Groups protest alleged tax evasion by MTN, others
• We are tax compliant, MTN insists
Three groups, Action Aid, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for all (CSACEFA) and Tax Justice Network, yesterday, stormed the Abuja operational Office of MTN demanding payment of tax owed to the Federal Government.
The groups staged the protest, as part of activities to commemorate the Global Action week on Education.
They demanded that cooperate organisations pay their taxes so as to reduce the number of children that are out of school and also develop other sectors of the economy.
According to them, MTN has reportedly been evading tax payment in Nigeria, using transfer pricing. This involves making payments to two overseas companies located in tax asylums; MTN Dubai and MTN International in Mauritius, claiming the dubious activities has been going on since 2010.
They carried placards saying, “tax pays for education, stop tax dodging,” “Join the global movement for tax justice and ask your leaders to deliver quality public education.” The placards further read, “ActionAid Nigeria believes tax is the best way to sustainably fund education, Education with harmful tax treaties don’t add, up turn down harmful tax treaties.”
Deputy Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Ifeoma Monwuba, in the company of Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND, Binta Garba, led the protesters to MTN office.
“We understand that MTN, among some other cooperate organisations in the country have been evading tax and some have been using legal aid to back up their claim.”
They urged them to pay their taxes, so that “government can have enough money to fund our education and develop other sector of the economy.” Regional Manager, Northern Operations, Kunle Adebiyi while addressing the protesters refuted the claim that MTN was evading tax.
He said MTN was totally compliant with tax payment, adding it is also number 1, when it comes to tax payments either at the federal or state level.
He said “MTN is extremely compliant, , totally compliant to the issue of tax payment, I think we should be number 1 when it comes to issue of tax payment either at the federal or state level”
He reiterated that MTN has won prizes from government for paying taxes, adding that they have been educating firms on the need to pay taxes so as to enable government provide basic infrastructures for the citizenry.
He said “if firms pay taxes, government would not be looking for money, so we are going to join in the campaign to encourage cooperate organisations to pay taxes.
According to Adebiyi, the company does not use any legal means to avoid tax payment as they comply by the law and follow stipulated actions.
The Senate Committee chairman had while addressing a press conference earlier, disclosed that report has shown that Nigeria loose $2.9billion to tax incentives and waivers, despite the fact that 10.5million Nigerian children are out of school.
Garba stressed that “We must fund our children’s futures, through having a fair tax system, a tax system that is not hampered by restrictive tax treaties or unfair incentives and waivers.”
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