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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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Railway

As Abuja-Kaduna train resumes, NRC gives passengers Nov 6 for unused tickets

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Train operations on the Abuja-Kaduna route resumed on Saturday, after they were suspended on Thursday following an attack that damaged the rail track.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation has given passengers with unused tickets two weekends ending on November to make use of the tickets or forfeit them.

Two reported attacks on Wednesday night and Thursday morning said to have been executed with the use of explosives led to damage on the rail track.

In one of the attacks, the window of the driver compartment of the train was reportedly shattered. This prompted the corporation to suspend the train ride along the route.

But the NRC restored the train services on Saturday after carrying out adequate repairs on the damaged track and beefing up security along the route.

On Saturday when train services resumed along the route, there was a report of low turnout of passengers.

Some of the passengers, who acknowledged improved armed security presence on the train and along the track said they could not use their pre-purchased tickets as the railway officials claimed they had no order to accept them.

A statement issued by the NRC later said customers would have two weeks (ending November 06) to use tickets for rides scheduled during the period operations were cancelled.

The corporation also asked affected customers to give 48-hour notice before their scheduled trips with the unused tickets.

The statement read in part, “Dear esteemed customers, service has been restored on the Abuja-Kaduna service.

“Customers with unused tickets for the 21st and 22nd of October should kindly contact the customer care unit (customercare@tps.ng and 01 888 7741) for rescheduling.

“Kindly give 48-hour notice ahead of new travel date. This offer is open for the next 2 weeks and will expire on the 6th of November, 2021. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience.”

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Abuja-Kaduna train resumes operation Saturday – NRC

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Barely 24 hours after suspending the Abuja-Kaduna trains for safety reasons, the Nigerian Railway Corporation says the services will resume Saturday October 23.

The suspension followed an explosion attack by hoodlums on the Abuja-Kaduna rail track Wednesday evening, which the corporation said affected the locomotive tank of a Kaduna-bound train.

Although there have been conflicting accounts of the attack with some attributing it to bandit or terrorist attack, the Managing Director of the corporation said in an interview on Friday night that the NRC team of engineers and technicians had fixed the problem and was certified that the train service could resume on the route after carrying out extensive an inspection of the line.

The NRC also said in a statement issued Friday evening that the Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) would “resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am.”

The statement read in part, “The board and management of the Nigerian railway corporation (NRC) hereby inform the general public, particularly our valued passengers that Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am. Subsequent train services continue.

“The NRC once again sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.”

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Motorists, travellers stranded as Delta bridge collapses

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There was confusion in part of Delta State on Friday following the collapse of the Umutu Bridge in the Ukwuani Local Government Area of the state, leaving several motorists and travellers on the Agbor-Abraka-Eku road stranded.

The incident reportedly occurred in the early hours of the day, adding that the aged long bridge gave way as a Trailer conveying heavy duty construction bulldozer was passing through it towards the Agbor axis of the state.

The deplorable condition of federal road has been on the news, with report of the road project already awarded for reconstruction by the federal government.

The road link many communities in the state and connect the people with other parts of the country, particularly Northern and South-East states.

Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Ochor Christopher Ochor who hails from the area, regretted that the federal government had not given such an important road the desired attention.

Ochor who spoke to our Correspondent, described the collapsed of the bridge as unfortunate and sympathized with stranded motorists and travelers for the pains it may have caused them.

He said he had already contacted the Commissioner for Work in charge of Urban and Highways roads in the State, Mr Neol Omodion, who has promised to take necessary steps to address the ugly situation.

Ochor however stressed the need to beef up security in the area to protect the lives and properties of the stranded travelers, calling on the federal government to reconstruct the road due to its strategic position  to the socio economic development of the area.

 

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