The Transmission Company of Nigeria says it is consistent on its remittance of tax due to the Federal Government through the Federal Inland Revenue Services.
The Managing Director, TCN, Usman Mohammed, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Thursday.
Mohammed was reacting to the temporarily seal up of TCN’s office by FIRS over alleged non payment of legacy tax.
The managing director also provided clarification on recent protest by members of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies against management of TCN.
He told NAN that the seal up of TCN premises some days ago by FIRS over the alleged non remittance of N30 billion legacy tax was uncalled for as effort was ongoing to reconcile the figures.
He said: “I can tell you as the MD of TCN, I don’t know why FIRS did what they did because every payment that we do we remit tax as and when due.
“If FIRS does not receive the money, then it is a reconciliatory issue, then they should check their remittal may be there is a problem of remittal.
“But the good thing is that we are talking, reconciling the account.
“Some time last year it was presented to me that there was an assessment done by FIRS claiming that TCN was owing N30 billion as legacy tax, but you have to understand one thing.
“When the government unbundled Power Holding Company of Nigeria into 18 successor companies, 11 Distribution Companies and six Generation Companies were privatised.
“TCN is the only government agency that was not privatised and part of the reform that was done was the establishment of Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company to take over the legacy liabilities which include legacy pension and tax liabilities.
“TCN’s own liabilities were not taken, the reason was at that time there were a rush to complete privatisation of DisCos and the GenCos.
“So they decided that since TCN was not going to be sold their liability could be handled latter.
“ I can tell you that Manitoba never pushed for the talking over of the liability of TCN until I came and last year I wrote to the government and government ask NEMLCO to meet with us.
“So we set up a committee on taking over the successor liabilities which include the tax liability that FIRS was talking of now.
“Did FIRS give us a letter to say that they want to lock up this place. No? and this place is an essential services department at least you should give notice.
“When I came last year I wrote FIRS that we have hired consultant for the reconciliation of the legacy tax liabilities and incidentally the consultants are people who have worked in FIRS.
“Two former coordinators and former Directors of compliance, they are tax experts.
“So the consultants have also written to FIRS that they are consultants of TCN, so it baffles me what was the motive of coming to lock the place when dialogue has not been concluded.
“To the best of my knowledge, the only tax element that is certain between us and FIRS which they agreed is the N250 million, which was the withholding tax, which we could not pay because we could not ascertain who are the beneficiaries.
“When they came and did reconciliation with our staff, to ascertain an account of N140 million, it was paid immediately, but all other taxes they are talking about is still under question.”
According to him, it is not something that has been established, apart from the legacy liability.
He said: “The other tax they are alleging is that they are calculating their tax based on our revenue; of course, tax is supposed to be paid based on revenue.
“But the peculiar situation of the power sector is completely different, out of the total revenue of TCN, what we can get is between 30 and 40 per cent; the DisCos give us.”
Mohammed said he was brought from African Development Bank to salvage TCN given the deteriorated nature of the company under the former managers.
He alleged that for the four years that Manitoba was manager of TCN, it was never audited.
According to him, it was due to his intervention that the agency was able to audit TCN from 2012 to 2014, and then 2015 and 2016, we are now auditing 2017 and PWC is the auditor of TCN.
He said: “If we have not completed the audit, we will not be able to raise the money that we raised from all the donor agencies, because they would not have provided money for an organisation that have not showed some level of transparency.
“The only reason why TCN is sustained and we are able to do what we are doing is because we have patriotic staff, engineers who are completing the jobs that were formally given to contractors at less than 10 per cent cost.”
On protest by SSAEAC and over alleged highhandedness and other allegations against TCN management, he said: “You have seen me, I not highhandedness, I am somebody that believe in doing the right thing”.
He added: “And if you want to bend me, I will not listen to you, and this is the characteristic that made the government to request for me.
“For good three years Nigeria was paying Manitoba 25 million dollars to manage TCN and Manitoba scattered this place and we were asked to come to fix the place.
“I will not compromise my transparency measures, and I have not come here to play or to joke. I accepted this job because of the character of Mr. President.”
He said the National President of SSAEAC, and TCN staff had been involved in divisive activities and at loggerheads with management over issues of not being appointed general manager for Lagos office.
He said: “When he realised that the position of the general manager of Lagos was becoming vacant, they wrote me that I have to make him the general manager of Lagos.
“But I said no because general manager of lagos is a very sensitive position because 30 and 35 per cent of our transformer capacity is in Lagos and we cannot just put any body there.
“We have to conduct interview and we interviewed them and they were six in number. The first person that emerged first was posted there.
“We, however, created another office, General Manager, Material Control in Lagos and posted him there, because he said the national office of the union is in Lagos.
“But, he later accused me falsely and the TCN branch of the association countered him.
“He singlehandedly suspended the union’s branch chairman, which wrote to complain about him for allegedly misappropriating their funds and check-off dues. TCN, then, we decided to write labour ministry and also stop transfer of their check-off dues.
“He also invited the state security services against one of his colleagues and we issued a query to him and that was why he organised a protest.
“None of them that protested is a staff of TCN; it was even the TCN staff that confronted them.”
Mohammed said the TCN chapter of the union was also not in support of the activities of the national chairman, affirming that pictorial evidence of the protest showed that the protesters were rented crowd.