Auditor General indicts MTN over evasion of Customs duty since 2021
The Office of the Auditor General of Federation has indicted the telecom giant, MTN, over evasion of payment of Customs duties since 2021.
Speaking at the resumed hearing of the investigations on queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation against the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) of the Federal Government, the Chairman of the committee Hon Oluwole Oluwole Oke, lamented the level of external borrowings by the federal government, saying that the committee’s probe of public funds was aimed at curtailing revenue leakages to boost government treasury.
His statement was coming against the backdrop of tax evasion by the telecom service provider, MTN whose current assets stand at N2.68 trillion in the country, yet does not have proof of customs duty over the years.
Following the failure of the MTN representative to tender the relevant documents to buttress his position that the company was up to date, the committee resolved to write the Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) to furnish it with relevant documents, including MTN duty permit so as to ascertain the total amount it owes government since 2001.
Hon Oke, therefore, directed the Clerk of the Committee to write to the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service on the financial indebtedness of the firm to the federal government.
AFCFTA, WCO sign MoU to enhance trade in Africa
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at operationalising the tariff schedules and ensuring additional free and efficient movement of goods in Africa.
The MoU, which was signed in Brussels, Belgium, on February 15, 2022, by the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene and the Secretary-General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, is expected to strengthen the organisational capacity, transparency and effectiveness of African Customs administrations sustainably, through cooperation between both organisations.
The shared goal of both organisations remains to enhance continental trade by eradicating trade barriers through connecting Customs systems, populating the AfCFTA Tariff Book and providing capacity building for Customs officials and administration.
Mene said that “The MoU will improve the partnership between the WCO to and the AfCFTA in ensuring that Customs Administrations are fully equipped to implement the AfCFTA Agreement.”
He further said that good progress has been made since the establishment of the AfCFTA Secretariat, saying that one major milestone is the ratification of Rules of Origin for 87.7 percent of tariff headings agreed upon by 41 of its 54 Member States.
Mene noted that the expectations were high and that communities were eager to start trading under the new Agreement. He acknowledged the WCO’s expertise and role in delivering capacity building in highly-technical areas which were key for implementing the Agreement.
On his part, Dr. Mikuriya highlighted the areas where the WCO could contribute, including customs technical matters such as the Harmonised System, Valuation and Origin, as well as automation, risk management and trade facilitation which will yield economic benefits to the African continent.
He reaffirmed WCO’s commitment to contribute to the regional integration efforts in Africa through customs modernisation.
AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area since the formulation of the World Trade Organisation.
WCO is the only intergovernmental organisation focused uniquely on customs matters.
The MoU is expected to strengthen the organisational capacity, transparency and effectiveness of African Customs administrations sustainably, through cooperation between both organisations.
NNPC, MRS engage in blame game over importation of toxic fuel
Investigation revealed that Duke Oil is a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), acting as the government agency’s trading arm, which makes the firm the only importer of PMS into Nigeria.
The company was established about 32 years ago during the administration of Gen Ibrahim Babangida, with a registered designation of Sociedad Anonima, which means Anonymous Society.
Sociedad Anonima implies that shareholders of Duke Oil are largely unknown or secret, and its registered base is in Panama, a Central American country known for providing safe haven to money launderers.
Stakeholders have however queried why a government agency such as NNPC should be running a sole trading arm that is operating out of a money laundering country with secret shareholders.
After the importation of the contaminated fuel, it was gathered that OVH, MRS, NIPCO, ARDOVA and TOTAL received the contaminated fuel from NNPC, after landing in Apapa between the 24th and 30th of January, 2022.
Sources claimed the adulterated fuel was bought by Duke Oil from the international trader, Litasco, and it has 20% methanol, an illegal substance in Nigeria after it was delivered with Motor Tanker (MT) Nord Gainer.
“Following delivery into the tank, it was observed that the product appeared hazy and dark,” MRS claimed.
“As a Company, we are aware that alcohol/ethanol is not permitted to be mixed in PMS specification.” The oil and gas company wrote in the filing at the Exchange on Wednesday.
MRS said it has now halted further sales of fuel from its retailing stations and awaits NNPC’s decision on replacing the contaminated fuel.
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