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Telcos owe FG N143Bn in taxes — Reps



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House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on communication equipment and service companies/vendors in Nigeria has begun investigations into allegations that some telecom firms owe the nation N143 billion in unpaid taxes.

 Ahmed Abu, chairman of the committee, disclosed that the committee is assessing the tax compliance status and remittance of statutory contributions to relevant government agencies by telecommunication service providers.

 “So far, we have 24 companies (reportedly owing) and we have a total of N143.434 billion,” he said.

 He also disclosed that auditors were still looking at the books of others including vendors and lottery operators operating under the platform of telcos.

 Mr. Abu said the committee plans to meet with the companies, so that they can defend themselves and reconcile these figures with the committee.

 “When you say tax evasion, it is criminal in nature (and) tax avoidance is legal. So, what we are trying to do here is simple; to strengthen our laws.

 “There is nothing wrong if you try to avoid tax, it means there are loopholes in our laws. And what we do is to strengthen these laws and make them better for the benefit of the industry and the benefit of the country,” he said.

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 The chairman said the total figure was “interim and needed to be reconciled”, and he called on other companies to come forward to enable the committee get “a more accurate picture.”

 “Between today and tomorrow, we hope that some of you (company representatives) who have not come forward to provide further documents to reconcile these figures, I am pleading with you to come forward, bring documents at your disposal which we don’t have and reconcile these figures so that we can move forward”, he said.