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The FIRS nets N4.9tr revenue, launches contact centre

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FIRS

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), on Monday, unveiled its contact centre for taxpayers to access services of the agency by speaking with a call centre agent in various Nigerian languages to resolve identified challenges.

The Service has also collected N4.9 trillion in tax revenue from January 1 till date, stressing that it will henceforth go through the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to ensure that all government revenue is included in the accounting for taxes generated. The FIRS system will now simultaneously indicate the amounts invested by taxpayers in road infrastructure which is consistent with executive order 007. It would also show the tax waivers granted pioneer companies, import and excise duties waived through the operations of the Nigeria Customs and all other revenues generated by Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on behalf of the Federal, State and Local governments in Nigeria.

The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, made the disclosure in Abuja at a National Symposium on Taxation and Challenges of External Shocks: Lessons and Policy Options for Nigeria; organised by FIRS in conjunction with the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.

According to him, the above measures, when implemented, will align Nigeria with global best practices in reporting public finance and guarantee a more transparent and more accurate picture of the country’s Tax-to-GDP ratio.

He said it would also help ensure that all government revenue is included in the fiscal accounts and annual statistics of the FIRS.

The FIRS boss said: “For the country to achieve meaningful and sustainable growth in tax revenue, and minimize our dependence on oil revenue, there is the need for continuous reform of our operations and processes, of our human capital development, the adoption of technology, and the tax laws. These key areas have remained paramount to the current Board and Management of the Service. And the achievements we have recorded in improving and sustaining the revenue growth since 2020 to date irrespective of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 can be attributed to these reform initiatives”.

Earlier in his remarks, a David Adejoh, who represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said that the time has come for Nigeria to strongly harness all non-oil revenue sources, especially now that the rampaging COVID-19 pestilence has crashed the demand for petroleum products.

“We need to seek other sources of revenue besides oil to avoid a looming fiscal crisis that can decapitate the economy.

“I’m happy that the FIRS has collected N4.9 trillion since the beginning of the year, adding that 77% of the revenue was from non oil sources, while oil revenue is 23% of the sum.

“Tax Pro Max has really helped in revenue generation, but our tax to GDP ratio is still low at 6%; lower than some African countries and efforts should be made to improve it”, he added.

In her keynote address on Taxation and the Challenges of External Shocks: Lessons and Policy Options for Nigeria, a former Executive Chairman, FIRS, Mrs Ifueko Omogui Okauru urged the FIRS to allow companies self audit and remit the taxes they feel is appropriate, while the agency works out ways to ascertain whether the money was inadequate or not; rather than not getting anything while it slugs it out with recalcitrant debtors.

She also harped on economic diversification, saying Nigeria cannot continually depend on oil revenues.

“We need to deepen taxation in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. It makes it easier for your work in advocacy and all that.

“We can’t grow in isolation. Unify databases. Put in place a system to enable people to pay what they want to pay”, she stated.

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Capital investments: FG woos venture capitalists

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Ogbonnaya Onu

The minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya onu has called on entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and the business community to invest more capital, innovation and ideas into the development of science, technology and innovation in Nigeria.

The minister made the call during a breakfast meeting with Nigerian entrepreneurs in Lagos at the weekend.

The breakfast meeting between the Federal government and entrepreneurs/captains of industries is to create synergy on how more investment through the private sector can be utilized for the overall development of Science, Technology and Innovation for Nigeria’s socio-economic benefit.

Dr. Onu said that efforts of the Federal government to grow STI in the country haven’t been enough and the need for venture capitalists is crucial to the speedy development of the sector.

“Venture capitalists in the technologically developed countries, play the very important role of transforming ideas into goods, by taking the necessary risks. In the absence of venture capitalists, we need to involve our top rated entrepreneurs who are major risk takers in the development process. For so long we have been dealing with manufacturers, but we need to utilize the risk bearers who will constitute the major off-takers of the products of scientific research and innovation activities by our scientists all over the country”, he said.

The Minister further explained to the entrepreneurs that necessary legal and policy framework have been laid out to create the necessary conducive environment.

According to Dr. Onu, the business community is the most formidable member of the STI Ecosystem. In his words; “I am convinced that you constitute the most formidable member of the STI Ecosystem, and hence provide the best mechanism to transform existing research and development breakthroughs and findings to wealth through commercialization for industrial and services application.”

Dr. Onu informed the business community that the Ministry has been reformed to coordinate innovation activities in the country, adding that for the first time since independence all regulatory bodies in the country brought together, to ensure Nigerian goods and services are of global standards.

The Minister of state for Science, Technology and Innovation, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, said that the Ministry is looking forward to leverage on their wealth of experience in businesses towards better application of scientific research and development outcomes to value addition in Nigerian enterprises.

He added that All the Ministries agencies are ready to exhibit some of their R&D outcomes and breakthroughs.

Barr. Abdullahi noted that the agencies are expecting know their needs and look for best possible ways on how they can collaborate to achieve results. He added that they were open to receive advisory notes that would help them serve the general public better.

 Business guru, Pascal Dozie, who delivered a speech titled, “Building Strategic Partnership between Science, Technology and Innovation community and Nigerian Entrepreneurs”, said that the essence of the meeting was to foster effective collaboration among the critical stakeholders within the STI ecosystem that will lead to significant inclusive development and growth of Nigeria.

He expressed optimism that a robust framework for full commercialization of key innovations can be achieved. 

He noted the following points to ensure meaningful impact and sustainability of the objective:  The framework should be properly developed to ensure that the interests of the different stakeholders such as financiers, the innovators, regulators, communities should be properly considered to ensure sustainable and beneficial collaboration and outcomes; due to the diverse nature of innovations from various research institutes, it is important to do a proper segmentation and mapping of the innovations along sectorial lines.

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Nigeria can take lead for Electric Vehicles in Africa – Promise Emmanuel

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Promise Emmanuel

Promise Emmanuel, the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Chief Edward Onoja on Saturday, declared that Nigeria can take the lead for Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Africa.

Emmanuel made the declaration while delivering a presentation at TEDxBudon in Lokoja on the topic: The Nigerian Automobile Industry: The future of Electric Cars.

Emmanuel who is popularly known as ‘Kogi Rebel’ with the Instagram handle, @Kogi_rebel, stated that Nigeria is a very important market where EVs can thrive.

His words: ”As a country, Nigeria can take the lead for Electric Vehicles in Africa. But the market has not kickstarted because of lack of policy and regulation. Nigeria still has key structural issues that prevent the mass adoption of EVs.”

On how the government can create a suitable and holistic policy that will create the enabling environment for electric cars to be produced in the country, Emmanuel said:

”For the government to do this, there are several aspects of the Electric Vehicle Ecosystem and value chain that must be taken into consideration.

”There need to be sufficient and workable charging stations put in place before people buy EVs. Investors also need to know that there is a demand for EVs before they invest in the construction of charging stations across the country. Right now, there are too few EVs in the country to convince investors to key in.

”Another issue that can’t be overlooked is the lack of power supply. According to the US Department of Energy, most EV charging happens at home and not at the designated charging stations. So, how will Nigeria adopt the use of electric vehicles?

”Nigeria intends to adopt the fleet method of adoption of EVs, which involves individuals or businesses buying them and investing in charging stations. We have seen this with a few companies.

”This fleeting idea has been adopted by GIG logistics and delivery company, with its recent launch of an EV charging station in Gbagada, Lagos State. This fleeting system is beneficial as it will gradually encourage people to adapt to EVs before bigger investments.

”Nigerians also need answers to how much time and electricity it takes to fully charge these cars. For example, the Kona takes 10 hours to charge and has a power rating of the 7.2-kilowatt hour. This is a lot depending on the different parts of Nigeria. It can also be cheaper than fueling a petrol-powered car.

”But Nigeria has been known over the years to have a bad track record on electricity. Many areas and states can’t boast of 12 hours power supply, electricity isn’t constant and also very expensive. How then can Nigerians charge their EVs?

”For this mass adoption to be possible, there is a need for the government and investors can boost renewable energy in form of solar energy and make it affordable for people.”

He added that electric vehicles will be of great benefit to the country, saying:

”If adopted, will increase the quality of air, which in turn will improve the quality of life in Nigeria through reduced emission of Carbon monoxide gas from the exhaust pipes in cars.

”The advantage of electric vehicles will relieve the country of problems caused by fuel-powered cars including the increasing cost of petroleum.”

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Federal Government laments $1.3bn spent annually on dairy importation – Abubakar

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Muhammad Abubakar, has maintained that the Federal Government’s National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, is set to close dairy importation gap.

Abubakar stated this at a virtual meeting 36 State Commissioners of Agriculture and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, along with other stakeholders on the State Level Project Socialization on Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRES).

The Minister, represented by the Director, Animal Husbandry Services Department in the Ministry, Winnie Lai-Solarin, stated that the L-PRES programme is targeted to address low investment in the livestock sub-sector over the years.

He said: “A project to support the actualization of the NLTP is targeted at addressing the age-long low investment profile in the sub-sector to improve livestock productivity, resilience, and commercialization of selected value chains, as well as strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to crisis or emergency.

“The L-PRES project would facilitate the achievement of food security, reduce incessant conflict between farmers and herdsmen and cushion the effect of a COVID-19 Pandemic on the livestock industry in alignment with Government’s strategies and policies including, the promotion of climate smart livestock production and productivity, expansion of rural economy for employment and income generation, promotion of exports and reduction in the importation of livestock and livestock products, and Involvement empowerment of women, youth, and vulnerable people.

“The successful implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan will close importation gaps and address other challenges to livestock development in Nigeria.”

However, the Minister lamented $1.3 billion spent annually on dairy importation into the country.

“It is glaring with the current priorities in the World’s food supply systems, that the next issues of focus will be animal protein supply chains and its nexus with global welfare and security.

“Nations’ ability to provide good quality and affordable animal proteins has not only been linked with their pecuniary status, it has been confirmed to have direct relationship with human capital development and intellectual quotient.

“Although Nigeria Livestock subsector provides about 36.5% of the total protein intake of Nigerians, it also contributes about 8-10% of the Agricultural GDP and 5% of the National Gross Domestic Product and has been a key contributor to poverty reduction, especially in rural areas.”

“We are yet to take full advantage of the regional markets under our influence and have in recent times spent huge amounts of forex on importation of products that can be produced effortlessly in the country.

“Importation of dairy products where we spend about US$1.3 Billion annually according to the CBN (2019) is a prominent example of the above narrative”, he said.

Earlier in a goodwill message, the Country Director, World Bank, Dr Shubham Chadhri, said that the programme is designed to realize the full potential in the livestock sector in Nigeria, and urged state governments to key into it, while commending the Buhari-led administration for initiating the NLTP and its implementation.

Chadhri further stated that if the NLTP is properly implemented and sustained across the nation it would go a long way to reduce poverty, unemployment, and boost growth of the nation’s GDP.

He also assured World Bank’s commitment to partner with the Federal and State Governments for the realization of the L-PRES project in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, in a presentation on update of the L-PRES Project Preparation, Director, Animal Husbandry Services Department, Dr Winnie Lai- Solarin, made it known to State Commissioners and participants that the Federal Government and the World Bank are ready to have the project takeoff in 2022.

She also appealed to the State Governments to facilitate the project implementation by increasing their budgetary allocation for livestock development, giving adequate state counterpart financing and providing office spaces, vehicles, and other basic facilities to demonstrate their commitment and readiness to implement the project in their states.

According to her, 28 States and the FCT have expressed interest in the project, appealing to others to take advantage and identify with the project.

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