The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, has said it remitted N51.3 billion to the federal government Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the first quarter of 2019.
The remittance, according to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, was in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 (FRA 2007).
NCC said in a statement that the payment represents 'payment on account' in respect of operating surplus of N44 billion and N7.3 billion spectrum assignment fee collected, both of which are due to the federal government as at April 30, 2019.
According to the FRA 2007, such payments were to be made every year after preparation of audited accounts.
Specifically, Section 22 Sub-section 1 of the Act states that: "Notwithstanding the provisions of any written law governing the corporation, each corporation shall establish a general reserve fund and shall allocate thereto at the end of each financial year one fifth of its operating surplus for the year."
Section 22, Sub-section 2 of the Act states further that: "The balance of the operating surplus shall be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federal government not later than one month following the statutory deadline for publishing each corporation's account."
Aside from remitting the operating surplus, Section 17 Sub-section 3 of the Nigerian Communication Act (NCA, 2003) also stipulates that spectrum assignment fees generated shall be remitted 100 per cent to the federal government.
The Section states that: "The commission shall pay all monies accruing from the sales of Spectrum under Part 1 of Chapter VIII into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF)."
Commenting further, Danbatta said the commission had taken the initiative to be making payments on account as it generates revenue.
Danbatta noted that through effective regulatory oversight by the commission, the telecommunications sector has witnessed phenomenal growth since 2001, making it an enabler of economic growth and development.
According to him, "The telecoms industry has positively impacted all the sectors of the economy including banking, healthcare, commerce, transportation, agriculture, education among others, with increased quarter-on-quarter contribution to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP)."
For instance, he said the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the telecoms industry contributed 10.11 per cent to Nigeria's GDP in the first quarter of 2019.
This represents a 0.92 per cent increase from the first quarter of the last year. This year's first quarter contribution is also 0.26 per cent more than the figure (9.85 per cent) recorded in the last quarter of 2018, the statement further said.
"From 2001 till date, telecoms investment has increased tremendously from $500 million to over $70 billion, just as the commission intensifies measures aimed at further facilitating investment growth in telecoms infrastructure to drive the economy, especially through the licenced Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos). We are also working with necessary stakeholders across all levels of government to address identified impediments to investment drive in the sector," Danbatta said.
The NCC boss, while providing latest data on the industry to underscore the impressive growth already recorded in the industry, said: "In the 21st century, access to pervasive broadband is a game changer for any economy.
"The commission has since placed greater emphasis on broadband development as the next frontier for economic growth by driving efficiency and innovations in Nigeria. Consequently, through painstaking implementation of our eight-point agenda with the need to facilitate broadband development topping the agenda, we have been able to increase broadband penetration to 33.13 per cent as at end of May 2019."