House to Probe Eti­salat’s Exit

DPR in­dicts CBN, NPDC over rev­enue loses

THISDAY - - NEWS EXTRA - James Emejo in­Abuja

Chair­man, House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ad-hoc Com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing the op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions’ equip­ment and ser­vice com­pa­nies/ven­dors in Nige­ria, Hon. Ahmed Abu (APC, Niger), has said in­ves­ti­ga­tions will be ex­tended to de­ter­mine rea­sons why Eti­salat Group ex­ited the Nige­rian mar­ket in a rather ab­surd man­ner.

Not­ing that com­pa­nies “can’t just walk in and walk out just like” any­where in the world, he said Eti­salat’s exit could set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try if some­thing was not done.

He told THISDAY in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day that for­mer Chair­man of Eti­salat Nige­ria, Mr. Ha­keem Bello Osagie, has been in­vited to give ev­i­dence be­fore the com­mit­tee, along­side other telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions chief ex­ec­u­tives at its re­sumed hear­ing today.

The com­mit­tee is prob­ing al­leged N143 bil­lion tax in­va­sion by tele­coms firms which have been ac­cused of em­ploy­ing de­layed tac­tics to dodge cur­rent rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ef­forts.

Abu had mulled serv­ing bench war­rants against the chief ex­ec­u­tives of ma­jor mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies over their fail­ure to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee to de­fend the al­le­ga­tions.

Mean­while, the Depart­ment of Petroleum Re­sources (DPR) yes­ter­day said the Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria (CBN) de­ter­mined the rate at which roy­al­ties paid in dol­lars are con­vert­ed­totheir­nairae­quiv­a­lent­be­fore re­mit­tance into the fed­er­a­tion ac­count.

Speak­ing dur­ing an in­ter­face with the House Ad­hoc Com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing rev­enue leak­ages in the oil and gas sec­tor from Jan­uary 2016 to Jan­uary, 2017 which is chaired by Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (PDP, Cross River) DPR of Head Planning, Mrs. Fo­lasade Odunuga, urged the com­mit­tee to pres­sure the Nige­ria Na­tional Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion (NNPC) on why its sub­sidiary, the Na­tional Petroleum De­vel­op­ment Com­pany (NPDC), has re­fused to pay roy­al­ties on its crude pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

She also said: “NPDC re­mains the worst debtor in the oil and gas in­dus­try.”Ac­cord­ing to some of the re­ceipts made avail­able to the law­mak­ers, the re­mit­ted amount (in naira) into the fed­er­a­tion ac­count fell short of its dol­lar value us­ing cur­rent ex­change rates, prompt­ing law­mak­ers to ques­tion the trans­ac­tion which could have been un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the DPR.

It was ob­served that the CBN had been con­vert­ing dol­lar re­mit­tances us­ing about N167 to $1 in­stead of the cur­rent N305 to $1.

Odunuga, how­ever in­formed the com­mit­tee that “roy­al­ties on crude oil are paid strictly in dol­lars di­rectly into the fed­er­a­tion ac­count in JP Mor­gan, man­aged by the CBN.”

She ex­plained that there are other roy­al­ties that come in both naira and dol­lars, adding that pay­ment in­voice is based on what cur­rency it was paid in.

The com­mit­tee fur­ther sought clar­i­fi­ca­tion on in­voices show­ing DPR con­vert­ing dol­lars into naira be­fore re­mit­tance to gov­ern­ment ac­counts. But the DPR of­fi­cials ex­plained that such is never done as the depart­ment doesn’t han­dle cash di­rectly.

She said: “Re­ceipts are al­ways writ­ten af­ter we get our state­ment of ac­count from the CBN. We do not re­ceive any money nor have any in­ter­face with any pay­ment. All pay­ments are made di­rectly to the fed­er­a­tion ac­count. It’s their obli­ga­tion to pay be­fore we eval­u­ate be­cause the law al­lows them to pay within 90 days.”

Asked why they don’t doubt what­ever the CBN gives to them, and if it has never oc­curred to the DPR that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was be­ing short changed by what the CBN al­legedly dis­closed as paid in naira com­po­nent, DPR di­rec­tor, Morde­cai Baba Ladan, said: “We’ve had a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the CBN over the years and we’ve not had any iota of doubt that what the CBN gave to us was in­ac­cu­rate. So to say that we go and do in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion as to the facts given to us by the CBN has never crossed our minds.”

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