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NCC N1.4tn fine: New minister makes case for MTN



The Minister for Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu has made a case for telecommunications company, MTN Nigeria which was slammed with a whopping $5.2 billion (about N1.4 trillion) fine by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards.

The new minister told Reuters in an interview, that Nigeria does not want MTN to quit the country suggesting the mobile phone company may have found a sympathetic ear in its bid to reduce the penalty.

The deadline for payment falls on Monday with little clarity as to whether the South Africa-listed company can, or
will, pay the fine.

“A judgment has been given, as it were, and the period for enforcement has not yet passed,” Adebayo Shittu, who was sworn in as communications minister this week said.

The fine – if fully enforced – amounts to more than the past two years of profit for MTN in its biggest market, but Shittu said it should not jeopardise the company’s future in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.
“Nobody wants MTN to die. Nobody wants MTN to shut down,” he said.

Nigeria accounts for 37 percent of revenues for MTN, which operates in more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Since the announcement of the fine, its shares have lost nearly 25 percent of their value.

Read also: N1.4tn fine: MTN CEO resigns

Shittu who stressed that the ball remained in MTN’s court, however said “nothing before me” when asked to comment on the progress of the talk.

“If any new thing would happen, there must be initiative from concerned quarters,” he said. “It is up to MTN.”

When asked about the consequences of non-payment, Shittu said the law would be followed. He did not give details but insisted: “We don’t want them to leave.”

Speaking to Reuters about his plans for the sector, Shittu said he thought telecoms was key to helping President Muhammadu Buhari’s goal of diversifying the economy away from oil, adding, that the sector provided a quicker avenue for new growth than agriculture, another sector the government wants to expand.

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