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Disputed tax: Tribunal orders Multichoice to deposit N900bn with FIRS

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A tax appeal tribunal sitting in Lagos has ordered Multichoice Nigeria Limited to deposit 50 per cent of the disputed N1.8 trillion tax with the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

Spokesman for the FIRS, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, made this known in a statement on Wednesday.

In July, the FIRS had appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover N1.8 trillion from accounts of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited and MultiChoice Africa.

The FIRS chairman, Muhammad Nami, had said the decision to appoint the banks as agents and to freeze the accounts was as a result of the group’s continued refusal to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit.

Nami had noted that FIRS discovered that the companies persistently breached all agreements and undertakings with the service.

The FIRS said it determined through a forensic audit that Multichoice Nigeria Limited had failed to pay to the government of Nigeria taxes worth N1.8 trillion.

In its reaction, Multichoice had assured that it would work with FIRS to prove its tax compliance.

At resumed hearing on Tuesday, the five-member TAT led by A.B. Ahmed, its chairman, issued the order following an application brought to the tribunal by the counsel to FIRS.

“The Counsel made the application under Order XI of the TAT Procedure Rules 2010 which requires Multichoice, or any other taxpayer who disputes their tax assessments, to make the statutory deposit required under Paragraph 15(7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 (FIRS Act) as a condition that must be fulfilled before the prosecution of the appeal brought before TAT,” the statement reads.

“In certain defined circumstances to which the Multichoice appeal fits, Paragraph 15(7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 (FIRS Act) requires persons or companies seeking to contest a tax assessment to pay all or a stipulated percentage of the tax assessed before they can be allowed to argue their appeal contesting the assessment at TAT.”

The FIRS said Multichoice filed a suit at the Lagos TAT following its dispute over the agency’s issuance of notices of assessment and demand note in the sum of N1, 822, 923,909,313.94k on April 7, 2021.

“At Tuesday’s hearing of the matter in Appeal No: TAT/LZ/CIT/062/2021 19/08/2021 (Multichoice Nigeria Limited v. Federal Inland Revenue Service), Multichoice Nigeria Limited amended its Notice of Appeal and thereafter sought through its Counsel,  Bidemi Olumide of AO2 Law Firm for an adjournment of the proceedings to enable it to respond to the FIRS’ formal application for accelerated hearing of the appeal and prayer before the TAT to order Multichoice to produce DSTV’s revenue and subscriber database, among other prayers,” the statement further reads.

“In response, however, the FIRS Counsel asked TAT to issue an order requiring that Multichoice makes the statutory deposit of 50 per cent of the disputed sum.

In its consideration after hearing argument from both sides, the tax tribunal upheld the FIRS act and directed Multichoice to deposit with the FIRS the amount prescribed by the law, which is an amount equal to the tax charged upon Multichoice in the preceding year of assessment or one half of the tax charged by the assessment under appeal (whichever is lesser), plus a sum equal to 10% of the said deposit as a condition precedent for further hearing of the appeal.

The tribunal adjourned the hearing of the appeal case until September 23, 2021.

 

Business

SERAP sues Buhari over alleged missing N11tn electricity fund

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President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged to court by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) for allegedly failing probe N11tn electricity fund said to missing.

The money, according to SERAP, was meant to provide regular electricity supply for the country since 1999, and it is suspected to have “been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.”

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1119/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP sought for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply has been allegedly squandered by governments since 1999.”

This is coming after it was reported that Nigeria’s electricity grid has collapsed at least three times within five months, and 130 times in seven years, plunging many households across the country into darkness.

 

 

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Toyota-Suzuki joint SUV coming in August, Africa listed

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The collaboration between Toyota and Suzuki is set to manifest in concrete terms as Toyota says it will start the production of a new SUV model developed by Suzuki at Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd from August.

The Suzuki-developed SUV will come with mild and strong hybrid variants – made in India for both brands, multiple sources including motorauthority.com report.

The two companies are said to be planning to export the new model to markets outside India including Africa.

Toyota and Suzuki are promoting mutual supply of vehicles globally, which is one of the collaborations in their business partnership.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding for a business alliance in 2017. Since then, the two companies have been bringing together Toyota’s strength in electrification technologies and Suzuki’s strength in technologies for compact vehicles for joint collaboration in production and in the widespread popularization of electrified vehicles.
The powertrains of the new model to be on sale in India will be equipped with mild hybrid developed by Suzuki and strong hybrid developed by Toyota.
By bringing together strengths of both Toyota and Suzuki through the collaboration, the two companies say they will be able to provide a wide variety of vehicle electrification technologies to customers and contribute to the acceleration of electrification and the realization of a carbon-neutral society in India.

While Suzuki leads and understands the India market, Toyota brings hybrid tech to the table.

Maruti Suzuki India Limited and TKM will market the new model in India as Suzuki and Toyota models, respectively.

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Ford to end production of Focus in 2025

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Ford has confirmed that it will stop producing the Focus model in 2025, in a move that threatens the longer-term future of its Saarlouis, Germany plant that only makes that model.

Nigeria may not miss the exit of the Focus as it has not really been as popular as other Ford models such as the Escape, the Edge and Everest.

Ford however said that its plant in Saarlouis would continue to produce the Ford Focus passenger car, while the company is also evaluating options for future site concepts.
In Europe, Ford has emphasised the future role for electrified models – which includes its Cologne plant in Germany being a hub for EV production. It will build a new SUV based on VW’s MEB platform from 2023.
Ford also recently announced that its Valencia, Spain, plant would receive investment for making electric vehicles on a next-generation electric vehicle architecture.

 

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