MTN NIGERIA TAX AND THE BURDEN OF BUILDING GLOBAL BRANDS IN NIGERIA
MTN Nigeria paid a tax of 757.6 billion naira to Nigerian government agencies in 2021. I mean one company paid a tax of 757.6 billion naira in this COVID-19 pandemic season. Meanwhile the total tax collected by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) – the Nigeria tax authority is 6.4 trillion naira. Specifically the company said it paid N618.7B in direct and indirect taxes to the FIRS in the 2021 tax year. This makes MTN Nigeria the largest single biggest contributor to taxes in Nigeria.
In don’t know how big or small that figure sounds in your ears. But let me give it a perspective. It means MTN Nigeria ALONE paid 13.5% of the total tax in a country with population of about 208 million.
In a statement by the company’s secretary, Uto Ukpanah, he said. “MTN Nigeria said its total tax contribution to all government agencies was 13.5% of FIRS’ total collection for the year”.
DESERVING AWARD FOR MTN NIGERIA AS THE MOST TA COMPLIANT ORGANISATION
This performance led to the telecom company been recognised as the most tax-compliant organisation in 2021. They also rank in the top 20 taxpayers in the nation at a National Tax Dialogue event by the FIRS.
The Chief Financial Officer, MTN, Modupe Kadri, who received the awards on behalf of MTN Nigeria expressed delight at the performance and recognition of MTN at the National Tax Dialogue event.
Speaking further, he said;
“While the past 24 months have been challenging for our country and nations worldwide, we are committed to supporting the Federal Government’s ongoing Economic Growth Recovery Plan.
“We will continue to invest heavily in network expansion with a focus on expanding access to under-served communities. We also plan to connect an additional 2,000 rural communities in 2022.”
FIRS CALLS FOR SUPPORT
The executive chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami, called for support for the tax system to make it function efficiently.
Speaking at the tax dialogue event, Mr Nami urged politicians to treat tax revenue generation as an apolitical issue.
While highlighting the nation’s revenue profile in 2021, which showed that the FIRS contributed a monthly average of 59.45% of revenue shared by FAAC, Mr Nami stated that it had become clear that the survival of the nation is dependent on tax revenue.
“All hands must be on deck to support the tax system and make it function efficiently,” he said.
“However, it is surprising that some people have begun to play politics with tax revenue generation. We humbly invite the President to step-in to dissuade political tax gladiators to sheath their swords. Tax revenue is an inherently apolitical issue; it should be treated as such by all, irrespective of their political leaning.”
The FIRS boss further highlighted how the agency was able to record an unprecedented feat in tax revenue generation in 2021, adding that it surpassed its target and collected N6.4 trillion, the highest collection ever in the history of the FIRS. And this they did despite the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE
If MTN Nigeria alone an pay a tax of over 600 billion naira in a single year just imagine what could have been if Nigeria is operation in its full potential. For proper context, according to Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) there are 3.1 million registered businesses in Nigeria. Just imagine if 0.01% of these companies has the capacity to each deliver just 10% of what MTN Nigeria is doing in terms of tax. Where do you think Nigeria’s economy could have been?
Experts have said that Nigeria is a country of $3 trillion GDP if operating at optimal productivity level as against the less than $500 billion it is now.
But sometimes it seems everything as it is currently working in Nigeria is for the purpose of hindering the growth of businesses into global status. Ranging from government policy, to infrastructural support, to easy of doing business to multiple taxation businesses are struggling to stay afloat.
We see companies shutting down and other leaving the country. Yet, there are huge gaps still waiting for innovators to fill for massive breakthrough. Massive opportunities lies ahead t build global brands in Nigeria. But the question remains: will the government provide the necessary support to make that possible?
If government can put aside politics and immediate gratification aside and support enterprises with sound policies a tax of less than one trillion naira will not be news in Nigeria in the nearest future. After all Elon Musk alone paid 11 billion dollars as tax in the same 2021.
OTHER COMPANIES RECOGNISED FOR THEIR TAX PERFORMANCE
Also recognised by FIRS at the tax dialogue event are other companies in the top 20 performing companies. Some of them includes Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, NOCACO, AIRTEL and CHEVRON.