The Senate says it is probing the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and StarTimes Joint Venture Agreement over the non-profitability of the venture which had been in existence since 2008.
Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning, Sen. Solomon Adeola, said this in Abuja, during an interactive session with some revenue generating agencies of government.
The upper chamber had, on Monday, queried the management of NTA, over 12 years of non-profitable venture with StarTimes.
The Senate asked that the management should appear before the committee along with the Managing Director, NTA TV Enterprises, Maxwell Loko. The joint venture agreement was that whatever accrued at the end of every financial year, 70 per cent, goes to StarTimes and 30 per cent to Nigeria. Adeola queried why some of the accounts of StarTimes were in dollars and naira. He queried that if the business is truly owned in Nigeria as it is being professed, then the account should only be in naira value adding that it has been structured to be in dollars and naira for easy movement of dollars outside the country.
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Adeola said In 2019, the total revenue for subscription hit 36.1 million dollars and in naira terms, it is over N11 billion.
The chairman further called for the stepping aside of the Managing Director, NTA TV Enterprises, chief executive officer of StarTimes and the director of tax, for an independent investigation.
Also speaking, the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Sen. Olubunmi Adetumbi, called for a forensic audit of the process saying that the situation and transaction were highly complex and beyond the public hearing to unravel, given the time and the nature of transactions.
A member of the committee, Sen. Yusuf Yusuf (APC-Taraba) said: “Whatever way we look at it, this thing is actually a messy situation. He claimed that NTA signed agreement which is a venture to form Star TV and then to be overlooked by TV enterprises but wondered why 30 percent is not TV enterprises if you look at the shareholding.
When he said the NTA staffs involved were merely working for Startimes, the managing director, NTA TV Enterprises Maxwell Loko disagreed by saying, “I don’t work for them, I don’t manage the company.We have a chief executive officer, I do not manage StarTimes, that is the truth. I do not manage StarTimes, I do not work for them. It will interest the committee to know that, it was indeed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) that introduced StarTimes communication of China to NTA.”
Loko explained that NBC granted the company licence from August 2011 to 2016 in the first instance.