- Customs Want 35% Levy on Vehicle Importation Reduced
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (retd.) has called on the Federal Government to reduce the 35 per cent levy on imported vehicles so as to check the rising cases of smuggled vehicles into the country.
Ali said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the unveiling of a Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative which was held at the Ministry of Finance.
He said already the Nigeria Customs Service had made a proposal to the Ministry of Finance on the need for a reduction in the 35 per cent levy on imported vehicles.
Ali said currently, any new vehicle imported into the country attracted an import duty of 35 per cent and an additional levy of 35 per cent.
This, he noted, brought the total duty payable on such a vehicle to about 70 per cent.
He described the 70 per cent being charged by the government as high, adding that time had come for it to be reduced.
In achieving this, he said, the government could still retain the 35 per cent import duty while the additional 35 per cent levy could be tinkered by bringing it downwards.
He said, “First, we must understand the fact that smuggling in most cases did not really occur because of the tariff that is placed on goods in Nigeria.
“When we talk about vehicles, yes, new vehicles attract 70 per cent duty; that is 35 per cent duty and 35 per cent levy but most of the vehicles that are being smuggled through our borders are not new vehicles, they are used vehicles.
“And the value is calculated based on the year of make and other attributes. So, the motivating factor that gets people to move these goods to our neighbouring countries is with the sole aim of smuggling them into Nigeria.
He added, “The 35 per cent is a baseline which is the duty, but the 35 per cent levy is what we think should be tinkered with.
“We should be able to reduce that to a level that it would be affordable. 70 per cent is on the high side, there is no doubt about that for new vehicles but we cannot touch the baseline of the tax regime.”
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who unveiled the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative, said that the government was concerned about the inability of some of its agencies to meet their revenue target.
She admitted that it had become a challenge for the government to mobilise fiscal resources to deliver on its developmental objectives, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that revenue generation needed to be enhanced.
According to her, while oil revenue to oil Gross Domestic Product ratio stands at about 39 per cent, non-oil revenue to non-oil GDP is about 4.2 per cent.
He said the country’s Value Added Tax revenue to GDP stood at less than one per cent, adding that this was low when compared to the ECOWAS average of 3.4 per cent.
In terms of excise revenue, she said at 4.1 per cent, revenue generated from excise duty in Nigeria was low compared to Ghana at 15.3 per cent and Kenya at 19.5 per cent.
She said, “Nigeria’s low revenue generation capabilities have been an enduring challenge to past and present governments.
“Although, we are celebrated as the country in Africa with the largest economy, translating this wealth into revenues remains a challenge.
“We have, therefore, face difficulty in mobilising domestic funds necessary for human capital development and infrastructure that are both drivers of sustainable economic growth.
“Our current revenue to Gross Domestic Product ratio of about seven per cent is unsatisfactory and we are keen on exerting all efforts in turning this around.”
Ahmed said she had tasked the Ministry of Finance and its agencies to identify what could be done to turn around the current revenue situation.
When asked when the planned increase in VAT would be implemented, the minister said a committee was currently looking at items that would be captured under the new VAT regime.
She said, “We are studying a possibility of a VAT increase but you also know that the increase of VAT requires an amendment of the law.
“First of all, the steering committee will look at the details; it is most likely the VAT increase will be selective. It will be on special items, so it won’t be across the board.
“I am sure you are already aware that there is a number of items that are VAT exempt such as food and drugs.
“There would be a VAT increase during the course of 2019; we would have clarity as to which items and what the rate would be and we would have to take a request to the National Assembly for amendment before it takes into effect.
“There is also going to be a luxury tax. Already, there is a luxury tax imposed on things like jets. There are few exceptional items that are classified as a luxury but we are contemplating increasing excise duties on carbonated drinks, just like we have excise duties now on tobacco and on alcohol.
“But this is going to be a subject of study, because we have to identify which ones would be affected and the best way to apply in which to apply the taxes.”
United Kingdom Ordered Meta, Formerly Facebook, to Sell Giphy
The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has instructed Meta – formerly known as Facebook – to sell Giphy, the American search engine that allows users search for and share short looping videos which are without sound, that are similar to animated GIF files.
The CMA stated that the merger deal could possibly be harmful to social media users and advertisers in the UK. It also found that the deal would further boost Meta’s already strong market power, as it would limit other platforms’ ability to use Giphy GIFs, which will, in turn, drive more traffic to sites owned by Facebook (WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook).
According to the CMA, Meta’s sites dominated social media usage time up to around 73 percent, and could eventually outperform social media rivals like TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat by leveraging Giphy. The Authority then added that before the merger, Giphy had launched ”innovative advertising services” which brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Pepsi which it could possibly have brought to the United Kingdom.
The CMA also stated that at the time the merger was made, Giphy’s advertising services were terminated by Facebook. That move removed a vital part of potential opposition in the market. The CMA was concerned by this move, calling it particularly concerning considering that Facebook is in control of about half of the £7 billion display advertising market in the UK.
Facebook had acquired Giphy for a reported fee of $400 million, with an aim of integrating the service into Instagram. After a month, the CMA started an investigation into the merger and decided in August that Facebook could hinder social media rivals such as TikTok and Snapchat from tapping into Giphy’s GIFs.
Meta had initially stated that the CMA did not have jurisdiction because Giphy was not operational in the United Kingdom, adding later that Giphy’s paid services were not display advertising by the definition of the CMA.
In October, Meta was fined $70 million by the CMA for breaking some rules related to the deal by failing to report necessary information and changing its chief compliance officer on two different occasions without receiving permission.
Burger King Expands to Nigeria
Burger King, an American multinational chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, has opened its very first restaurant in Nigeria to deepen its growing brand, support new job creation and enhance economic productivity in Africa’s largest economy.
The United States Mission in Nigeria has praised the improving commercial ties between Nigeria and the United States as American franchises and branches set up shops in Nigeria. This has in turn created more jobs as well as investment opportunities in the country.
This was said by the US Mission Commercial Counselor, Jennifer Woods during her speech at the opening of the Burger King outlet in Nigeria. Woods underlined the impact which new businesses have on a country’s economy, especially with a popular franchise like Burger King opening in a developing market like Nigeria.
She said that being Africa’s largest economy and a large youth population with a strong connection to the world, American brands must look at Nigeria as a highly critical market. She went ahead to state that while the companies will benefit from the expansion into the country, Nigeria itself will also benefit largely from their presence in the country.
Woods also described the addition of another American-owned franchise (one that emphasizes a culture of excellence) will help to provide job opportunities as the business expands to new parts across the country. She praised the high level of interest by consumers and the passion which they have for the iconic American rapid service restaurant since it began its operations in early November.
The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila congratulated Burger King and all its local partners on the intriguing business deal, explaining it as another signal of the benefits of a close business relationship between the United States and Nigeria. He also stated that Burger King is expected to open hundreds of outlets across the country.
Burger King entered into an alliance with local firm, Allied Food & Confectionary Services Limited in order to bring the American brand into the Nigerian market. The Group Managing Director of Allied Food & Confectionary Services Limited, Antoine Zammarieh has prior experience bringing United States rapid service restaurants to Nigeria.
Panasonic Confirms Data Breach after Hacker Attack
Japanese tech giant Panasonic has affirmed that the company has been a victim of a data breach after some hackers were able to access the company’s internal network.
In a press release dated November 26, the company stated that its private network was illicitly accessed by a “third party” on November 11, and also stated that some data which was on a company file server had been retrieved during the breach.
However, a spokesperson for Panasonic, Dannea DeLisser stated that the data breach started on June 22, and ended on November 3. She also said that the very first unauthorized access was detected on November 11.
The company which is based in Osaka, Japan provided additional details about the breach. In the press release, the company said that although it is conducting its own investigation into the breach, it is also working with a third-party organization to investigate the data leak. The third party organization is also looking into whether or not the breach included personal information of customers or sensitive information which concerns social infrastructure.
Immediately the unauthorized access was discovered by the company, the incident was reported to the appropriate authorities who went ahead to set up some security countermeasures, which also contained steps to avert external access to the network. The company closed the statement by apologizing for concerns and inconveniences caused by the data breach.
This type of incident is not completely new to Panasonic, as just under a year ago Panasonic India faced a ransomware attack in which hackers leaked about 4 gigabytes of data, including email addresses and financial details.
The data breach also comes at a period when Japanese technology companies are facing waves of cyberattacks. NEC and Mitsubishi Electric were victims of hackers in 2020, and Olympus was also made to suspend operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East after being a victim of a ransomware attack.
The trend of cyberattacks in Japan is likely to reduce public faith in the company, especially since it has been hacked twice since last year.
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