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Banks, MTN dispute over USSD, airtime fees deepens

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There were strong indications last night that some commercial banks may have yanked off their USSD, airtime purchase, and other online services from MTN network due to the disagreement between the financial institutions and the telecommunication company on the amount to be charged.
THISDAY gathered that the bank Chief Executive Officers had at a recent meeting agreed to shut down purchase of MTN services across all their channels beginning from 11 pm last night until further notice.
Attempt by THISDAY to purchase airtime from GTBank last night showed that the commercial bank had removed MTN among the network its customers could purchase airtime from.
However, Fidelity Bank was still offering the service as of midnight.
A source close to the banks explained that the disagreement arose after MTN recently reduced the discount offered to banks on airtime sales from four per cent to 2.5 per cent, which did not go down well with banks considering the cost of managing the infrastructure and other operational costs they incurred.
A top bank official, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said other banks are expected to comply with the decision of their CEOs from today.
He disclosed that over 60 per cent of airtime vending by telcos presently were done electronically through the banks.
The CBN and the NCC, had in a recent communique issued at the end of a meeting to resolve the disagreement on USSD fee between the banks and telcos agree that with effect from March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at banks and all CBN- licensed institutions would be a flat rate of N6.98k per transaction.
This replaced the previous per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to ensure financial inclusion.
“To promote transparency, the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts. “Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for the use of USSD channel. “A settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services previously rendered by the MNOs is being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved,” the communiqué explained.

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N5bn Debt: AMCON Takes Over Mansions Of Ex-Gov Abdulfatah Ahmed

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The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken over some houses belonging to former Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed of Kwara State over a N5 billion debt.

The property is located at No. 9A Abdulrazaq Street, GRA, Ilorin.

Jude Nwazor, spokesman of AMCON, confirmed this to Daily Trust in a telephone chat.

He, however, said the debt was a personal one by the former governor.

Nwazor said all efforts to peacefully resolve the loan had been frustrated by the former governor which left AMCON no other choice than to seek justice in court.

In a statement, he later issued, Nwazor said, “AMCON had taken over the Non-Performing Loans of the former governor and his companies… from the former Intercontinental Bank, FinBank and Bank PHB during the first phase of EBA purchases, in line with its mandate under the AMCON Act.
“All efforts to peacefully resolve the loan had been frustrated by the former Governor who remained recalcitrant, which left AMCON no other choice than to seek justice in court.”

Ahmed, who succeeded former Senate President Bukola Saraki, governed Kwara between 2011 and 2019.

Currently, he is not holding any political office.

But some hours ago, he joined forces with some prominent Nigerians to establish a Third Force known as the Rescue Nigeria Project (RNP).

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Buhari Orders FIRS To Tax Digital Transactions

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President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the deployment of technology to tax all digital transactions carried out across the country.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha disclosed this at the 17th General Assembly and 10th anniversary of the West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) in Abuja Tuesday.

The assembly is a high-level policy dialogue on taxation of the digital economy, organised by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The SGF  said the President gave the order to tax authority to ensure digital transactions were taxed digitally,  and the goal of their efforts was to achieve seamless digital collection and remittance of tax revenue accrued from the digital economy.

He said the President had directed the deployment of technology to good effect in revenue collection and remittance as a matter of government policy.

The SGF said this is supported by the amendment to the tax laws and empowering the tax authority to deploy technology in tax.

Mustapha said: “Our definition of what to collect- whether we call it income tax, Digital Service Tax or Value Added Tax, must address the issue of redefining who a taxable person or entity is, to accommodate the fact that digital transactions side-track the ordinary and traditional understanding of jurisdiction.”

In his remarks, the Chairman of FIRS, Mr Mohammed Nami called for collaborative efforts among African states to generate income from digital-oriented businesses.

He said: “Tax regulators and other industry stakeholders must therefore rise up to the challenge of being in a position to tap into the stream of opportunity that advancements in science and technology afford us. Science and Technology is not only about rockets going to space, it is also about effective tax collection and we must maximize it in every possible way we can.”

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Buhari wants petroleum, finance ministers removed from NNPC board

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President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to remove the  ministers of Finance and Petroleum from the board of the soon-to-be incorporated board of the Nigerian  National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.)

The request is contained in his letter seeking an amendment to the recently enacted Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

He also asked the Senate to confirm appointments made for the boards of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and two other federal agencies.

These are the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority..

The President on Sunday named a nine-member board for the NNPC Ltd headed by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.

The President’s letter titled  “Forwarding administrative structure amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 was read to   Senators by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during yesterday’s plenary.

He listed three sections of the PIA that he wants to be amended as 11(2)(b) and 34(2)(b);  11(2)(f-g) and 34(2)(f-g);  as well as   11(3).

The President explained in the letter that amendments to the sections were needed to make for seamless administrative structure in the Act.

He also cited unbalanced geo-political representation as a reason for his request to remove the ministers of Finance and Petroleum from the NNPC Ltd. board.

A part of the letter reads, “I wish to forward to the Senate the attached Administrative Structure Amendments of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 for your kind consideration and approval.

“Having carefully reviewed the administrative structure of both the Commission and the Authority; I would like to propose the following amendments to the PIA 2021:

“Appointment of non-executive board members: The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.

“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country, therefore, I pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.

“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision-making of strategic institutions such as the oil industry.

“If this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six that is one person from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.

“Removal of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the two institutions:

The proposed amendment will increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 that is representing a 44 percent expansion of the board site.

“This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve he expected policy contributions.

“The two ministries already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations. They can continue to perform such roles without being on the board.

“It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be Directors – being the same rank with the Directors in the institution. This may bring some complications in some decision making especially on issues of staff-related matters.

“Appointment of Executive Directors: The Act has made provision for seven Departmental Heads in the Authority to be known as Executive Directors. Their appointment will also be subject to Senate confirmation. This category of officers is civil servants and not political appointees.

“The Senate is invited to note the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.

“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory Institutions through the uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the Authority. In the future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the authority.”

Also yesterday, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said in a statement  that the names of the EFCC, the  Upstream Regulatory Commission, and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority board members were contained in another letter to the Senate

Adesina’s statement partly read,  “Nominees for the EFCC board are George Abang Ekpungu from Cross River State (secretary);  Lukman Muhammed, (Edo);  Anumba Adaeze (Enugu);  Alhaji Kola Adesina (Kwara);  and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).

“For the upstream Regulatory Commission, Isa Ibrahim Modibbo is nominated as chairman; Gbenga Komolafe, chief executive; Hassan Gambo, executive commissioner in charge of  Finance and Accounts; and  Rose C. Ndong, executive commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management.

“Chairman nominee of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority is Idaere Gogo Ogan;  Sarki Auwalu, chief executive; Abiodun  Adeniji, executive director in charge of  Finance and Accounts; and Ogbugo Ukoha, executive director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure.”

The Nation

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