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VAT row: More northern states team up with FIRS

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There are indications that the Attorney-General of the Federation and some state governments in the north will jointly challenge the court order which permits states to collect Value Added Tax (VAT).

Following the judgment of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which upheld the powers of the Rivers State Government to collect VAT, Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom and Oyo States had begun moves to enforce the order.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had on September 10 ordered status quo in the matter; while it allowed an application by the Lagos State Government to join the appeal.

Rivers State is currently challenging the order for status quo order before the Supreme Court.

Sources said more states opposed to the judgment planned to team up with the Federal Inland Revenue Service in filing applications against states’ collection of VAT.

But the Solicitor-General of Kaduna State, Chris Umar, told Daily Trust that the state was yet to file any application for joinder.

“You must have heard the position of the Northern Governors Forum. Our position would not be far different from others. When we receive contrary instructions, we’d let you know,” he said.

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CIG upgrades Lagos auto plant to CKD, plans 5,000 vehicles yearly

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A new auto assembly plant being constructed by CIG Motors Company Limited in conjunction with the Lagos State Government has been upgraded from Semi-Knocked Down (SKD) vehicles to Complete Knocked Down vehicle components (CKD), the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said.

The governor disclosed this on Thursday during an inspection of the construction work at the Ogba project site, adding that the plant to assemble GAC brand of vehicles, would be ready by the end of this year.

The governor was received by the Chairman of the CIG Motors, Chief Diana Chen.

A statement by Gboyega Akosile, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, said Sanwo-Olu, who inspected the fully equipped assembly hall already constructed in the assembly yard, said the plant would produce 5,000 new vehicles and gradually increase to 10,000 units annually.

Part of the statement read, “Sanwo-Olu’s visit came 17 months after the governor formally sealed a Joint Venture Agreement with the automobile company for the establishment of a vehicle assembly plant in the state.

“The plant, expected to be delivered by the end of the year, will have a jointly-run factory for the production of different classes of brand new cars.

“Establishment of the vehicle assembly plant in Lagos was part of the bilateral agreements reached by the state government and Chinese investors’ community in November 2019 during Sanwo-Olu’s business trip to China.

“IBILE Holdings Limited, a state-owned corporation, is supervising the investment on behalf of the Lagos State Government.

“Other ancillary facilities already in place in the yard include wheel balancing chamber, spraying booths, maintenance hall, noise testing chambers, sprinkling arena to test for roof leakage, staff lounge and auto parts warehouse.”

The statement quoted Sanwo-Olu as saying, “This is one of the things we promised Lagosians. Apart from our relationship with CIG Motors, there is a partnership in which we are setting up a vehicle assembly plant.

“This is becoming a reality, as the site is live with structures and assembly equipment. The place has been well prepared for the production of vehicles. We initially agreed it would be SKD (Semi Knocked Down) but now the facility has moved to CKD (Completely Knocked Down).

“We are hoping that their first plan is to have a production capacity of 5,000 vehicles, after which it will be pushed to 10,000 vehicles per year.

“We are happy with the level of work at the site and the commitment of our partner to this project. The plan is that we want to stop buying fully built vehicles from abroad; we want to be able to have an assembly line where we can employ our citizens in an automobile production chain.”

According to him, the automobile assembly plant will create employment opportunities for local skilled workers, as 95 per cent of the workforce would be sourced locally.

“Also, some of the parts used in the assembly plant would be sourced locally, including air conditioning system, valves, ball joints, bolts and nuts, and batteries.”

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Despite Opposition, FG Set to Implement 5 Per Cent Hike on Data, Voice Calls

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed

*Finance Minister faults Pantami on new tax

Despite opposition by various stakeholders, including the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, the federal government has declared its readiness to implement the five per cent hike in tariff on data and voice calls.

Owing to this, it has directed telecommunications operators to henceforth effect the new tariff and remit to the government before the 21st of every month.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed who gave the directive yesterday, also faulted her Communications and Digital Economy counterpart for claiming ignorance of the new tariff hike.

In a statement issued by her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, the finance minister announced that the government would commence the implementation of the new tax regime on all voice calls, short message services (SMSs) and data services, in addition to the existing 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) paid for goods and services across all sectors of the economy.

The statement said the minister made the disclosure on the five per cent excise duty during a stakeholders’ meeting, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator.

It pointed out that at the meeting, Ahmed, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Tax Policy, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Musa Umar, noted: “The five per cent excise duty has been in the Finance Act 2020, but has never been implemented.
“Henceforth, the five per cent excise duty will be collected by telecom operators and payment made to the federal government on a monthly basis, on or before 21st of every month.”

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Reacting to Pantami’s recent position that he was not carried along on the new tariff regime, Ahmed said her counterpart could not claim ignorance of the policy.
She said it was worth noting that there was a circular indicating the planned hike, which was addressed to the communication minister and other relevant ministries and agencies of government via a circular referenced No. F. 17417/VI/286 dated March 1, 2022, and titled “Approval for Implementation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments.”

The statement added: “Against the comments by Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, concerning the five per cent excise duty hike on telecoms services, it is worth noting that there was a circular stating the planned hike which was addressed to the communication minister and other relevant ministries and agencies of government.

“The circular referenced No. F. 17417/VI/286 dated 1st March 2022, and titled “Approval for Implementation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments” was addressed to different Ministers, including Honourable Minister, Communications and Digital Economy and other heads of government agencies.

“The circular was addressed to The Secretary to The Government of The Federation, Attorney-General of The Federation, Ministers of Industry, Trade an Investment, Agriculture and Rural development, Mines and Steel and Development.

“Others are Ministers of Health, Aviation, Information And Culture, Budget And National Planning. Other heads of agencies copied in the circular are Accountant-General of the Federation, Comptroller-General of Customs, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Director-General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council.
“Others are the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.”

Reinforcing her position, Ahmed said with the aforementioned reference, it therefore, meant that all stakeholders had by that singular provision been aware of the Act.
According to her, the excise duty on telecommunication services provided in Nigeria introduced through the Finance Act, 2020 with statutory enactment on January 1, 2021 is yet to be implemented till date.

She added that this was considering the need to ensure reasonable transition period before the implementation of the new tax, as well as providing clarity to all stakeholders on implementation modalities.

Pantami had recently expressed dissatisfaction with efforts by the federal government to introduce the five per cent  excise duty on telecommunication services.

Speaking at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content EXPO (NTICE) themed ‘Stimulating the development of Indigenous Content through innovation and commercialisation’  in Lagos, he had stressed the need for the government and stakeholders to continue to support the sector, and not unnecessarily burden.

Pantami had said he would explore every legitimate means to stop the planned five per cent excise duty on telecoms consumers, faulting the timing and process of imposing the tax on the industry.

According to him, part of the responsibility of a responsive government was not to increase the challenges that citizens were facing.

“The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is not satisfied with any effort to introduce excise duty on Telecommunications. When VAT was increased to 7.5 per cent, I was not consulted.

” I only heard the announcement and I think there is something questionable and I am glad that we are on the same page with our National Assembly members.

“They too have not been consulted despite the fact that they are part of the committee,” the minister reportedly said.

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Jaiz Bank grows balance sheet to 300bn

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Jaiz Bank Plc, Nigeria’s pioneer Islamic bank, said its balance sheet grew to N300 billion at the end of the 2021 financial year from N12 billion when it started operations 10 years ago.

Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Hassan Usman, told journalists at a briefing on the bank’s 10th anniversary in Abuja, yesterday, that the bank was able to break even within three years of its operations and has since then maintained a growth trajectory.

According to him, the bank has recorded an average of 30 per cent growth Year-on-Year and a 40 percent profitability Year-on-year; while increasing its branches from the initial three to the current 45.

He stated that the bank invested N75 billion in providing about 3,000 houses and another N60 billion in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, with beneficiaries cutting across urban and rural areas.

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His words: “Jaiz as a pioneer has proved that the concept of non-interest banking is workable even in the Nigerian environment.  We have more interests now in this sector by individuals and corporate organizations.  Even the public sector has embraced the non-interest business model, in order to derive the benefits associated with the system.

“Jaiz Bank started with only three branches in 2012.  Today, we have more than 45 branches spread across Nigeria. In the first year, the balance sheet was just N12 billion.  By the end of 2021, our balance sheet had grown to N300 billion.

“At the beginning, we were more of a corporate banking in terms of our bank’s offering, but now we have diversified the products offering from corporate to SMEs and even in some cases we experimented with micro because of our mission of making life better for Nigerians.

“Over the years, we have experimented with the people at the bottom of the pyramid, especially women, by providing equity type of financing for them to develop their small businesses so that the household income would improve and the welfare of the family be appreciated, with the children of those families benefiting as we see better enrolment of those children in school.”

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