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page 18 N780bn fine: MTN pays N50bn, withdraws case against FG …We are yet to receive payment – NCC By Zakariyya Adaramola and Nahimah Ajikanle…

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N780bn fine: MTN pays N50bn, withdraws case against FG

…We are yet to receive payment – NCC

By Zakariyya Adaramola and Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen, Lagos

MTN Nigeria has withdrawn a suit it brought against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the N1.4trillion fine slammed on it last year by the telecoms industry regulator.

The South African telco also said in a statement yesterday it had already paid N50bn out of the fine(which later reduced to N780bn), but NCC said yesterday it had yet to receive any money from the telco.

In the statement sent out to journalists by its PR and Protocol Manager Funso Aina, MTN said it took the latest step in response to a request by the Nigerian authorities that for any negotiation to continue it must first withdraw the case and pay part of the money.

… “MTN Nigeria has paid N50 Billion to the Federal Government as a gesture of good faith and commitment to continued efforts towards an amicable resolution”, MTN said.

The statement quoted the MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdi Moolman, as saying, “This is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome”.

The NCC had imposed a N1.04 Trillion fine on MTN Nigeria in October 2015, for its failure to disconnect 5.1 Million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.

Subsequently the fine was adjusted by 25% to N780 Billion, an amount that was considered inimical to the survival of the telco’s business.

But NCC’s Director of Public Affairs Mr Tony Ojobo told Daily Trust in a phone interview yesterday that the government has yet to receive any payment from MTN Nigeria.

“I have called the relevant departments and they told me we have yet to receive any payment from MTN. Also, we have not got any court paper on the purported case withdrawal. So, we are not aware of their payment and case withdrawal. When we receive them, we shall inform the public”, Ojobo said.

IMF wants FG to lift forex restriction, devalue naira

By Hamisu Muhammad

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recommended for Nigerian government to lift foreign exchange ban placed on some imported items and allow the naira to reflect market forces.

The local currency naira has been facing pressure in the recent time due to the global fall in the crude oil price. As at last week the naira lost about 40 of its value against the dollar but rebound back this week at the parallel market.

Already, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria have kicked against official devaluation of the naira as a measure to prevent worsening the economic crisis in the country.

“As part of a credible package of policies, the exchange rate should be allowed to reflect market forces more and restrictions on access to foreign exchange removed, while improving the functioning of the interbank foreign exchange market (IFEM).” The IMF said in the end-of-mission statement released yesterday.

IMF further said eliminating existing macroeconomic imbalances and achieving sustained private sector-led growth requires a renewed focus on ensuring the competitiveness of the economy.

According to the fund, it will be important for the regulatory and supervisory frameworks to ensure a strong and resilient financial sector that can support private sector investment across production segments (including SMEs) at reasonable financing costs. Staff is supportive of the authorities’ ongoing efforts to promote targeted and core infrastructure (in power, integrated transport network, housing); reduce business environment costs through greater transparency and accountability, promote employment of youth and female populations.

The report said “With oil prices expected to remain low for a long time, continuing risk aversion by international investors, and downside risks in the global economy, the outlook remains challenging. The authorities’ policy response has focused on seeking to support growth, while preserving international reserves. The draft 2016 budget envisaged, appropriately, a significant shift in the composition of fiscal spending toward capital investment while increasing the allocation for a social safety net. At the same time the CBN has eased monetary conditions.

“In light of the significant macroeconomic adjustment that is needed to address the permanent terms-of-trade shock, it will be important to put in place an integrated package of policies centered around: (i) fiscal discipline; (ii) reducing external imbalances; (iii) further improving efficiency of the banking sector; and (iv) fostering strong implementation of structural reforms that will enhance competitiveness and foster inclusive growth.”it added.

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