The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday asked MTN Nigeria, to pay the $10.13 billion liability, comprising the recent $2 billion fine in tax arrears slammed on it as well as the $8.13 billion fine over alleged breach of foreign exchange (Forex) repatriation guidelines.
The Congress, in a statement signed by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, stated that the union felt vindicated by the latest discovery on the telecom operator’s regulatory infractions.
While explaining its picketing MTN offices in July this year, the organized labour group highlighted labour laws, local content law and security breaches by MTN which led to fatalities of security personnel in the North Easy conflict area.
Wabba recalled that the Congress had earlier exposed other acts of impunity by MTN, in spite of the fact that 60 percent of its global earnings derive from Nigeria.
He charged some government agencies such as NCC, EFCC, DSS, Immigration and the CBN to thoroughly investigate the operations of the company, especially in light of the Thabo Mbeki Report.
Wabba stated: We at the Nigeria Labour Congress hereby urge MTN Nigeria to comply without further delay the directive of the Federal Government to pay $2 billion in tax arrears as well as the $8.13 billion it was said to have illegally repatriated to South Africa over which four indigenous banks have been fined.
“We similarly urge the Federal Government to spare no effort in recovering this money as anything to the contrary will send wrong signals to other corporate organisations it had punished for lesser tax infractions.
“The need to enforce this order is all the more compelling when it is realised that workers pay taxes they can ill-afford but religiously pay all the same.
“It is also worth noting that government’s tax reforms have been skewed in favour of corporate organisations, there is no reason for a default. After all, every taxable person is expected to pay their tax as when due.
“If companies default, with what is government expected to run the country or conduct its business?”, the labour leader queried.
According to the NLC, this incident does not just directly testy to the Thabo Mbeki Report on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, it is a major crime against the government and people of Nigeria.
The labour group stated that it was not surprised by the alleged unethical conduct of the telecom operator, alleging further that the company is not only engaged in the exploitation of Nigerian workers and turning them into slaves but has extended its frontiers to unwholesome economic exploitation and sabotage.
The NLC leader stated further: “The questions on every ones lips are: How many times has MTN done this? How many other companies are doing this?
“In our Tax Justice Campaign, we relentlessly and assiduously drew the attention of government and the entire citizenry to this humongous crime against the vulnerable people of Africa, especially Nigeria, over 70 million of whom are said to be the poorest in the world.
“In our candid view, government should use this opportunity to send an appropriate message to everyone especially corporate organisations who often pay taxes in the breach”, Wabba added