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Fuel Price: Don’t Test Our Resolve, NLC Warns FG

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  • Fuel Price: Don’t Test Our Resolve, NLC Warns FG

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the federal government against testing the resolve of workers and other Nigerians by contemplating an increase in the prices of petroleum products.

The congress also backtracked on its earlier support for the plan by the Buhari administration to borrow about $29 billion, saying the government should instead pursue and recover stolen government funds and use same to fund infrastructural development

Speaking at the opening of its National Executive Council meeting in Sokoto, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, expressed concern over ongoing media campaign and contradictory statements from the NNPC and government officials on the rumoured plan to increase the pump price of petrol.

He said the congress was totally opposed to any form of increase in prices of petrol as such an act would further increase the sufferings of Nigerians, adding that congress would mobilise Nigerians to resist any such increase.

Wabba said: “While Nigerians are still struggling to cope with the severe hardship imposed on them by the last increase in the price of petroleum products, there are ongoing media campaigns and contradictory statements by the NNPC and government officials on yet another plan to review the template for the pricing of petroleum products.

“We are totally opposed to any further increases as we are yet to see the benefits of the last increase even as the current Minimum Wage Act has not been reviewed.

“It would amount to unleashing further hardship on workers and the poor if any further price increase is allowed.

“The government must not take us for granted. Indeed, the patience and perseverance of the entire populace must not be taken for granted, as we will sure mobilise the entire citizenry for mass protests in addition to other legitimate actions to resist any further increase.

“What is urgently required of government is not another increase but a downward review of the current pump price of petroleum products.

“The current National Minimum Wage Act has long elapsed, and as you are already aware, we have long submitted our proposal for a review but Government seems not in a haste to recognise the urgency in attending to our demands.

“Nigerian workers and pensioners are as important to the growth of the economy and must not be allowed to continue to suffer further hardships.

“We therefore reiterate our call on government to treat the review of the minimum wage and pension with the utmost urgency they deserve.”

While commending the Federal Government in its sustained battle against corruption and determination to ensure good governance in our country, Wabba said the battle should be more systemic and institutionalised with strong laws and institutions strengthened enough to sustain the battle, adding that “our country has been seriously harmed both in image and resources by the impunity with which public funds were looted for decades such that what we need is beyond a flash in the pan approach.

“We will support government in all areas that will promote good governance at all levels and all facets of the Nigerian society as long as it sustains its commitment to delivering people-driven governance that will promote decency and growth in all spheres of our socio economic and political endeavour.

“But we will not support the plan by the Federal Government to borrow more money from anywhere as we obviously have enough to attend to our immediate needs.

“For instance, if the government vigorously pursues those in possession of our collective wealth, especially multinationals who have refused to remit funds meant for corporate Nigeria, we would have enough to rejuvenate the economy and the quality of the lives of our people.

“NEITI has already been quoted to have discovered that $22 billion (twenty-two billion dollars) has not been remitted by multinational firms to the federation account. This amount alone can take care of some of the areas any new loan is expected to be expended on.

“If we must borrow, perhaps such borrowings, on terms strictly not against our collective interests and in particular not designed to deepen our debt burden, it should be directed towards revitalising rail transportation and roads and not for servicing remunerations or tastes of public office holders.

“Loans must have specific targets in public interest and strictly directed to their original uses; that is if we must take any at all.

“We are also opposed to the idea of giving public funds to bail out commercial banks or interests, especially the recent proposal to give out $7 billion as bailout funds to commercial banks without any repayment schedule whatsoever.

“While we also support the need for budget reform, we urge the government to ensure that the process is all inclusive, transparent, accountable and in line with the principle of good governance.

“Once more, we urge government to be very careful with the process of economic reforms and development as it has become clearer around the world that neo-liberal prescriptions handed troubled economies have not been of any help but rather further unleashed mass poverty and infrastructural decay on recipient countries and their citizens.

“The prescriptions only generate massive wealth for the tiny few rich while devastating the quality of lives of the citizens.

“Indeed, a prominent report by Forbes has alarmed that ‘unless it changes, capitalism will starve humanity by 2050’.

“We should not be seen to be accepting alien economic recovery policies that have been proven to be responsible for our problems in the first instance, as all previous prescriptions from the Breton Woods institutions have only ended up destroying our economy and impoverishing our people.

“We have enough intellectual capacity in our country that can develop people-driven policies that is truly rooted in our specific circumstance for the recovery of our economy.”

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

FIRS Sets N5.9 Trillion Revenue Target for 2021

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FIRS to Generate N5.9 Trillion Revenue  in 2021

Mohammed Nami, the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, on Friday said the agency is projecting total revenue of N5.9 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year.

Nami stated this while meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Finance led by Hon. James Falake on the Service’s 2021 budget defence of its proposed Revenue and Expenditure Estimates.

According to the Chairman, N4.26 trillion and N1.64 trillion were expected to come from non-oil and oil components, respectively.

However, Nami put the cost of collecting the projected revenue at N289.25 billion or 7 percent of the proposed total revenue for the year, higher than the N180.76 billion spent in 2020 to fund the three operational expenditure heads for the year.

He said: “Out of the proposed expenditure of N289.25 billion across the three expenditure heads, the sum of N147.08 billion and N94.97 billion are to be expended on Personnel and Overhead Costs against 2020 budgeted sum of N97.36 billion and N43.64 billion respectively. Also, the sum of N47.19 billion is estimated to be expended on capital items against the budgeted sum of N27.80 billion in 2020. The sum is to cater for on-going and new projects for effective revenue drive.

Speaking on while the agency failed to meet its 2020 target, Nami said “There’s lockdown effect on businesses, implementation directive also for us to study, research best practices on tax administration which involves travelling to overseas and we also have to expand offices and create offices more at rural areas to get closer to the taxpayers, we pay rent for those offices and this could be the reason why all these things went up.

“And if you have more staff surely, their salary will go up, taxes that you’re going to pay on their behalf will go up, the National Housing Fund contribution, PENCOM contribution will go up. Those promoted you have to implement a new salary regime for them. There’s also the issue of inflation and exchange rate differential”, he said.

 

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Economy

Gov Emmanuel Attracts $1.4b Fertilizer Plant to Akwa Ibom

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The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has signed an agreement for the citing of a multi billion fertilizer plant in his State.

Governor Emmanuel was part of a Nigerian delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, that visited Morocco to set out the next steps of the $1.4 Bln fertilizer production plant project launched in June 2018.

The agreement between the OCP Africa, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and the Akwa Ibom State Government will birth one of the biggest investments in the fertilizer production industry worldwide.

The signing ceremony took place at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UMP6).

Mr. Emmanuel signed one of the agreements of the partnership, which covers a memorandum of understanding between OCP Africa, the Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria and the NSIA on land acquisition, administrative facilitation, and common agricultural development projects in the Akwa Ibom State.

Speaking while signing the agreement, Governor Emmanuel said, “Our state is receptive to investments and we are prepared to offer the necessary support to make the project a reality.

“With a site that is suitably located to enable operational logistics and an abundance of gas resources, all that is left is for the parties to accelerate the project development process”, Mr. Udom said.

The agreement reached between the Nigerian Government and the OCP further links OCP, Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), the NNPC, the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN), and the NSIA.

The two partners agreed to strengthen further their solid partnership leveraging Nigerian gas and the Moroccan phosphate.

This project will lead to a multipurpose industrial platform in Nigeria, which will use Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate to produce 750,000 tons of ammonia and 1 million tons of phosphate fertilizers annually by 2025.

The visit of the Nigerian delegation to Morocco takes place within the frame of the partnership sealed between OCP Group and the Nigerian Government to support and develop Nigeria’s agriculture industry.

Following the success of the first phase of Nigeria‘s Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and the progress of the fertilizer production plant project launched in 2018 by OCP and NSIA, the Moroccan phosphates group and the Nigerian government delegation have agreed on the next steps of their joint project which is rapidly taking shape.

Several cooperation agreements were inked on Tuesday at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) by OCP Africa and the Nigerian delegation. Through these deals, OCP reaffirms its unwavering support of agricultural development initiatives in Nigeria including PFI.

OCP Africa and the NSIA have agreed, inter alia, to set up a joint venture which will oversee the development of the industrial platform that will produce ammonia and fertilizers in Nigeria.

The OCP has also pledged to supply Nigerian famers with quality fertilizers adapted to the needs of their soil at competitive prices and produced locally.

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Economy

ICPC Says Nigeria Loses $10bn to Illicit Financial Flows 

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says Nigeria accounts for 20 per cent or 10 billion dollars (N3.8 trillion) of the estimated 50 billion dollars that Africa loses to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).

Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said this during a virtual meeting to review a report on IFFs in relation to tax, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, spokesperson for ICPC, said in a statement released in Abuja on Friday.

The ICPC Chairman said, “the African Union Illicit Financial Flow Report estimated that Africa is losing nearly 50 billion dollars through profit shifting by multinational corporations and about 20 per cent of this figure is from Nigeria alone.”

The ICPC boss explained that taxes played “very strategic role in the nation’s political economy.”

He said the objective of the meeting was to improve on the awareness on IFFs, especially in the areas of taxation.

The ICPC boss added that the meeting would give participants the opportunity to openly discuss how to effectively use the instrumentality of taxation to curb IFFs through risk-based approach.

“Risk-based approach, that is: monitoring and audit; due process in tax collection; structured tax amnesty framework skewed in public interest; data privacy; timely resolution of audits and payment of tax refunds and intelligence sharing among revenue generating, regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Owasanoye also stated that for the contemporary tax man to remain relevant, he must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.

The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mr Muhammad Nani, expressed concerns that IFFs posed a serious threat to the Nigerian economy as the act robbed the nation of resources that were needed for development.

Nani declared that tackling IFFs would expand the country’s tax base and improve revenue generation, which was required for development.

He consequently pushed for policy reforms that would make it difficult for “capital flights” from occurring so that the country would be placed on the path of growth.

Other discussants at the event identified weak regulatory framework, opacity of financial system and lack of capacity amongst others as some of the factors that fuelled IFFs.

The discussants emphasised the need for capacity building of relevant stakeholders as one of the ways to stamp out illicit financial flows.

They commended ICPC for leveraging its corruption prevention mandate to open a new vista in IFFs discourse in Nigeria. (NAN)

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