By Joan Nwagwu
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged communication giant, MTN Nigeria to comply with the directive of the Federal Government to pay the over $10 billion tax arrears and illegal repatriation.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC president, made the call in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Specifically, he said the NLC will advice MTN to comply, without further delay, the directive of the Federal Government to pay $2 billion in tax arrears.
“This is as well as the $8.13 billion 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,” he said.
Wabba noted that government’s tax reforms have been skewed in favour of corporate organisations, anfd as such there was no reason for them to default.
He added that every taxable person is expected to pay his or her tax as and when due.
Wabba said: ”If companies default, with what is government expected to run the country or conduct its business?
”In our view, this incident does not only directly test the Thabo Mbeki Report on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, it is also a major crime against the government and people of Nigeria.
”On our part, we are, however, not surprised by the unethical conduct of MTN.
”They are not only engaged in the exploitation of Nigerian workers and turning them into slaves, but have extended their frontiers to unwholesome economic exploitation and sabotage.
”The questions on every lips are: How many times has MTN done this? How many other companies are doing this?”
He stated that through the Tax Justice Campaign, labour had relentlessly and assiduously drew the attention of the government and Nigerians to the humongous crime against the vulnerable people of Africa, especially Nigeria.
He noted that over 70 million people in Africa are said to be the poorest in the world.
”Government should use this opportunity to send an appropriate message to everyone, especially corporate organisations who often pay taxes in the breach.
”Coupled with this, government’s tax reforms will only make meaning if they are judiciously executed.
”We feel vindicated by the latest discovery, while offering an explanation for picketing MTN offices across the country in July this year, we highlighted labour laws, local content law and security breaches by MTN.
”We exposed other acts of impunity by MTN, in spite of the fact that 60 per cent of its global income comes from Nigeria,” he said.
He urged critical government agencies to closely look into the operations of the company, especially in light of the Thabo Mbeki Report.