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Nigeria lost N5.4tn to tax evasion by multinationals – FIRS chairman

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Nigeria lost over $178 billion (about N5.4 trillion) through tax evasion by multinationals operating in the country between 2007 and 2017, Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Muhammad Nami, has said.

He stated this on Monday at a workshop on effective audit of multinational corporations for domestic revenue mobilisation in Nigeria, which was organised by the service in partnership with the Tax Justice Network.

A statement by the Director, Communications and Liaison Department at the FIRS, Dr Abdullahi Ahmad, quoted Nami as also saying with the signing of the 2021 budget of N13.58 trillion by President Muhammadu Buhari and given the recent decline in oil resources, the major revenue earner for the country, taxation, was expected to continue to shoulder the government’s budget performance the way it did in 2020.

He also said the service had created 35 additional tax audit units over the last one year to stem illicit financial outflows as well as improve tax compliance rate among corporations.

He said many “rich multinational corporations do not pay the right taxes due from them, let alone pay their taxes voluntarily.”

He, however, stated that some of the companies were “leading in tax compliance in various sectors.”

The FIRS boss cited a 2014 report by the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, saying, “Nigeria accounted for 30.5 per cent of money lost by the continent through illicit financial flows.”

Nami also said, “At the FIRS, we are paying greater attention to tax audit in general and transfer pricing audit in particular in order to improve the level of tax compliance in the country.

“As a result, in the last one year, we have created more than 35 additional tax audit units and deployed experienced and capable staff to take charge of these offices.”

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Three Russian firms, eight others bid for Ajaokuta steel company

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Eleven companies are currently bidding for the concession of the Ajaokuta steel company, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.

He said three of the bidders are Russian firms.

Adegbite disclosed this at the presentation of the achievements of his ministry during the 9th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s scorecard series,  held in Abuja on Thursday.

The minister said the Buhari government had been able to resolve all contending legal issues with the steel company and was in the concession process.

He also said the major issue with the company was the concession that was done in 2005 by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to Global Steel, which resulted in litigation and a demand of $7 billion by the company.

“One of the major albatross on Ajaokuta was the concession that occurred under former President Olusegun Obasanjo to Messers Global Steel Industries,” he said.

“Things went sour and they took us to court. The court case went on for about 12 years, but thanks to a patriotic Nigerian lawyer in the United Kingdom who handled the case very effectively.

“Global steel came with a demand of $7 billion, but our lawyer was able to puncture holes in their case, and at the end, they had to settle for $496 million.”

According to Adegbite, the judgement was favourable to Nigerians.

There had been issues around the payment of $496 million to Global Steel — years after the firm gave up all claims.

The minister also said the current administration had plans to make Ajaokuta Steel Company functional before the end of 2022, but for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, said that the government was still committed to ensuring that the company was given out through a concession to a competent bidder with technical and financial capacities to optimise its potential.

“We were supposed to make the plant work in 2022. One of the presidential mandates was to resolve all contending issues on Ajaokuta,” he added.

“In 2019, at the Russian-Africa summit in Moscow, President Muhammadu Buhari discussed the idea of resuscitating Ajaokuta with President Vladimir Putin.

“An agreement was reached for Russian engineers to come in for a technical audit by March 2020.

“But the emergence of the first and second waves of COVID-19 stalled the plan.

“We hope that we can give Ajaokuta to a company, not just on a concession basis, but on equity participation.”

Adegbite further said out of the 11 companies bidding, adding that three of the companies were Russian.

“We are talking of companies who intend to bring their own money into Ajaokuta to make sure that it works,” the minister said.

“The plant is still good if we put in the right amount of capital, it will start producing in less than two years.

“Government has employed a transaction adviser who will guide us through the process.”

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Don’t buy meter, transformer, wires, NERC tells electricity consumers

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NERC’s Commissioner-in-charge of Consumers Affairs, Aisha Mahmud

• Insists consumers must sign agreement for refund
Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), yesterday, in Abuja, said it remains the responsibility of electricity distribution companies to provide meters, transformers, poles, wires and other things needed for electricity supply to consumers.

NERC’s Commissioner-in-charge of Consumers Affairs, Aisha Mahmud, speaking during a three-day NERC/Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Customer Complaint Resolution Meeting, said a lot of consumers in Nigeria are not aware of their right.

“It is not the responsibility of the consumers to buy meters, poles or any assets for the DisCos (distribution companies) because we have already provided for that in the tariff of the utilities.
“But under any circumstances that you have to purchase these items and you cannot wait for the DisCos to make that investment, we have made provision for that under our ‘investment regulation’,” Mahmud said.

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She noted that the commission will continue to educate consumers on their responsibilities and obligations, adding that there’s a regulation, and based on that, if a consumer has to purchase a transformer, it has to be done through an agreement.

She said: “The agreement should contain a dispute resolution clause and all other items that are expected of a standard agreement. What we expect from the DisCos is to use their Internally Generated Revenue to buy those assets or rather use shareholders’ investment or borrow from banks to purchase the assets.”

According to her, it’s NERC’s responsibility to educate customers on their rights and obligations and all they are supposed to know about the electricity market.
Managing Director of AEDC, Adeoye Fadeyibi, said the company will do everything possible to meet the demands of consumers.

Represented by the Head, Regulatory and Government Relation of the AEDC, Olajumoke Delonia, Fadeyibi said the idea of the forum was to address customers’ complaints and commended NERC for the initiative.

Guardian

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Naira: CBN Receives Over N500bn Old Notes

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele

As Nigerians count down on the official disbursement of new naira notes, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, revealed that the apex bank had received over N500 billion old notes as more people are working to meet the deadline. Emefiele, who stated this after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, to brief him on developments in the economy, also informed journalists that the president reaffirmed his support for all decisions so far taken on the currency alteration and cashless policy decisions.

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He said in order to ensure that members of the public are not placed in a tight corner, deposit money banks (DMBs) had taken delivery of the new currencies for onward circulation from December 15. Emefiele’s meeting with the president came on the heels of National Assembly’s objection to the implementation of withdrawal limits announced Tuesday by the apex bank The CBN governor said President Buhari was happy with the CBN policy and urged him to go ahead with implementation. Asked of his mission in Daura by newsmen, he said: “I am visiting Daura to see the President, and also greet him as part of my normal briefing that I normally carry out. The briefing has been overdue and I thought he should be briefed on what is happening in central bank and the economy.

“There are so many things happening, issues bordering on currency. “Only yesterday, the new currencies have now reached the banks, and we expect the banks to begin the distribution of the currencies to members of the public and customers; and to assure the president that things are going on well about the currency and the issue bordering on cashless policy that we recently introduced.”

New Telegraph

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