenous experts to exchange ideas, opinions, trends and outlook for the future.”

Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing LPG markets in the world with more than 20 per cent average growth per annum for the past 10 years. In 2020, Nigeria recorded a national LPG consumption of 89.91 thousand MT (PPPRA, 2020), with a positive variance of 7.9 per cent above the targeted estimated figure.

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Economy

NASD OTC Securities Exchange Opens Week 0.81% Lower

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unlisted securities exchange

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange opened the week in the negative territory following a 0.81 per cent drop on Monday, June 27.

At the session, the bourse, which admits unlisted securities, recorded a poor outcome following losses reported by three companies — FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, and Food Concepts Plc.

FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc saw its equity drop N2.96 or 3.09 per cent to N98.76 per unit from N95.80 per unit, CSCS Plc lost 42 Kobo or 2.84 per cent to close the day at N14.38 per share as against N14.80 per share of the preceding session, while Food Concepts Plc went down by 5 Kobo or 5.00 per cent to 95 Kobo per unit from N1.00 per unit.

As a result, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) dropped 6.21 points to settle at 762.06 points versus last Friday’s 768.27 points as the market capitalisation went south by N8.18 billion to N1.003 trillion from N1.011 trillion.

At the market yesterday, there was a jump in the units of securities exchanged by investors to 647,785 units from 323,519 units, implying a 100.5 per cent increase.

The value of securities traded amounted to N5.6 million, 37.6 per cent lower than the N8.9 million achieved at the previous trading day, while the number of trades depreciated by 27.27 per cent to eight deals from 11 deals.

AG Mortgage Bank Plc finished the trading session as the busiest stock by volume on a year-to-date basis with the sale of 2.3 billion units worth N1.2 billion, CSCS Plc also retained the second spot with the sale of 674.3 million units valued at N14.1 billion, while Food Concepts Plc was in third place for trading 146.5 million units valued at N127.2 million.

When the coin is flipped to the other side, CSCS Plc maintained its position as the most active stock by value on a year-to-date basis with a turnover of 674.3 million units valued at N14.1 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with 10.9 million units worth N3.2 billion, while FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc retained the third place with the sale of 9.7 million units valued at N1.2 billion.

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Economy

Naira Now N617/$ at Peer-to-Peer, N605/$1 at Parallel Market

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Nigerian Naira

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira appreciated by N1 or 0.16 per cent against the United States Dollar at the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) window of the foreign exchange (FX) market on Monday to close at N624/$1 compared with last Friday’s N618/$1.

At the parallel market, according to data harvested by Business Post from the various traders of forex on the streets of Lagos, the Nigerian currency was exchanged against its American counterpart at N605/$1.

At the interbank market, the local currency appreciated against the Pound Sterling by 20 kobo to trade at N509.82/£1 versus the preceding session’s N510.02/£1 but against the Euro, it lost N1.89 to sell for N439.49/€1 compared with last session’s value of N437.60/€1.

Also, at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment, which is the official market, the Naira recorded a 0.21 per cent or 88 kobo loss against the American Dollar as it was sold at N421/$1 in contrast to last Friday’s N420.12/$1.

The domestic currency was weakened despite a $10.02 million or 6.1 per cent slide in the turnover for the trading day as forex worth $152.96 million exchanged hands compared with the $162.98 million recorded in the preceding session.

Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market saw the value of TerraClassicUSD (USTC) rising by 33.0 per cent yesterday to $0.0191 as other digital coins monitored by this newspaper struggled for life.

Dogecoin (DOGE) depreciated by 7.2 per cent to trade at $0.0695, Solana (SOL) recorded a 6.4 per cent slide to sell at $37.38, Ripple (XRP) went down by 6.0 per cent to trade at $0.3429, while Litecoin (LTC) followed with a 5.9 per cent depreciation to quote at $54.41.

Further, Cardano (ADA) slumped by 3.8 per cent to settle at $0.4798, Ethereum (ETH) suffered a 3.6 per cent loss to trade at $1,174.74, Bitcoin (BTC) recorded a 2.3 per cent retreat to sell at $20,642.92, Binance Coin (BNB) declined by 1.7 per cent to finish at $232.0, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) moderated by 0.05 per cent to sell for $0.999.

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