Reps threaten arrest warrant against telecom chiefs for ignoring summon

Akeem Bello-Osagie


• Quiz lottery commission over revenue sharing formula
• Senate begins debate on 2018 budget proposal next week

The House of Representatives ad-hoc panel has threatened to issue an arrest warrant against some telecommunications firm chiefs who failed to appear before it to answer charges relating to their operations.

At the investigation of operational activities of the firms, service providers and vendors yesterday, some stakeholders refused to turn up, prompting the panel chairman, Ahmed Abu, to threaten Chairman of the defunct Etisalat Nigeria, Akeem Bello-Osagie and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Airtel Nigeria with warrant of arrest.

Abu said the panel had invited Bello-Osagie and the Airtel CEO on several occasions to answer questions on alleged tax evasion by the then Etisalat and Airtel but that they refused to honour the invitations.

He said that the attitude of the duo was unacceptable and that if they fail to appear on a yet-to-be announced date, an arrest warrant would be issued against them.

The committee chairman, who also berated the officials of 9Mobile for the absence of their CEO, said the panel would invoke relevant constitutional provisions in dealing with the organisations involved.

Besides, the committee has quizzed Nigeria Lottery Commission (NLC) for what it termed unclear revenue sharing formula between Mobile Network Operators and Value-Added Service (VAS)/Digital content and Mobile-based lottery.

Its Director-General, Lanre Gbajabiamila, said while approximately 295 licensed Value-Added Service (VAS) providers have generated about N80 billion revenues across the four operators within the past four years, Mobile Telecommunications Nigeria (MTN) alone was grossing about 50 per cent of the entire revenue.

He said that the sharing formula should now be 60-40 in favour of the VAS providers.In another development, the Senate has said that it will begin debate on the general principles of the 2018 budget proposal of N8.612 trillion next week Wednesday and Thursday, November 22 and 23, 2017.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement during plenary, said: “Distinguished colleagues, debate on the general principles of the 2018 budget has been slated for Wednesday and Thursday next week.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday last week presented to the joint session of the National Assembly the budget profile and asked for quick consideration and passage to enable the country reverse to the conventional yearly fiscal calendar of January to December.

Also, he said that the N8.612 trillion budget profile was about 16 per cent increase on the N7.44 trillion 2017 budget.In his words: “Out of aggregate expenditure of N8.612 trillion proposed as 2018 budget profile, N2.014 trillion is set aside for debt servicing aside N2.005 trillion deficit in the budget to be financed by external borrowing and proceeds from privatised government establishments.”

Other highlights are N3.494 trillion earmarked for recurrent expenditure, N2.652 trillion for capital expenditure and N456 billion for statutory transfer.These budgetary proposals were predicated on key parameters such as $45 per barrel oil price benchmark, projected oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day, exchange rate of N305 to a U.S. dollar, Real GDP growth of 3.5 per cent; and inflation rate of 12.4 per cent.

It was further stated that N11.983 trillion was estimated to be the total collectible revenues for the federation in the fiscal year out of which N6.387 trillion was being expected to be realised from oil and gas sources, while total receipts from the non-oil sector are projected at N 5.597 trillion.

The President pointed out that the total estimated revenue for the Federal Government in the projected N8.612 trillion 2018 budget was N6.607 trillion, which according to him, was about 30 per cent more than the 2017 target.



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