Financial Experts Fault Senate on $13.9b Allegation Call it “Witch-hunt”

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(Last Updated On: 2016-11-15)

Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen

A Financial Management Consultant, Mr. Bisi Ogunwale and Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje of the Lagos Business School have described the recent allegation by the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly accusing MTN Nigeria of illegally repatriating about $13.9billion as a mere ‘witch-hunt’.

Ogunwale who spoke on on a popular TV Continental “Business Nigeria” show monitored by Authentic Platform News Nigeria, said that the investigation by the Senate is in bad faith and not too good for Nigeria’s economy especially at a time the nation is looking for ways of diversifying her income beyond oil. “…I do not think we are speaking the right words to the investment world… It does not look as we are serious to attract foreign investment.”

Another commentator who was on the TV programme, Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje of Lagos Business School, spoke on the programme described the issue as a procedural argument that should have been investigated through appropriate quarters without creating unnecessary drama. Agbaje explained that professional and diplomatic methods are critical in solving matters in a mutually beneficial relationship as this.

He said: “It does appear MTN actually imported capital into Nigeria and it seems it (the problem) is all about MTN remitting its profit out of Nigeria from the portion of the profit due to its parent company in South Africa. That on the basis of common sense and regulations will not be an illegal activity”.

According to Agbaje frustrating a firm that has invested over $16billion into an economy, paid over N1.8 trillion to Government in the form of license fees, taxes, levies, right of way and others, employed over half a million Nigerians and contributed as much as 3.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) may portend a negative picture to other willing investors in the Nigerian economy.

Ogunwale in his closing remark said; globally, Foreign Direct Investments are motivated by the opportunities and enabling environment which the host country provides.

He noted that the accusations against MTN Nigeria were not solid enough as the repatriation of profits from funds invested in an economy didn’t appear to contravene the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council act and CBN’s regulation in any way.

He advised government to examine effectiveness of its regulatory agencies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) as well as other necessary parties. What exactly is the Senate out to achieve and why are they doing what they are doing? I’ve looked at everything they brought forward and the issue that MTN did not get CCI before repatriating money. What funds are we talking about, MTN’s claims they were repatriating funds that were meant to be profit or dividends being paid on importation of capitals they have done. I don’t see anything wrong in what they have done. For me I think it is just a witch hunt.”

Nigerian economy is faced with the worst business outlook since last year due recession where companies have continued to retrench staffs and several business owners both indigenous and multinationals moving their operations out of the country due to scarce foreign exchange.

The trend may continue as the international crude price keeps dropping on a daily basis to as low as $17 per barrel. So, it is only reasonable for government is this kind of situation to protect investment and boost investors confidence.

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