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Buhari will respect final court verdict on VAT – Adesina

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The Presidency has said President Muhammadu Buhari will respect the final verdict on the Value Added Tax as decided by the Supreme Court.

There has been a raging controversy whether the states or the Federal Government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service should have the powers to collect VAT.

But reacting to the issue, spokesman for the President, Femi Adesina, “Eventually, we will have a legal pronouncement, which may come from the highest court in the land…. Knowing the Buhari administration, it will obey the rule of law.”

He added, “All these states are not unanimous. You have heard some governors speaking out against the position of certain states which are so militant on this VAT issue.”

According to him, the matter will affect the ongoing conversation on fiscal federalism.

He said, “The VAT is good because there have been talks about restructuring and fiscal federalism in the country. If states eventually get their demands in respect of VAT, there will be something like fulfilling fiscal federalism. But then, fiscal federalism itself must be done within the ambits of the law.”

The row over who collects VAT between the Federal Government and the state governments broke out after last month’s verdict by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that Rivers State is legally in order to collect VAT in its domain.

The Rivers State Government quickly enacted a VAT law and commenced the process to start the collection.

But the FIRS insisted on continuing with the collection and has challenged the judgment at the Court of Appeal, which on Friday ordered the maintenance of the status quo until the determination of the appeal.

Lagos State, which generates the highest amount of VAT, has enacted its own law empowering it to collect the consumption tax in its domain.

Adesina, speaking on Arise TV, also touched on Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) 2020 financial report, and the security situation in the Northwest.

On the NNPC 2020 audited reports and the declared profit after tax of N287 billion, Adesina lashed out at those who always fail to see positive developments, but are always looking for bad in every good being recorded in Nigeria’s recent history.

He described the state of minds of those picking holes in the news of the profit as those that have been accustomed to hearing bad news, adding that they questioned its authenticity because they never thought that positive things could happen in government.

“Well, we have heard stories in this country before; how Presidents will just give notes to NNPC and their wishes got done without records. There was a lot of impunity in this country, but the NNPC GMD is on record, even the Chief Finance Officer, Umar Ajiya, is on record as saying that President Buhari does not interfere in their operations. It used to happen, but under this administration, it has never happened. That was why you had that declared profit.

“But the surprising thing is that it seems some Nigerians are already so used to bad news, that they have got inured to good news. When that good news came, their first instinct was to pick holes in it because all their lives they are used to bad news.

“When that good news came, they couldn’t imagine it, but it happened. I watched your engagement with the Chief Finance Officer of the NNPC, how he explained that profit and anybody who is not cynical, will know that there’s a lot of truth in what the CFO said.

“Yes, I watched the encounter with the CFO, like I said, and he emphasised that one of the things they had to do was to cut costs. Cut costs for operations; cut costs of production, running costs, and it all redounded to the profit that was declared.

“It shows that there was a lot of wastage, extravagance, lack of accountability in the previous years and the man also said both the President and the Vice President never interfere in the operations.

“As we said in the beginning, we knew and heard and it was indeed true that presidents and those in the corridors of power used to give directives to the NNPC to do certain things, which at the end of the day will erode the profitability of the corporation. That doesn’t happen again and that is why that perfect came.”

Asked if the President would be disposed to speaking to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in a private audience, in order to avert the industrial action they just threatened to embark on, Adesina said “why not? The President will do everything that will contribute to industrial harmony in any part of the country, but I also recall that in 2020, just before the COVID lockdown began, ASUU came to see the President, the President personally received ASUU, I was at that meeting, but ASUU still went on strike that lasted about 10 months or more.

“So, what I’ll like to say is that we shouldn’t have the ‘we against them mentality’ in this country. Nigeria belongs to all of us; it belongs to lecturers, it belongs to ASUU, it belongs to those serving in government, it belongs to the ordinary Nigerians. This ‘we against them mentality’ serves nobody any good purpose. Whatever will account for industrial harmony, including on our campuses, let all sides do”, he said.

On the lingering ban of the international social media platform, Twitter, from Nigeria, and the recent shutdown of telecommunication coverage in Zamfara and parts of Katsina State, the presidential spokesman said they were actions taken in the overall interest of security and peace in the country.

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CIG upgrades Lagos auto plant to CKD, plans 5,000 vehicles yearly

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A new auto assembly plant being constructed by CIG Motors Company Limited in conjunction with the Lagos State Government has been upgraded from Semi-Knocked Down (SKD) vehicles to Complete Knocked Down vehicle components (CKD), the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said.

The governor disclosed this on Thursday during an inspection of the construction work at the Ogba project site, adding that the plant to assemble GAC brand of vehicles, would be ready by the end of this year.

The governor was received by the Chairman of the CIG Motors, Chief Diana Chen.

A statement by Gboyega Akosile, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, said Sanwo-Olu, who inspected the fully equipped assembly hall already constructed in the assembly yard, said the plant would produce 5,000 new vehicles and gradually increase to 10,000 units annually.

Part of the statement read, “Sanwo-Olu’s visit came 17 months after the governor formally sealed a Joint Venture Agreement with the automobile company for the establishment of a vehicle assembly plant in the state.

“The plant, expected to be delivered by the end of the year, will have a jointly-run factory for the production of different classes of brand new cars.

“Establishment of the vehicle assembly plant in Lagos was part of the bilateral agreements reached by the state government and Chinese investors’ community in November 2019 during Sanwo-Olu’s business trip to China.

“IBILE Holdings Limited, a state-owned corporation, is supervising the investment on behalf of the Lagos State Government.

“Other ancillary facilities already in place in the yard include wheel balancing chamber, spraying booths, maintenance hall, noise testing chambers, sprinkling arena to test for roof leakage, staff lounge and auto parts warehouse.”

The statement quoted Sanwo-Olu as saying, “This is one of the things we promised Lagosians. Apart from our relationship with CIG Motors, there is a partnership in which we are setting up a vehicle assembly plant.

“This is becoming a reality, as the site is live with structures and assembly equipment. The place has been well prepared for the production of vehicles. We initially agreed it would be SKD (Semi Knocked Down) but now the facility has moved to CKD (Completely Knocked Down).

“We are hoping that their first plan is to have a production capacity of 5,000 vehicles, after which it will be pushed to 10,000 vehicles per year.

“We are happy with the level of work at the site and the commitment of our partner to this project. The plan is that we want to stop buying fully built vehicles from abroad; we want to be able to have an assembly line where we can employ our citizens in an automobile production chain.”

According to him, the automobile assembly plant will create employment opportunities for local skilled workers, as 95 per cent of the workforce would be sourced locally.

“Also, some of the parts used in the assembly plant would be sourced locally, including air conditioning system, valves, ball joints, bolts and nuts, and batteries.”

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Despite Opposition, FG Set to Implement 5 Per Cent Hike on Data, Voice Calls

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed

*Finance Minister faults Pantami on new tax

Despite opposition by various stakeholders, including the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, the federal government has declared its readiness to implement the five per cent hike in tariff on data and voice calls.

Owing to this, it has directed telecommunications operators to henceforth effect the new tariff and remit to the government before the 21st of every month.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed who gave the directive yesterday, also faulted her Communications and Digital Economy counterpart for claiming ignorance of the new tariff hike.

In a statement issued by her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, the finance minister announced that the government would commence the implementation of the new tax regime on all voice calls, short message services (SMSs) and data services, in addition to the existing 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) paid for goods and services across all sectors of the economy.

The statement said the minister made the disclosure on the five per cent excise duty during a stakeholders’ meeting, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator.

It pointed out that at the meeting, Ahmed, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Tax Policy, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Musa Umar, noted: “The five per cent excise duty has been in the Finance Act 2020, but has never been implemented.
“Henceforth, the five per cent excise duty will be collected by telecom operators and payment made to the federal government on a monthly basis, on or before 21st of every month.”

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Reacting to Pantami’s recent position that he was not carried along on the new tariff regime, Ahmed said her counterpart could not claim ignorance of the policy.
She said it was worth noting that there was a circular indicating the planned hike, which was addressed to the communication minister and other relevant ministries and agencies of government via a circular referenced No. F. 17417/VI/286 dated March 1, 2022, and titled “Approval for Implementation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments.”

The statement added: “Against the comments by Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, concerning the five per cent excise duty hike on telecoms services, it is worth noting that there was a circular stating the planned hike which was addressed to the communication minister and other relevant ministries and agencies of government.

“The circular referenced No. F. 17417/VI/286 dated 1st March 2022, and titled “Approval for Implementation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments” was addressed to different Ministers, including Honourable Minister, Communications and Digital Economy and other heads of government agencies.

“The circular was addressed to The Secretary to The Government of The Federation, Attorney-General of The Federation, Ministers of Industry, Trade an Investment, Agriculture and Rural development, Mines and Steel and Development.

“Others are Ministers of Health, Aviation, Information And Culture, Budget And National Planning. Other heads of agencies copied in the circular are Accountant-General of the Federation, Comptroller-General of Customs, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Director-General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council.
“Others are the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.”

Reinforcing her position, Ahmed said with the aforementioned reference, it therefore, meant that all stakeholders had by that singular provision been aware of the Act.
According to her, the excise duty on telecommunication services provided in Nigeria introduced through the Finance Act, 2020 with statutory enactment on January 1, 2021 is yet to be implemented till date.

She added that this was considering the need to ensure reasonable transition period before the implementation of the new tax, as well as providing clarity to all stakeholders on implementation modalities.

Pantami had recently expressed dissatisfaction with efforts by the federal government to introduce the five per cent  excise duty on telecommunication services.

Speaking at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content EXPO (NTICE) themed ‘Stimulating the development of Indigenous Content through innovation and commercialisation’  in Lagos, he had stressed the need for the government and stakeholders to continue to support the sector, and not unnecessarily burden.

Pantami had said he would explore every legitimate means to stop the planned five per cent excise duty on telecoms consumers, faulting the timing and process of imposing the tax on the industry.

According to him, part of the responsibility of a responsive government was not to increase the challenges that citizens were facing.

“The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is not satisfied with any effort to introduce excise duty on Telecommunications. When VAT was increased to 7.5 per cent, I was not consulted.

” I only heard the announcement and I think there is something questionable and I am glad that we are on the same page with our National Assembly members.

“They too have not been consulted despite the fact that they are part of the committee,” the minister reportedly said.

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Jaiz Bank grows balance sheet to 300bn

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Jaiz Bank Plc, Nigeria’s pioneer Islamic bank, said its balance sheet grew to N300 billion at the end of the 2021 financial year from N12 billion when it started operations 10 years ago.

Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Hassan Usman, told journalists at a briefing on the bank’s 10th anniversary in Abuja, yesterday, that the bank was able to break even within three years of its operations and has since then maintained a growth trajectory.

According to him, the bank has recorded an average of 30 per cent growth Year-on-Year and a 40 percent profitability Year-on-year; while increasing its branches from the initial three to the current 45.

He stated that the bank invested N75 billion in providing about 3,000 houses and another N60 billion in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, with beneficiaries cutting across urban and rural areas.

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His words: “Jaiz as a pioneer has proved that the concept of non-interest banking is workable even in the Nigerian environment.  We have more interests now in this sector by individuals and corporate organizations.  Even the public sector has embraced the non-interest business model, in order to derive the benefits associated with the system.

“Jaiz Bank started with only three branches in 2012.  Today, we have more than 45 branches spread across Nigeria. In the first year, the balance sheet was just N12 billion.  By the end of 2021, our balance sheet had grown to N300 billion.

“At the beginning, we were more of a corporate banking in terms of our bank’s offering, but now we have diversified the products offering from corporate to SMEs and even in some cases we experimented with micro because of our mission of making life better for Nigerians.

“Over the years, we have experimented with the people at the bottom of the pyramid, especially women, by providing equity type of financing for them to develop their small businesses so that the household income would improve and the welfare of the family be appreciated, with the children of those families benefiting as we see better enrolment of those children in school.”

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