Reps to involve EFCC over telcos’ failure to remit over N200b tax to govt

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THE Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information Communication Technology (ICT), Lado Abdullahi, on Monday decried the failure of telecommunication companies (telcos) to remit over N200 billion tax to Federal Government’s coffers since 2007.

He said the House would involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the non-remittance of one per cent annual turnover of each telco to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an agency of the Federal Government.

Abdullahi, who spoke on phone with our reporter, said his committee was given one month to investigate the matter and report back to the House.

The lawmaker said the House would ensure that the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the nation’s telecoms sector account for their failure to remit “just one per cent of their annual turnover to NITDA for several years since the Act became effective in 2007”.

A source at the NITDA said the “Telecoms sector owes NITDA over N200 billion, which continues to make Nigeria lose a verifiable source of generation of revenue, thus making development in the sector to be slow or hampered”.

The committee’s probe followed a motion sponsored by a member from Ukwa East/West Federal Constituency, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, in December, 2019.  Abdullahi said: “The committee has not started work because the motion was moved during our last session before we went on recess and we have not resumed.

“So, when we resume, we will be able to investigate the matter. What is there is that hopefully, by January 20, the committee will take off. But we are writing a letter to them to furnish the secretariat with vital information about their annual turnover, starting form 2007, when the NITDA Act was enacted, till date.

“We want to know when last they released their turnover to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from 2007 till date…”

“And we also need to know whether the FIRS too gets information from them. The FIRS will also provide us with the turnover of each of the service providers from 2007 till date.

“Then the Attorney-General, Accountant-General and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will furnish us with useful information we need to do our job.

“The process ought to have been that once the FIRS collects the money, it makes it known to the Accountant-General, who will release same to the Ministry of Finance and then to NITDA

“The NITDA Act says telecoms providers should remit one per cent of their annual turnover to NITDA, which it would use to install infrastructure. But majority of them are defaulting because they have not been paying this money. So, that’s why the House has asked us to investigate the matter and prosecuting whoever that is involved.

“We are involving the Attorney-General, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Department of State Services (DSS) and the EFCC.

“And anybody (CEO) coming there to make presentation has to be on oath. All the Chief Executive Officers will be summoned before the National Assembly to resolve the issue and the Attorney-General too will do the investigation and prosecute them, accordingly,” Abdullahi added.

The house had in December, 2019 directed the Abdullahi-led committee to investigate the collection and remittance of 1% levy on behalf of the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITDF).

This followed the adoption of a Motion of urgent public importance moved by Uzoma Nkem-Abonta on the need to investigate payment and remittances of taxes accruable to the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITDF) established by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Act 2007.

The NITDA Act was enacted in 2007 which created a frame work for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.

Section 12 of the Act established the fund known as the “National Information Technology Development Fund” into which a levy of one per cent of the profit before tax of companies and enterprises enumerated in the Third Schedule to the Act, with an annual turnover of N100,000,000 and above is to be paid into.

The taxable companies include the Globacom and Airtel who have only paid for four years while 9mobile hasn’t pay at all.  (The Nation)

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