On trust between the private sector and the Federal Government, the Minister stated that private sector confidence in the Nigerian government was growing.
Uche Usim, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said that the Federal Government would remain focused on enforcing regulations needed to strengthen the economy, especially as big corporations have shown tendency to take them for granted. The Minister made the remarks on Tuesday at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit, while responding to a question on the recent $8.1 billion sanction slammed MTN Nigeria Communications Limited by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over alleged illegal funds repatriation.
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According to her, some of the positions of government in certain matters are taken for granted by big businesses, noting that investors don’t take regulators for granted but work within the ambits of the law.
She said: “The MTN incident was a very damaging one for us and that was one of the reasons we have been out trying to engage our investors. But you see there is a tendency for big businesses to take regulation and government for granted.
“Only after that incident happened, that all of the information that the CBN had been trying to get for months actually came out. Now, I think they are up to a point where they have almost resolved the problem.
“And this is information that the CBN governor had personally met with MTN, with the major banks involved and had asked them to provide some information.
“It was an audit that took place over the course of two and half years and the auditors were not satisfied with some of the information.
“They queried and asked for additional information. Unfortunately, this was negative for us but it’s now being sorted out and we are bearing the cost. We have been engaging with investors and trying to explain what happened,” the Minister explained.
On whether the government has plans to sanction other firms in similar manner, Ahmed said it was working hard to seal all loopholes so that such infractions would not occur in future.
“We are trying to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. We are continuously discussing with the regulatory authorities and there will be no company next after MTN involved in such issues. Nobody is next because we just can’t afford this kind of incidence happening again.”
On the level of trust between the private sector and the Federal Government, the Minister stated that private sector confidence in the Nigerian government was growing.
She said, “When you see a situation where the private sector elects to build a major road and depends on government to grant tax credit for it in the future, when the government floats a fund and you see private sector investors coming in to invest in the floated fund, it is a sign of comfort with what government is doing.
“It is also a sign of confidence in government. Confidence has been building up gradually and it speaks well about the government.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria recently sanctioned MTN and four commercial banks in the country, asking the telecommunications giant to refund $8 billion for allegedly using irregular certificates of capital importation (CCIs) for the transactions.