2014 budget: Reps okay N54.4b for NCC

The unanimous passage of the communications regulator’s budget was sequel to a successful defence of the 2014 estimates before the committee at the National Assembly yesterday.

Members of the committee, expressed their satisfaction on the efforts of the NCC at improving the communication sector, and subsequently approved the amount.

Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, while presenting the budget earlier, told the committee that out of the N54.4 billion estimate, N14.8 billion was for recurrent expenditure, with capital and special expenditure having N15.8 billion, and that the sum of N8.4 billion would be transferred to the Universal Service Provision Fund.

According to him, N7.4 billion from spectrum fees and N8 billion operating surplus would be transferred to the Federation Account.

Some of the lawmakers however expressed reservations over the quality of GSM services across the country, and called for better regulation by the NCC in order to engender better service delivery by the providers.

But the NCC boss said the commission only monitors quality of service and sets out acceptable guidelines of operations for the service providers, and that they lack the powers to withdraw the licences.

His words: “Just two weeks ago, we fined three service providers, MTN, Airtel and Glo, N667 million for going against certain regulations. We also stopped them from carrying out any promo and taking new subscribers.

“We only regulate them in line with the laws we operate under. We’re the fastest growing market in Africa, so we’re doing a lot on quality service. That is why we’re asking for some money in the budget,” he said.

He further said that it would be difficult to withdraw the licences of erring service providers because in would cause a disjunction in the economy as communications currently accounts for 25 percent of the nation’s GDP as opposed to that of the banking sector which represents just 3 percent.

Juwah also said that service providers cannot be forced to go public by enlisting on the stock exchange as the country’s laws allow them to own the business a 100 percent.

“Nigeria is the only country where that is allowed,” he said, adding that it would require a new legislative framework to compel a change in the situation.

After the NCC presentation, the budget was passed after a voice vote was taken by the chairman of the committee, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo (APC, Ekiti).

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