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Southern govs okay VAT collection by state governments

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Governors of the southern states have agreed that collection of value-added tax (VAT) should be undertaken by state governments.

Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, disclosed this on Thursday while reading a communique at the end of a meeting of the governors in Enugu.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service and some state governments are currently in court over VAT collection.

Rivers and Lagos state governments have enacted laws empowering their respective states to collect the tax (VAT).

Last week, the Court of Appeal directed states to maintain status quo on VAT collection pending the determination of an appeal filed by the FIRS.

Akeredolu said that the governors affirmed that the collection of VAT fell within the powers of state governments.

“We resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the state,” he said.

He also said, “The meeting reaffirmed its earlier commitment to fiscal federalism and emphasised the need to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.”

Akeredolu urged states in the south to leverage the competence of their houses of assembly and representation at the national assembly to pursue the goal.

He said that the meeting reviewed the state of the nation and the progress made in the implementation of the ban on open grazing of cattle in the south of Nigeria.

He said, “The meeting expressed satisfaction with the rate at which states in the south of Nigeria are amending or enacting the anti-open grazing law.

“This aligns with the uniform template and aspiration of governors in the south and we encourage the states that have yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.

“The meeting agreed to encourage the full operationalisation of the already agreed regional security which will share intelligence and collaborate toward the safety and security of the region.”

The meeting was attended by Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta.

Others are Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).

The deputy governors in attendance were Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti), Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo), Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi), Ude Oko-Chukwu (Abia), Philip Shuaibu (Edo), Prof. Ivara Esu (Cross River) and Placid Njoku (Imo).

Business

Emirates Suspends All Nigerian Flights Over $85m Blocked Funds

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Emirates Airlines has announced the suspension of its flights from Nigeria with effect from September 1, 2022.
The decision was due to the inability of the airline to repatriate its funds from Nigeria.
Recall that the airline had in a leaked letter to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said it would reduce its frequencies in Nigeria from 11 to seven by mid August over its trapped $85m in Nigeria.
Daily Trust reports that other airlines may also follow suit as blocked funds belonging to foreign airlines have hit over $600m which they are unable to repatriate as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could not meet airlines’ request for dollars.
In line with the bilateral air service agreements (BASAs), foreign airlines are expected to issue their tickets in naira while the CBN provides the dollar equivalence for repatriation to their home countries.
In a statement on Thursday morning, Emirates said it would stop all its flights to Nigeria, adding it might re-evaluate its decision if there was any positive development in the coming days.
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The statement read: “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.
“Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1 September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.
“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will of course re-evaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”
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Business

Niger, Benin, Togo Owe Nigeria N5.8bn For Power In 2020 – Report

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The Republic of the Niger, Republic of Benin and Togolese Republic did not pay a N5.86 billion electricity debt in 2020 from an invoice of N16.31bn issued to them by the Nigerian Electricity Market (NEM) for the year.

According to the report for 2020 released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the companies for each of the countries are Societe Nigerienne d’electricite (SNE), Societe Beninoise d’Energie Electrique (SBEE) and Compagnie Energie Electrique du Togo (CEET) respectively.

The remittances showed that the Nigerian Market Operator (MO) gave the countries N16.31bn from which they paid N10.45bn for the services received from MO, while N5.86bn was outstanding.

Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd, termed a special customer in Nigeria, and its host community did not pay anything after consuming N1.08bn worth of electricity in the year. The invoice from Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) to the company was N930m, while that of MO was N150m. NERC recommended in the report that, “MO and NBET must activate the relevant safeguards against continued non-settlement of market obligations by these market participants.”

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Also, in 2020 NERC issued five new generation licences and renewed three others which would add 667.70 megawatts (MW) to the grid. The new licences can add 235MW while the renewed licences were for 346MW capacity of electricity generation. It also gave approval to 33 Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) and certified 17 Meter Service Providers (MSPs).

On metering, the report indicated that 537,400 meters were installed for consumers in 2020, a 60.4 per cent higher figure than the 334,896 meters installed in 2019.

Despite this, the huge metering gap for end-use customers is still a key challenge in the industry. Registered customers grew to 11,841,819 (11.8m) in 2020 but just 4,666,191 (4.6m) or 39.40 per cent of them were metered.

“Therefore, 60.60 per cent of the registered electricity customers are on estimated billing contributing to apathy toward payment for electricity bills,” it stated.

Daily Trust

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Railway

Chinese contractor lays final track beam of Lagos blue rail

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  • New rail line may extend to Agbara, Ogun State

The laying of the last track beam (T-beam) of a 27-kilometre Lagos Blue Rail Mass Transit commenced on Wednesday with a promise to deliver the landmark project in December this year as scheduled.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu flagged off the engineering procedure at the site of the Marina station of the rail project.

A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, said, “with the laying of the final T-Beam, all difficult civil works standing in the way of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, which started in 2012, have been overcome.

“The contractor – China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) – will now go ahead to set the rail tracks along the alignment and move the project to completion.”

It said Governor Sanwo-Olu got the commitment of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and the contractor to the December deadline for the Blue Line project’s completion.

Lagos Government will be delivering two rail mass transit projects within the first term of the Sanwo-Olu administration. The Blue Line traversing between Mile 2 and Marina will be operated on Electric Motor Unit (EMU); while the 37-kilometre Red Line, from Agbado to Ebute Metta, will operate on Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).

Speaking at the launch of the last T-Beam on the Blue Line, Sanwo-Olu said the achievement signposted his administration’s commitment to bringing succour to Lagosians and give them choices in mass transportation.

The governor said the rail projects represented the audacity of his administration’s vision to deliver a robust integrated transit system as encapsulated in the Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of his government’s T.H.E.M.E.S. development agenda.

He said, “Today’s final T-beam launch indicates that we are gradually inching to the completion of the civil infrastructure for the first phase of the Blue Line traversing from Mile 2 to Marina. The engineering work today completes a total of 1,967 piles foundation, while we have also completed three 306 platforms, 310 piers, 267 cover beams and erection of 984 T-beams.

“We are not just making promises; people are beginning to see for themselves that all the milestones and the difficult tasks we are meant to achieve to ensure operation of the Blue Line are being achieved. The Marina Station, which is the iconic terminal for the Blue Line, will be completed within two-and-half months. I am restating here that we will formally complete this Blue Line before December 31, 2022.”

The governor said the two sets of EMU coaches already procured for the Blue Line operations would arrive in Lagos from China before the end of October. He said the rail line would be test run immediately after completion, while passenger movement would start within the first quarter of 2023.

Sanwo-Olu said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line project would commence after the start of operation, which would extend the rail project from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.

He said Blue Line stations would be built at Festac, Alakija, Trade Fair, Volkswagen, LASU and Okokomaiko.

The governor disclosed that talks were being held with the Ogun State Government for possible extension of the rail line to Agbara.

He said, “The second phase of the Blue Line project will be an easy infrastructure to develop because the marked alignment for stations and tracks are largely at grid level. While we are at this, the Red Line is also on the way. This is a start-and-end project for our administration, with about seven stations concurrently being built. This will redefine mass transportation in Lagos.

“To our citizens, I say the Blue Line is for real and you will ride on it in no distant future. For the Doubting Thomases and people that do not like our face, their eyes cannot disbelieve in the infrastructure we are bequeathing to the citizens of our State. They cannot disbelieve in our bold effort and commitment to improve mobility and deliver transport infrastructure that brings ease to our people.”

LAMATA Managing Director, Abimbola Akinajo, an engineer, said the first 13-kilometre stretch of the Blue Line construction was divided into four phases to enable the government to fund the project from its internally generated revenue.

To get to the current status, she said the construction work experienced disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, submarine natural gas pipelines, and removal of underground shipwrecks.

“Just as we are laying the final T-beam for the rail tracks, we are also currently retrofitting the train stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu and National Theatre with light in readiness for passenger operation in the first quarter of 2023,” Akinajo said.

CCECC Chairman, Mr Liu Wei Min, described the event as the most significant level of the project.

He said, “We express our sincere gratitude to the present administration under the leadership of Mr Sanwo-Olu in reaching this milestone.

“We will continue to work to meet the ultimate target in delivering the entire project with high standards and quality.”

The T-beam laying event was also attended by Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Mr Chu Mao ming.

 

 

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