MTN Nigeria has expressed grave concern over the arbitrary shutdown of its base transmitting facilities by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS), over allegations that it has not met its tax obligations to the government.
The state government is demanding for immediate payment of social service contribution levy, employee development levy and annual rent for Right-of-Way (RoW) on fibre optics cable.
MTN’s Corporate Relations Executive, Tobechukwu Okigbo, said the Taxes and Levies Act which introduces the Social Service Contribution and Economic Development levies mandates the Joint Tax Board (JTB) to recommend chargeable fees which will be subject to the Minister of Finance’s approval.
He said:“To the best of our knowledge, the Minister of Finance’s recommendation as provided in the Act is yet to be issued, and as such, it is unclear if the imposition of the fee by the Kogi State government is on solid legal footing. As a responsible corporate citizen, we accord the highest priority to our sub-national tax commitments. We wish to state that we have met in full all our tax obligations to the Kogi State government and are not in arrears.
“On request, we have furnished the KGIRS on multiple occasions with documentary evidence proving our full compliance with extant state laws on the matter. At this stage, the demands of the KGIRS, if honoured, amounts to multiple taxation and the arbitrary shut down of our base transceiver stations and harassment of our partners will stand in the way of a reasonable resolution.”
MTN regrets the disruption of services to its customers in Kogi and some neighbouring states and remains fully committed to working with the Kogi State government and the relevant regulatory authorities in reaching a timely and lasting solution.
Zainab Ahmed: States Put Pressure on us to Spend all the Money Instead of Saving in ECA
Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, says representatives of states often put pressure on the federal government to spend all the income realised when some could be set aside in the excess crude account.
The minister made this known on Friday while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group.
“The ECA is an account where we put our savings from excess crude sales,” she said.
“We are supposed to be making these savings as a matter of routine but over the years we have not been able to do that.
“But we will try to start saving in the ECA routinely.
“The NSIA is supposed to be funded from the ECA but unfortunately because the build-up is very slow, we have only increased our investment in the NSIA periodically.
“So we want to change that to make it as a matter of routine that every FAAC once we pass a certain threshold, we save.
“We need the cooperation of the states as well because often times we see the states putting pressure, that they want all the funds to be used for the running of their states.”
The excess crude account is supposed to hold funds when oil prices are sold above the budget benchmark.
Abebe Selassie, head of the African department at IMF, had described Nigeria’s excess crude account as one of the worst managed sovereign wealth funds in the world.
In 2016, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, had said that there was no political will to save during her second term as finance minister.
“In my second time as a finance minister, from 2011 to 2015, we had the instrument, we had the means, we had done it before, but zero political will,” she said.
“So we were not able to save when we should have. That is why you find that Nigeria is now in the situation it is in. Along with so many other countries.”
We Are Recruiting, NNPC Confirms
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it has opened its portal for recruitment of fresh graduates and experienced professionals into the system.
Mr Ndu Ughamadu, its Group General Manager, (Public Affairs Division), confirmed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that the portal for the recruitment was opened on Wednesday.
The recruitment portal address is https:/careers.nnpcgroup.com.
“The portal was opened today and I have received hundreds of inquiries weather it is correct or not.
“We are going to recruit people from different engineering fields , especially fresh graduates and equally in the administrative areas,” he said
Ughamadu said that recruitment would be in three categories of fresh graduates, senior officers/ supervisory cadre and managerial cadre.
Huawei Goes On A Charm Offensive
Chinese telecom giant Huawei insisted on Wednesday its products feature no security “backdoors” for the government, as the normally secretive company gave foreign media a peek inside its state-of-the-art facilities.
Huawei has kicked off the year with an aggressive PR campaign to counter US warnings that it could be used by Beijing for espionage and sabotage, with reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei denying the fears in a series of foreign media interviews.
The charm offensive went into another gear Wednesday as Huawei welcomed news organisations to its facilities in southern Guangdong province.
That included a stop at Huawei’s Independent Cyber Security Laboratory, whose director Wang Jin waved off the US fears.
“Our most basic red line is that our products cannot have any backdoors,” Wang said.
Journalists also toured a huge factory floor with 35 highly automated assembly lines in the city of Dongguan, where an array of robotic arms put together a Huawei P20 smartphone every 28.5 seconds.
Foreign journalist visits are hardly routine at Huawei’s facilities in Guangdong, where high-tech labs and manufacturing facilities employ more than 60,000 people, but these are unusual times for the company.
The United States says Huawei equipment could be manipulated by China’s Communist government to spy on other countries and disrupt critical communications.
Washington is urging governments to shun the company just as the world readies for the advent of ultra-fast 5G telecommunications, an advancement that Huawei was expected to lead and which will allow wide adoption of next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence.
Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, Ren’s daughter, also faces a court hearing on Wednesday in Vancouver on a US extradition request. Two Canadians have been detained in China in suspected retaliation over her arrest.
During the tour, journalists were served coffee in cups featuring an image of a lighthouse and the words: “Lighting a beacon for Wanzhou’s early return.”
The US Justice Department accuses Huawei and Meng of circumventing US sanctions against Iran. Two affiliates also have been charged with stealing trade secrets from telecommunications group T-Mobile.
Christopher Balding, a China expert at Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City, said Huawei’s sudden PR outreach shows its concern over the US stance, but that the company shouldn’t suffer too much damage.
“They should be able to ride this out,” Balding told AFP.
“It’s not realistic to expect the entire world to shun Huawei and that probably wouldn’t be good anyway.”
Founded by Ren in 1987, Huawei has espoused a relentless “wolf” ethos that executives say fuelled its rise to become the world leader in telecom network hardware.
It remains to be seen how the new charm offensive will play out, but the wolf may already smell blood.
After intense recent lobbying by Huawei, reports have suggested Britain and New Zealand may walk back earlier indications that the company would be frozen out of their telecom plans.
At the world’s top mobile industry fair in Spain last week, Huawei bagged 5G commercial contracts or partnership agreements with 10 telecom operators — including Switzerland’s Sunrise, Iceland’s Nova, Saudi Arabia’s STC and Turkey’s Turkcell.
On Thursday, Huawei Chairman Guo Ping will hold a news conference at the Shenzhen headquarters that may be the real reason for the media tour’s timing.
The New York Times on Monday cited anonymous sources saying Huawei this week will announce plans to sue the US government for barring American federal agencies from using the company’s products.
The topic of the news conference has not been disclosed, but a big announcement would allow Huawei to seize back the narrative from Meng’s extradition hearing.
Huawei declined to comment publicly on the Times report.
Opening its sprawling grounds also is a chance for Huawei to show that it is a global player not to be trifled with.
Its Shenzhen headquarters — near Dongguan — has cutting-edge laboratories, hotels, swimming pools and fitness centres, a dozen cafeterias, and a Huawei University where it trains staff as well as foreign customers and partners.
Huawei strenuously denies any connections to China’s government.
Sceptics, however, say it is highly unlikely that Ren, a former Chinese army engineer, could have steered his company to such heights in such a strategic sector without the support of Beijing, which has clearly stated its goal of becoming the world’s high-tech leader.
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