FG inaugurates National Centre for Artificial Intelligence Robotics – Newstrends
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FG inaugurates National Centre for Artificial Intelligence Robotics

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The Federal Government has inaugurated a National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in a move to scale Nigeria’s Information Communication Technology.

Built by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the centre is said to boost the development of emerging technologies in preparing Nigeria for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Pantami, said the centre “will serve as a leading hub of innovation, research and development, knowledge transfer, and training in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies.”

He also said, “Our adoption of regulatory sandbox frameworks for testing technology in a controlled environment will enable the center accelerate the progress we are making in the development of our digital economy.”

Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, noted that the centre is one of the projects that is demonstrating Nigeria’s determination to join the league of countries that are already making fortunes from digital economy.

Abdullahi said NITDA was developing platforms that would provide opportunities for young Nigerians to showcase their ingenuity in ICT.

He said, “This project is one among many of our developmental programmes in accordance with NITDA’s core mandate of facilitating the growth of Information Technology (IT) development in Nigeria.

“We are focused on providing support for viable innovations with socio-economic impact as well as a level playing field for all Nigerians to thrive in. As we enter the age of advanced technological breakthroughs such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Nigeria cannot be left out in harnessing the advantages of AI, Robotics and other emerging technologies.”

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Over 60% firms, individuals not paying tax, says LCCI president, warns against overtaxing

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President and Chairman of Council, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI, Gabriel Idahosa

Over 60% firms, individuals not paying tax, says LCCI president, warns against overtaxing

President and Chairman of Council, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI, Gabriel Idahosa, has cautioned against the multiplicity of taxes by the Federal Government, saying the development was not good for the economy. Speaking on an Arise television show monitored in Abuja, Idahosa said it was not possible to begin to raise money for every little thing in government.

He said the federal government should instead increase the capacity of the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS to collect taxes, noting that not up to 40 percent of taxable persons and organizations were taxed. According to him, the countries that are most efficient in tax collection are the countries that have the minimum number of taxes.

His words: “It is not really possible to begin to raise money for every little thing in government. To levy for cyber security, industrial training, insurance, levy for police trust fund and others, the whole approach in recent times of trying to put levy on everything is simply not the way to manage public finance in any country.

“The business of raising revenue for government is assigned to a specific organization in government which is the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS in the case of Nigeria. It is the business of the FIRS to get revenue for all the services of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The countries that are most efficient in tax collection are the countries that have the minimum number of taxes.

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It has been established during the time of the Taiwo Oyedele Tax Reform Commission that some of the levies and taxes that you create does not translate into significant increase in revenue and in any country, the agencies in charge of activities like these, whether it is high level intelligence or security, are funded from the budget of the country and the way they are funded usually is not a matter for public conversation. Nobody exposes the way the intelligence agencies of countries are funded.

“The technical issue of whether the Act was correct or not is minor. The big issue is should government of Nigeria encourage all agencies to be coming with all manner of levies for every single thing. You want something on health and you have a levy, in security you have a levy etc. That should be the more important conversation, that there should be a concerted effort to increase the capacity of the FIRS to do the job of revenue collection.

As we speak, not up to 40 percent of taxable persons are taxed. The first thing to do is to bring all taxable people into the net and then tax them accordingly. You don’t even need to raise the tax. More than 60 percent of taxable organizations and individuals are not paying tax. That should be the focus. The first level of taxation is identity. Identify economic actors at all levels right to the remotest villages.

The capacity of the FIRS to reach tax payers across the country was not built over time but with the dwindling of oil revenue, that capacity has been increased. You are beginning to see FIRS offices in several parts of the urban areas and state capitals but more than 60 percent of Nigerian businesses are not in the urban areas or state capitals. Any country that wants to collect tax, has to go very granular. Businesses that exist in every village must be taxed and that is where the FIRS is moving slowly but steadily”, he stated.

Over 60% firms, individuals not paying tax, says LCCI president, warns against overtaxing

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FAAN begins sale of e-tags at airports

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FAAN begins sale of e-tags at airports 

The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Friday commenced the sale of electronic tags (e-tags) at airports.
The initiative, it said in a statement, was in line with the presidential directive that mandating the use of e-tags for accessing the nation’s federal airports.
“Following the presidential directive that all citizens are mandated to pay for e-tags at all the 24 federal airports across the country, we wish to inform the general public that the e-tags are available for sale from Friday, 17th May, 2024 at the following locations,” FAAN said.
“Lagos: Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, Terminal 1, 5th Floor) Office of HOD Commercial. Contact: 08033713796 or 08023546030.
“Abuja: Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, HOD Commercial Office (General Aviation Terminal) Contact: 08034633527 or  08137561615.”
FAAN however said there would be an option to pay in cash at the access gates for motorists without e-tags.
On May 14, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, announced that everyone, including the President and Vice President, would pay tolls at the airports.
Keyamo said the government was losing over 82 per cent of the revenue it should have earned from the access fee.

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Your pension funds safe, won’t be accessed illegally, FG tells workers

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Your pension funds safe, won’t be accessed illegally, FG tells workers

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, says the Federal Government has no plans of illegally accessing the N20 trillion pension funds for infrastructure development.
He said noone should entertain any fear over the safety of the contributions of workers that make up the pension funds.
Edun had earlier said the spoken on a move to use the pension funds as part of the government’s efforts to bridge Nigeria’s estimated 20 million housing deficit, and provide massive housing and mortgage loans at 12 per cent interest rates, with 25-year repayment plans.
The minister’s comments had elicited serious reactions from notable groups and Nigerians, including the organised labour and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who advised the government to suspend the move.
Atiku said the move was potentially disastrous for retired Nigerians dependent on their pensions.
But in a statement personally issued on Thursday, Edun said the stories making the rounds that the government planned to illegally access the savings and pension contributions of workers were false.
He stated that the pension industry was guided by rules, adding that the government would be strictly guided by extant rules in accessing the pension funds of workers.
The minister stressed that government would not go outside the stipulated limitations on what the funds could be invested in.
The statement read in partu, “It has come to my notice that there are stories making the rounds that the Federal Government plans to illegally access the hard-earned savings and pension contributions of workers. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
“The pension industry, like most the financial industries, is highly regulated. There are rules. There are limitations about what pension money can be invested in and what it cannot be invested in.
“The Federal Government has no intention whatsoever to go beyond those limitations and go outside those bounds, which are there to safeguard the pensions of workers.
“What was announced to the Federal Executive Council was that there was an ongoing initiative drawing in all the major stakeholders in the long-term saving industry, those that handle funds that are available over a long period to see how, within the regulations and the laws, these funds could be used maximally to drive investment in key growth areas, including infrastructure, housing, and, of course, to find a way to provide Nigerians with affordable mortgages.
“Within this context, there is no attempt, nor is it being considered, to offer unsafe investments for pension funds or even insurance funds or any investment funds.
“No attempt whatsoever to increase the risk. No attempt whatsoever to lower the returns that would otherwise be earned.”

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