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Subscribers kick as FG slams N90.49bn new tax on phone calls

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…telcos meet govt this week over new tax, others

Telecommunication subscribers are kicking against a new Federal Government directive to impose a tax on telephone calls in the nation to fund free healthcare for the vulnerable.

The telecom tax in the equivalent of a minimum of one kobo per second for phone calls is a part of the sources of funds required to finance free healthcare for the Vulnerable Group in Nigeria, according to the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), last week.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigerians made 150.83 billion minutes of calls in 2020. This translates to 9.05 trillion seconds of calls, meaning the new tax will generate 9.05 trillion kobo, which converts to N90.49bn, yearly.

This new tax is coming despite moves by telecom companies to increase the price of calls, SMS, and data by 40 per cent as a result of an unfavourable operating environment.

According to the Health Insurance Act, the Vulnerable Group Fund is money budgeted to pay for healthcare services for vulnerable Nigerians who cannot pay for health insurance in a bid to subsidise the cost of provision of health care services to vulnerable people in the country.

It added that the Vulnerable Group Fund will subsidise the provision of healthcare to children under five, pregnant women, the aged, physically and mentally challenged, and the indigent as may be defined from time to time.

The Act includes a provision under Section 26 subsection 1c which states that one of the sources of money for the Vulnerable Group Fund shall include a telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls.

Other sources of funding outlined in the Act includes a basic healthcare provision fund to the authority; health insurance levy; telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls; money that may be allocated to the Vulnerable Group Fund by the government; motley that accrues to the Vulnerable Group Fund from investments made by the Council: and grants, donations, gifts, and any other voluntary contributions made to the Vulnerable Group Fund.

According to the new Act, every resident in Nigeria is expected to obtain health insurance.

However, telecom subscribers under the aegis of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, have said they will reject this new move by the government.

The President of the association, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said, “It is quite unfortunate that the government is viewing telecoms as a cash cow. We are saying. There is a lot of corruption in the system, and rather than curb that they want to focus on the telecoms sector.

“What do they mean by vulnerable? Vulnerable people in the nation are probably about 80 per cent of the population, we are all vulnerable. What has happened to the health budget? Why should it touch telecoms again? The government should look elsewhere for money. This new action is only likely to impoverish more Nigerians and they are masquerading as helping the vulnerable. This is not right.”

Recently, telecom companies wrote to the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Communications Commission, on the worsening conditions of the industry.

According to a source at the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, telecom companies cannot reject a directive of the government. The source said subscribers would pay more for calls once the tax is implemented.

He added that the NCC and ALTON would meet this week in order to discuss the issues disturbing the industry.

He said, “We are aware of the tax. We had been told before. It is the subscribers that would have to pay for this. This means subscribers will pay more for this service. Telcos cannot say no to this. It is a government directive; we can’t resist the government. I can’t say more about it.

“We are having a leadership summit with the NCC this week and we would discuss some of these issues with the NCC. Presently, telcos are paying more than 36 taxes. This is a law; we cannot reverse it. The president has signed it and before it can be changed, it must go back to the National Assembly.

“Also, we cannot give an implementation date, the government is to tell us that.”

Commenting on the act on his LinkedIn page, the Fiscal Policy Partner, and Africa Tax Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Taiwo Oyedele, said this new law would translate to a nine per cent tax on GSM calls.

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NAICOM revokes licences of Niger Insurance, Standard Alliance, appoints liquidators

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The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has revoked their licences of Niger Insurance Plc and the Standard Alliance Insurance after failing to recapitalise.

The insurance regulator has also appointed two liquidators to prepare their rites of passage.

The two insurance firms had been in poor financial state and several efforts to resuscitate them had proved abortive.

Nasdaq ‘Salami Head, Corporate Communications and Market Development

NAICOM notified insurance stakeholders and members of the public of the commission’s action

“This is to notify all insurance stakeholders and members of the public that the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM has cancelled the certificates of registration of Standard Alliance Insurance Plc, RIC – 091 and Niger Insurance Plc, RIC – 029 with effect from the 21st day of June 2022.”

Salami also announced that Sanya, Ogunkuade Esq of Plot 217, Upper Grace Plaza, 3rd Floor (Left Wing), Shetima Munguno Crescent, Behind Julius Berger Equipment Yard, Utako, Abuja as the Receiver/Liquidator for Niger Insurance Plc and, Kehinde Aina Esq of Aina Blankson LP, 5/7, Ademola Street, SW Ikoyi, Lagos as the Receiver/Liquidator for Standard Alliance Insurance Plc.

He advised all stakeholders to forward their enquiries to the respective receiver/liquidator for each company for their necessary action.

The commission assures all stakeholders of the safety and protection of their interests.

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As Mercedes cuts dealerships, Nigerian traders may be axed

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There is uncertainty over the fate of some Mercedes-Benz dealers in Nigeria operating through Weststar Associates Limited (the authorized distributor of Mercedes Benz in the country) as there are speculations that they may be sacked.

This follows international reports that Mercedes-Benz plans to reduce its dealerships by 10% worldwide, and up to 20% in the home market, Germany, by 2025, as it targets direct sales.

The prolific car manufacturer plan to hit 25 per cent online sales by 2025 as well as secure 80 per cent of European sales through its new direct sales model by 2025.

“We want to have more proximity to the customer and therefore have better control over pricing,” Mercedes chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm recently said.

“That’s why we are moving from the current dealer role.”

Weststar Associates Limited dealers in Nigeria who may be among those that may be affected by this new policy of Mercedes Benz include Skymit, Sunny Motors, Barbedos Cars, Mercedes Benz Centre and Tetralog.

However, when an official of Weststar Associates Limited was contacted by Transport Day, he promised to get back with an official position of the company concerning the matter, but Transport Day was yet to get the feedback as at the time of filling this report.

Mercedes-Benz currently has approximately 6,500 Mercedes and Smart sales and service outlets worldwide, and roughly 1,000 dealerships in Germany.

According to Bettina Fetzer, Vice president of communications and marketing, cuts to its global dealership will take place by 2025 while cuts in the German market will take place by 2028.

Founded in 2007, Weststar Associates Limited came into being after the official exit of Mercedes Benz representative office in Nigeria, following the disinvestment of the German company from Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), Enugu.

Source: Transport Day

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Latest seven-seater Range Rover SV unveiled for Nigerian market

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Coscharis Motors has rolled out the all-new Range Rover SV, a seven-seater, for the Nigerian market.
The unveiling of the luxury sport utility vehicle, courtesy of Coscharis Motors, was done at the company’s office at Awoyaya, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos.
General Manager, Marketing/Corporate Communications, Coscharis Group, Abiona Babarinde, said the Range Rover SV is one of the most desirable models ever created by Land Rover.
The vehicle is said to have a distinctive design detail resulting in a form that speaks to modernity and the pinnacle of progressive luxury.
Giving specific special features of the new Range Rover, Marketing Manager, Jaguar Land Rover, Cletus Aregbesola, says the vehicle is well defined by aesthetic grace, sophistication and refinement.
According to him, Range Rover would not have anticipated designing a Range Rover with seven seats four years ago but that milestone has been successfully achieved with the new Range Rover.


Having seven seats, the marketing manager said, had not affected both the driver’s legroom and rear legroom.
He said, “It has a choice of Standard or Long Wheelbase body designs provides elevated luxury for five or seven adults, all delivered while retaining the unmistakeable Range Rover profile and Command Driving position.
“Range Rover’s imposing face communicates a character of unparalleled. And, for the first time on Range Rover, 23” wheels enhance the vehicle’s presence and supreme stature, contrasted by its reductive, modern detail”, he added.
Jaguar Land Rover Service Manager, Masimba Joseph Gwetsuro, speaks on the driving dynamics, saying the vehicle is provided with new 530PS (390kW) 4.4-litre V8 that produces maximum torque of 750Nm.


Gwetsuro says that it takes the Range Rover from 0-100km/h (0-60mph) in 4,6 (4,4) seconds.
The new 530PS (390kW) 4.4-litre V8 produces maximum torque of 750Nm.
He says, “With Dynamic Launch engaged, he declared that the vehicle has cleaner, more efficient mild hybrid technology available with a range of diesel and petrol engines.
“Range Rover features a modern and sophisticated interior, underpinned by its impeccable reductive nature, tactile materials and an intuitive approach to relevant technology. No detail has been overlooked. Nothing is for show.”
He says the new Range Rover is now available in all Coscharis showrooms across the country with prices ranging between N70 million and N200 million.

 

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