- Apapa Gridlock: Transport Operators, Others Lament Rising Cost of Business
The current gridlock resulting from the congestion at the nation’s premier seaports, Tin Can Island and Apapa ports in Lagos, has pushed haulage cost up by about 900 per cent.
Our correspondent gathered from the Secretary, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Tin Can Island, Haulage Section, Mr Godwin Ikeji, that the cost of loading trucks from Alaba, Lagos, which hitherto was N40,000 had risen to N400,000.
Also lamenting the impact of the situation on exports, the President, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria, Dr Victor Iyama, told our correspondent that exporters were paying heavily due to the rising cost of transportation and delays in shipment.
He said, “Goods spend two to three weeks to get to the port and when they get there, the shipment is delayed.
“It affects the quality and value of the goods in the international market because products that stay in a container for two weeks are bound to be subjected to moisture and some other damaging conditions.”
Iyama expressed hope that the government would respond to the situation by facilitating air cargo shipment and making funds available to exporters.
While speaking during his state of the economy press briefing on Thursday, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, raised concerns about what he described as unbearable the cost of doing businesses resulting from the Apapa gridlock.
He said, “The gridlock in the Apapa axis of Lagos State has imposed and continues to impose unbearable cost on businesses. The dysfunctional state of the ports and associated logistics for cargo clearing has become a nightmare.
“The cost to business is horrendous. This includes the astronomical increase in haulage cost, increased interest on borrowed funds used for import transaction, high demurrage charges, high insurance premium of vessels coming to Nigeria, high shipping cost, low capacity utilisation due to problem of access to raw materials from port as well as traffic congestion, which has extended to the metropolis.”
He maintained that the situation was a reflection of the several years of neglect of the ports and other infrastructure.
He added, “We appreciate the recent intervention by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode. We also note the decision of the Federal Executive Council to award N72bn contract to fix the road leading from Lagos ports to the toll gate. We commend this move and urge that it be followed through to completion.”
He added, “We like to however reiterate that these measures need to be holistic, decisive, consistent and sustainable. The rail system needs to work; the capacity of the ports needs to be expanded; the pipelines for transportation of petroleum products need to be made functional and the tank farms need to be better dispersed.
“We need to urgently restore order and sanity to the Lagos ports and improve access to them. It is regrettable that Lagos port which is the major source of Customs revenue has to suffer the kind of deterioration and challenges that are currently taking place.”
The traffic congestion in the Apapa area has been compounded by ongoing rehabilitation work. The Nigerian Ports Authority, Dangote Group and the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing are jointly handling the rehabilitation work estimated to cost N4.34bn.
US Senate Passes $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package
US Senate Passes $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package
President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan would have far-reaching effects on society as the country tries to turn the corner on a pandemic that has killed more than half a million people in the United States.
The mammoth bill approved by the Senate on Saturday would provide direct payments to Americans, extend jobless benefits and provide a huge financial infusion to states and local governments as well as to schools to help them reopen. It provides funding for priorities like coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution. And it amounts to an ambitious antipoverty program, offering significant benefits for low-income people.
Here’s a guide to what’s included in the plan, which is scheduled to go before the House for final approval on Tuesday and then would head to Mr. Biden for his signature.
The bill would give out $1,400 stimulus checks.
Individuals making under $75,000 and married couples making under $150,000 would receive direct payments of $1,400 per person. The bill would also provide $1,400 per dependent.
The payments would gradually decrease above those income levels and disappear entirely above an income cap: $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples.
Those caps were lowered from the thresholds in the House’s version of the stimulus plan, which set the cutoffs at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for married couples.
The current $300-per-week boost to unemployment benefits would continue.
The Senate bill extends unemployment programs through early September, including the $300-per-week federal supplement provided in the last stimulus plan passed in December.
Mr. Biden had proposed bumping up that supplemental benefit to $400 per week, which the House agreed to, but the Senate kept it at $300 weekly.
The Senate bill also includes a provision intended to avert surprise tax bills for people who lost jobs, waiving federal income taxes for the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 for households earning under $150,000.
The child tax credit would become more generous, among other benefits.
For 2021, the bill would temporarily expand the child tax credit, which is currently worth up to $2,000 per child under 17. Under the legislation, the tax credit would be as much as $3,600 for children up to age 5 and as much as $3,000 for children 6 to 17.
The bill would make the full value of the credit available to low-income people who are currently ineligible or receive only a portion. And for the second half of this year, it would have the federal government send advance payments of the credit to Americans in periodic installments, akin to a guaranteed income for families with children.
The legislation would also expand the child and dependent care tax credit for 2021, and it would expand the earned-income tax credit for workers without children for this year as well. Through 2025, it would exempt student loan forgiveness from income taxes.
Money would go to fight the pandemic and to help states, local governments and schools.
The bill would provide funding for vaccine distribution as well as coronavirus testing, contact tracing and genomic sequencing. It would give money to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well.
It would provide $350 billion for states, local governments, territories and tribal governments, and it contains about $130 billion for schools. It also includes funding for colleges and universities, transit agencies, housing aid, child care providers and food assistance.
In addition, the bill contains funding to help businesses, including restaurants and live venues, and it includes a bailout for multiemployer pension plans that are financially troubled.
The Affordable Care Act would get a boost.
The bill would temporarily increase subsidies for people purchasing health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. It includes billions of dollars for public health programs and veterans’ health care.
It also seeks to help those who have lost jobs keep the health insurance coverage they had through their employer, covering the full cost of premiums through a federal program called COBRA through September.
One thing missing: a minimum wage hike.
As part of the stimulus plan, Mr. Biden wanted to raise the federal minimum wage, which is now $7.25 per hour, to $15 per hour.
The stimulus bill passed by the House would increase the wage to $15 per hour by 2025, but the Senate parliamentarian said the provision violated the strict rules that Senate Democrats had to follow to pass the bill through a special process that shielded it from a filibuster and allowed for its approval with only Democratic support. A vote in the Senate on Friday to add the wage increase back to the bill failed.
The Senate bill also dropped funding for a rail project in Silicon Valley in Northern California and a bridge between upstate New York and Canada, two provisions that were included in the House bill and drew criticism from Republicans.
Seplat Petroleum Pays US$564.165 Million to Federal Government in 2020
Seplat Petroleum, an indigenous Nigerian upstream exploration and production company, announced it paid a total sum of US$564.165 million to the Federal Government in 2020.
In the report on payments made available to the Nigerian Stock Exchange and seen by Investors King, Seplat Petroleum paid US$389.576 million to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as production entitlement in 2020.
Production entitlement is the government’s share of production in the period under review from projects operated by Seplat.
This comprises crude oil and gas attributable to the Nigerian government by virtue of its participation as an equity holder in projects within its sovereign jurisdiction (Nigeria).
Also, Seplat paid US$130.009 million to the Department of Petroleum Resources in 2020. A breakdown of the amount showed US$111.633 million was paid as royalties while US$18.376 million was paid as fees.
Similarly, US$579,361 was paid as a fee to the Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme.
The energy company made another payment of US$17.935 million in fee for 2020.
While the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board received US$4.826 million in fee from Seplat in 2020.
Seplat paid US$21.239 million in taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service in 2020.
Therefore, Seplat Petroleum paid a total sum of US$564.165 million to the Federal Government in the 2020 financial year. See the details below.
FIRS Sets N5.9 Trillion Revenue Target for 2021
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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