The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has vowed to ensure accountability on the capital allowances granted to MTN Nigeria by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment amounting to N2.6tn.
It has, therefore, summoned the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo.
The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Oluwole Oke, at the resumption of the investigative hearing on the audit queries on tax evasion issued by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, noted that the report indicated that the documents relating to the N2.6tn capital allowances were allegedly forged.
Oke, who also noted that the committee had invited MTN over alleged tax evasion, said OAuGF, in its report, observed that Federal Inland Revenue Service accorded value to the telecoms company, while in some cases without certificates and evidence of capital allowance issued by the ministry which reflects the entire assets procured by the company.
He said, “We have issues in this country where funds are not adequate for the government to carry out policies and programmes which is why we had to borrow even though there are massive revenue leakages.
“MTN has also made appearances, where N2.6tn was seen as the taxable value for assets of the company and we asked as to know where they exist and who verified them because they had already claimed value for them with the FIRS.”
Oke pointed out that Nigerians have a right to know the implications of MTN getting tax waivers of N2.6tn on the economy.
The chairman said, “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.
“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.”
MTN’s General Manager, Mrs Yemisi Adeleye, in her response, explained that the company had submitted all relevant documents issued by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry reflecting the value of N2.6tn given to the firm.
According to her, a total sum of N148bn capital allowance was granted to MTN, while N210bn was approved in 2018 after the visit to Ojota Switch as well as N190,629,586,000 in 2019 following visit to the Port Harcourt switch.
However, 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.
The committee also requested the tax records covering the periods under review from both MTN and FIRS for further legislative scrutiny.