MTN Denies Owing N458m Taxes As Ondo Govt Shuts Facilities

In spite of MTN Nigeria denial over owing Ondo State Government about N458 million in taxes and levies, the state has shut down its facilities thus leading to poor quality of service (QoS) to telecom subscribers.
MTN states that the closure of its facilities by the state government will negatively impact the quality of service in the state and environs and affect millions of subscribers. Some of the services that will be impacted are voice and data services, voice traffic across other operators and international traffic.
 Others are enterprise data service to third-party clients (mostly banks and other corporate clients), which may in turn impact services such as ATMs, POS and others. This will lead to poor or total loss of network coverage for all MTN subscribers in Ondo.
 MTN said the sealing of facilities means that service providers will not be able to carry out routine maintenance work or refuel the generators servicing the base transceiver stations (BTS’). In addition, a major hub site for both fibre and microwave transmission which connects the North, South and East will be affected leading to loss of services in the whole of Ekiti State as well as parts of Edo and Niger States.
MTN corporate services executive, Amina Oyagbola said that since December 23, 2015, the eve of the national public holidays leading to the Eid El Maulud and Christmas celebrations, officials of the Ondo State government had proceeded to seal MTN’s BTS’ and other facilities in the state.
The closure followed an Ex-Parte court order taken against MTN regarding a tax claim of N458,585,783.12 allegedly owed the Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue Service (OSBIRS) in Pay As You Earn (PAYE); Withholding Tax (WHT); Development levy, Business Premises and Education Endowment taxes.
Oyagbola said MTN has fulfilled all its statutory obligations with respect to PAYE, Withholding Tax and Development levy, amongst others, contrary to OSBIRS’ claim. “MTN has also provided all the relevant assistance through direct engagement, meetings and production of documentation (including third party contracts) which were availed to the Internal Revenue Board and its consultants.
“It would appear that the Board is seeking to impute liability of third party contractors on MTN based on its “best judgment” assessment and MTN has clarified that it is not liable for third party service providers who are corporate legal entities” she said.
Oyagbola confirmed that in the course of the visitation of the government officials, facilities including franchise stores owned by third parties were also sealed pursuant to an ex-parte court order dated December 7, 2015 which was enforced on December 23, 2015.
Speaking further, she stated that following the action in court instituted by the State government, MTN was duty bound to file relevant processes in addition to instituting an action at the Tax Appeal Tribunal. She however refrained from commenting on the matter.
 Sher said “In view of the pendency of the matter before the courts, I am unable to comment on same. We are however particularly concerned about the impact on our customers, the good people of Ondo State and other States, who will not be able to enjoy good services on both their voice calls and data as a result of this action.” She made a special appeal to the relevant authorities to enable and support telecoms companies to ‎operate and render good services to customers.

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