Airtel Niger, the local wireless unit of Indian telecoms firm Bharti Airtel, has been ordered by the government of Niger to close its offices in the West African country because of a tax dispute. The Economic Times reports that Airtel has been ordered to pay over USD107 million in back taxes, although the telco has disputed the claim. Last week Airtel’s competitor, French-owned Orange, said it had been ordered to pay XOF22 billion (USD37.9 million) in taxes, or face the closure of its offices. Airtel said it is ‘committed to a collaborative dialogue with the Niger government to resolve the issue and has requested the country’s tax authorities to review the issues in depth to reach a mutually acceptable solution,’ with the statement adding that the firm ‘remains hopeful of an early, amicable resolution to this unfortunate situation in the interest of its over 4.4 million customers, over 500 direct and indirect employees and over 50,000 retail shops & outlets.’
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