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FG Engages Experts to Track Tax Evaders’ Assets

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  • FG Engages Experts to Track Tax Evaders’ Assets

The Federal Government has engaged an asset recovery firm to track the exact assets of tax defaulters that fail to take advantage of its nine months amnesty period under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme.

The VAIDs programme offers a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 for tax defaulters to voluntarily pay back what they owe to the government.

In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties and interest that should have been paid by the defaulters on overdue tax.

Also, those who declare honestly will not be subjected to any investigation or tax audit after the grace period.

Nigeria is said to have one of the lowest tax compliance rates in the world with a tax-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio currently standing at six per cent.

Top government officials involved in the implementation of VAIDS confided in our correspondent that those who might fail to take advantage of the scheme and later found to have under-declared their incomes or assets would be treated as wilful tax evaders and face the full wrath of the law.

The official said apart from prosecution, the government had agreed to provide the public with identities of tax evaders under a “name and shame programme” after the expiration of the nine-month amnesty period.

The official said, “Specifically, we have engaged one of the world’s leading asset tracking and recovery firms who will track the true assets of those who have not participated but are believed to have underpaid their taxes.

“This will be supported by criminal prosecution, and recovery of taxes due with full penalties and interest. In addition, we plan a ‘Name and Shame’ programme that will reveal the identities of tax evaders.”

Furthermore, the official said the Federal Inland Revenue Service was currently profiling some categories of non-compliant taxpayers for ongoing audits and investigations, in line with the tax compliance reforms.

He urged taxpayers to make the most of the limited-time opportunity available under the scheme to declare their incomes and assets, and pay their outstanding taxes.

Attempts to get comments from the spokesperson for the FIRS, Mr. Wahab Gbadamosi, were not successful as calls and a text message sent to his telephone were not responded to.

The Federal Government on Thursday commenced a campaign to drive the rate of voluntary tax compliance in the country in order to boost the level of revenue generated through taxes.

The campaign, which was launched at the headquarters of the ministry of finance in Abuja, saw top officials in the ministry as well as the FIRS visiting markets and other popular places within the Federal Capital Territory to sensitise the people to the need for voluntary tax compliance.

The awareness campaign is part of measures to implement last week’s directive issued by Acting President Prof Yemi Osinbajo that every Thursday should be celebrated as a tax day to sensitise Nigerians to the benefits of taxation.

The Chairman, FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, who led the campaign in Abuja, said the tax awareness programme would be taken to all the 36 states of the federation.

He said that the campaign would continue for the next one year as declared by Osinbajo at the launch of the VAIDS.

He was optimistic that the campaign would raise the level of tax awareness and result in massive enrolment of new tax payers.

Fowler said, through the programme, the Federal Government hoped to bring fresh four million taxpayers into the tax net as well as increase the level of payment among the 14 million already registered taxpayers.

He said, “The only way we can make Nigeria sweet is to start paying our taxes. We have come out with the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme programme, which gives everybody the opportunity to come out and declare their income and pay their contribution to ensure that Nigeria becomes a better place.

“I’m sure that if we all contribute, Nigeria will become the Nigeria of our dreams, the Nigeria that is prosperous and conducive to live in. Let’s join hands together to realise this dream by paying taxes.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

India, Spain, the Netherlands, USA, Nigeria’s Major Export Markets -NBS

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India, Spain and the Netherland top Nigeria’s export markets in the final quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The Commodity Price Indices and Terms of Trade Q4 2020 report showed that the United States and China trailed the three.

However, the NBS revealed Nigeria exports mainly crude oil and natural gas during the period under review.

It, “The major export and import market of Nigeria in Q4 2020 were India, Spain, the Netherlands, United States and China.

“The major export to these countries were crude petroleum and natural gas. The major imports from the countries were motor spirits, used vehicles, motorcycles and antibiotics.”

The bureau stated that the all-commodity group import index increased by 0.13 per cent between October and December 2020.

This was driven mainly by an increase in the prices of base metals and articles of base metals (one per cent), boilers, machinery and appliances; parts thereof (1.03 per cent), and products of the chemical and allied industries (0.75 per cent),” it stated.

The NBS, however, noted that the index was negatively affected by animal and vegetable fats and oils and other cleavage products.

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Economy

Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy

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The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.

Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.

The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.

According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.

Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.

The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.

He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.

‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”

Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.

Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.

‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.

Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.

Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.

The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.

Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.

According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.

The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.

He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.

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Economy

France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership

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France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.

Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.

A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.

“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”

It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.

It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.

It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.

It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”

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