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Lagos, other states to stop using tax collection consultants

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Governors of the 36 states of the federation say they have resolved to stop giving the job of collecting taxes to consultants.

They noted that the huge commission being paid out to such contractors would increase the states’ internally generated revenues.

Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is also the governor of Ekiti State, said on Monday that this was part of the planned review of the policy on revenue collection by states.

The reform, he added, was being considered to boost the financial outlook at the sub-national level.

Fayemi, at the sixth Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) National Peer Learning Event in Abuja, also listed other reforms being planned by the states.

He said, “Other reforms being implemented by state governments under the SFTAS programme and as detailed in the “COVID-19 Response for Tax Authorities” issued by the NGF secretariat and endorsed by us at the forum earlier this year include: ending the contracting-out of tax collections and assessments.”

Another resolve of the governors, according to him, is to increase collaboration among the internal revenue service, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), and local governments; roll-out of tax-for-service initiatives; scale-up of cashless payments; and the deployment of a Geographic Information System (GIS) to support effective land administration and property taxes.

This year, he added, had presented the states with a perfect storm of difficulties to deal with, from a health pandemic to the second economic recession in five years.

He explained that at the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum worked with the Federal Government, international partners and the private sector to deliver the necessary response needed to contain the virus and ease out its impact on the lives of the citizens.

These, he said, included the set-up of intervention funds, roll-out of social investment programmes, distribution of palliatives, initiation of tax incentive programmes to protect and support livelihoods and businesses.

“Unfortunately, the decline in oil prices that followed the global lockdown and the social unrest, which echoed the demands of the #EndSARS protests, further worsened the country’s economic and social conditions for months. This exacerbated the already vulnerable fiscal environment for governments at both the national and sub-national level.

“Other accompanying trends have included rising inflation rate, degrading exchange rate and growing unemployment,” he added.

Fayemi said the governors worked together to reflate the economy.

The 2020 half-year year-on-year IGR performance, he said, reported a negative growth of 11.7 per cent for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said despite the overall decline, some states recorded positive growth, adding that three states in this category are Ebonyi, Gombe and Yobe, which recorded more than 50 per cent in growth.

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Tesla driverless car explodes after crashing into tree

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Two men have died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston, authorities said.

After the fire was extinguished, authorities located two occupants in the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat and the other in the back seat of the Tesla

The accident came amid growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent accidents.

The US auto safety agency said in March it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles.

“There was no-one in the driver’s seat,” Sergeant Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.

The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.

Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in January that he expected huge profits from the company’s full self-driving software, saying he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year”.

Experts say the self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.

-Reuters

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We resisted governors’ pressure to borrow for March shortfall – Zainab Ahmed

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government rejection a suggestion by state governors to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to augment the N50 billion federation account allocation committee (FAAC) shortfall in March.

She stated this on Monday while featuring on the Good Morning Nigeria programme, a daily breakfast show on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Recall that Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki had alleged that the FG printed N60 billion to support March federal allocation to states.

But the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, dismissed Obaseki’s claim describing it as “unfortunate and totally inappropriate.”

Ahmed said that whenever there was a reduction in federal allocation, the Federal Government would take money from some reserve accounts, adding however that in the case of March allocation which fell short by N50 billion, all state governments were asked to manage their resources.

“It is a difficult time, I can explain to you how difficult it is not just for the Federal Government but also for the states, we see increasing reduction in our FAAC revenue,” she said.

The minister also said, “In the month of March, we had a shortfall of FAAC that is almost about N50 billion and we did not have enough accrued in any of those accounts, the states to be honest wanted us to borrow from the Central Bank, but we resisted, we just told everybody to go back to live within what they had.

“So it was very surprising for us when we heard a sitting governor saying that the CBN had printed money for FAAC; that was very unfortunate because it is not true.”

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Mercedes-Benz stuns with another seven-seater crossover SUV

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A few days after Mercedes-Benz revealed what it calls the mother of all electric vehicles in the form of the sophisticated EQS luxury sedan, it has added another stunning product to the Mercedes-EQ family of cars, the EQB.

This is a seven-seater, crossover sport utility vehicle that is to the GLB-class what the EQA is to the GLA.

Car and Driver in a report quotes the premium German automaker as saying the EQB is based on the GLB crossover.

Mercedes-Benz EQ is a series of battery electric vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz. The first model was previewed at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 with the Generation EQ concept vehicle.

The EQB will be launched first in China, where it debuts in a luxuriously equipped all-wheel-drive version with AMG Line styling.

Europe is to have it next in three versions: front- and all-wheel-drive models and a range-optimizing mid-level EQB.

The new vehicle will however not be released to the US market until next year.

While the sheet metal and glass are identical, the styling department under Gorden Wagener has cleaned up the exterior for a more contemporary and sophisticated look.

The front is graced by the trademark EQ headlight/fascia assembly, with a horizontal light bar stretching over the entire width.

This element is reflected on the tail end, which boasts a horizontal light strip as well.

There are EQ-specific colours and wheels, and there will be a choice of regular or AMG-Line front and rear bumpers.

The interior is carried over from the GLB as well, but it comes with EQ-exclusive color and trim options, including rose gold (pictured here), one of Wagener’s favorite colors.

Due to the battery packs in the floor, interior space suffers a bit: Daimler cautions that the third row will only work for people up to 5’5″ and the trunk shrinks considerably.

That said, the EQB is still a crossover SUV that offers more space than usual for its exterior dimensions.

The EQB was unveiled in China, and it will be launched there first as a fully loaded model with a standard AMG Line look, all-wheel drive, and two motors that make a combined 288 horsepower.

Europe will get both the EQB350 4Matic with around 268 horsepower and the front-wheel-drive EQB250 with 221 horsepower; there will also be a mid-level version designed as a long-range model. Both China and Europe will see the EQB at dealers within the 2021 calendar year.

The US will have to wait until 2022, and the company is mum about the possible powertrain options.

Car and Driver says, “What we can deduce from our experience with the EQA is that even the least powerful versions of the EQB will come in at around 4500 pounds, which we hope won’t translate into plodding, cumbersome handling characteristics, even if that would feel a bit less out of place in a people hauler like the EQB than in a compact hatch like the EQA.

“There will be no true AMG version, unlike on the EQS and the EQE. However, we’ll suspend judgment until we can drive it.”

 

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