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MTN Fine Sending Wrong Signals to Investors – Ben Bruce

Kingsley Kanayo

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Ben Bruce, on Wednesday described the recent $5.2bn fine imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission as the most damaging action ever taken against Nigeria’s drive towards Foreign Direct Investment.

Bruce, in a statement in Abuja, explained that the MTN was not without fault and that its actions and inactions were deserving of a strong rebuke from our authorities.

However, the extent of the fine by the NCC was such that it sends a very wrong signal to foreign investors and could give them the impression that Nigeria was in a desperate financial situation due to the sudden drop in crude oil prices and wants to get alternative revenue by any means necessary.

He said, “As a patriotic Nigerian I know this is not true. However, I know that perception is also reality. Foreign investors in Nigeria currently feel vulnerable and those contemplating investing in Nigeria are putting such plans on hold as their boards and management pause to take in the consequence of what just happened to MTN Nigeria.

“Many pundits point to the drop in the value of MTN shares in their home country and the temporary suspension in trading of such shares by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

“What is perhaps going unnoticed is that the action of the Nigerian Communications Commission has also caused a negative ripple effect on the shares of other foreign investors operating in Nigeria even though they have not flouted any of our laws and regulations.

“In the long run, the move hurts Nigeria more than it hurts MTN and may be described as cutting our nose in order to spite our face.”

Bruce therefore called on the Federal Government to immediately and publicly take steps to remedy the situation and restore investor confidence in Nigeria by resolving the impasse with tact and with a view to our long term financial interests rather than  immediate interests.

 

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