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We’ve quietly removed electricity subsidy, fuel subsidy to follow – FG

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has revealed how the Federal Government quietly removed the subsidy on electricity tariff. She said the government had to carefully adjust the prices incrementally at some levels.

Speaking on Thursday at a virtual meeting of African Finance Ministers and the International Monetary Fund, Ahmed also said the amendment of the budget was ongoing to accommodate the incremental removal of fuel subsidy. The theme of the meeting was ‘The political economy of fiscal reforms’.

Ahmed said, “We are cleaning up our subsidies. We had a setback; we were to remove fuel subsidy by July this year but there was a lot of pushback from the polity. We have elections coming and because of the hardship that companies and citizens went through during the COVID-19 pandemic, we just felt that the time was not right, so we pulled back on that.

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“But we have been able to quietly implement subsidy removal in the electricity sector and as we speak, we don’t have subsidies in the electricity sector. We did that incrementally over time by carefully adjusting the prices at some levels while holding the lower levels down.

She said fuel subsidy remained a huge problem for the government as it had thrown up deficits more than what was planned. She noted that the rise in global oil prices would worsen the issue “but the current review that we are doing is to hold the subsidy at the level in which it is planned,” she said.

Ahmed added, “We are currently doing a budget amendment to accommodate incremental subsidy (removal) as a result of the reversal of the decision and we want to cap it at that. Hopefully, the parliament will agree with us and we are able to continue with our plan for subsidy (removal) otherwise the way things are going we will not be able to predict where the deficit will be as a result of the fluctuation in the global market.”

She stated further that the government was improving tax administration and compliance by adopting technology so as to increase revenue.

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New agreements with IOCs will unlock opportunities in upstream sector, says Kyari

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Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mele Kyari

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has said the signing of the new Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) is a key milestone achievement which will unlock opportunities within the Nigeria upstream sector.

It noted that the execution of the PSCs would deepen investment and development of Nigeria’s rich petroleum resources and ensure that the trifold mandate of the NNPC Ltd to ensure energy availability, sustainability, and accessibility was achieved.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mele Kyari stated this during the signing of agreements with international oil companies in Abuja on Friday.

In a bid to increase the production of crude oil in the country and increase revenue, the NNPC Ltd and international oil companies operating in Nigeria had signed various agreements.

The agreements would see the production of about 10 billion barrels of crude oil and generation of over $500bn revenue to all parties involved.

NNPC officials and their counterparts from the IOCs including Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Sinopec, Sapetro, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, among others, renewed their agreements in five Oil Mining Leases that included OMLs 128, 130,132, 133, and 138.

The agreements renewed by the parties were Production Sharing Contracts, as well as Dispute Resolution Agreements, among others at a signing ceremony held at the Abuja headquarters of NNPC.

Speaking at the event, Kyari said: “The signing of the new PSCs is a key milestone achievement by NNPC Ltd which would ultimately unlock opportunities within the Nigeria upstream sector.

“The execution of the PSCs will deepen investment and development of Nigeria’s rich petroleum resources and ensure that the trifold mandate of the NNPC Ltd to ensure energy availability, sustainability, and accessibility is achieved.

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“Ultimately, the new PSCs will provide an inflow of Foreign Direct Investment, expanded access to affordable energy, job creation and socio-economic development.”

The NNPC Ltd chief explained that the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 gave NNPC the legal backing to renegotiate all its existing PSCs in conformance to the provisions of the new Act within a one-year period.

The PIA became law on August 16, 2021 after it was signed into law the same day by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The PIA in Section 311(2) stipulated that new PSC agreements under new Heads of Terms will be signed between NNPC Ltd as concessionaire and its contractor parties within one year of signing the PIA into law, giving a deadline of August 15, 2022.

The NNPC Ltd chief noted that this provision paved the way for the resolution of lingering disputes which created investment uncertainty and stifled new investments in the nation’s deep offshore assets.

According to him, the NNPC leveraged on the near end term of the PSCs and the parties’ interest to renew the PSCs as a negotiation currency in bringing the contractors to work towards trading the past for the future.

“These renewed PSCs would provide several benefits such as improved long-term relationships with contractors, elimination of contractual ambiguities especially in relation to gas terms, enable early contract renewal, among others,” he stated.

The Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services, Bala Wunti, who spoke during the signing, said: “Cumulatively we hope to produce and monetise over 10 billion barrels of oil with these signatures that we had today.

“And this by no means will give significant revenue for all the parties. We expect over $500bn of revenue for all the stakeholders.”

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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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