The Nigerian government has slammed South African telecoms giant, MTN Group, with a $2 billion tax demand.
The new tax bill incurred by the telecom firm over the last decade comes amid controversies generated by the government’s directive to MTN to hand over $8.1 billion it accused the firm of illegally sending abroad with the collusion of four banks.
MTN said it had been in talks with Nigeria’s Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, over concerns around tax compliance; but it was billed all the same.
The company in a statement said it was billed for importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers, all spread across a period of about ten years.
“In this process, his (the Attorney-General’s) office made a high-level calculation that MTN Nigeria should have paid approximately $2.0 billion in taxes relating to the importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers over the last 10 years,” MTN said.
The firm added, however, that its total payment of around $700 million over the 10-year period fully settled the amount owed under the taxes in question.
Reuters reports Tuesday that shares in the telecom firm dropped 5.6 per cent to 81.95 rand as at noon, bringing losses since last week to nearly 25 per cent. Last Thursday, the telecom firm was issued $8.1 billion demand over concerns around repatriation of funds.
The latest demands come two years after Africa’s biggest telecoms company agreed to pay more than $1 billion to end a dispute with Nigeria over unregistered SIM cards.
MTN, in its reaction, described the latest demands by Nigerian authorities as “regrettable and disconcerting”.
The company said it will “continue to engage with the relevant authorities on all these matters, and we remain resolute that MTN Nigeria has not committed any offences and will vigorously defend its position.”
Internet users in Nigeria increased marginally to 103.6 million in July, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.
The NCC disclosed this on Wednesday in its Monthly Internet Subscribers Data for July posted on its website.
According to the data, Airtel, MTN and Globacom gained more internet subscribers during the month under review while 9mobile was the biggest loser.
The data also showed that overall internet users increased to 103,671,778 in July from 102,805,122 in June, showing an increase of 866,656.
The breakdown also revealed that Globacom gained the most with 574,821 new internet users, increasing its subscription in July to 27,146,075, up from 26,571,254 in June.
It further showed that 9mobile lost 218,086 internet users in July, decreasing its subscription to 10,367,260, as against June when it recorded 10,585,346.
NCC indicated that MTN also gained 134,171 new users in the month under review, increasing its subscription to 39,071,670, in July as against 38,937,473 in June
It said that Airtel gained 375,754 new internet users in July, totalling 27,086,773 as against 26,711,049 in June.