- Businesses Groan as Lagos Roads Suffer Despite High IGR
Businesses in Lagos State, the nation’s commercial capital, have been hard hit by the poor condition of roads in many parts of the state, leaving stakeholders such as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry worried.
Last week, a petrol tanker was reported to have fallen at a bad portion of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway at Ojo Barracks Bus-Stop, leading to an explosion that killed two persons and destroyed six vehicles, including a truck conveying generators to the Alaba International Market.
Stakeholders, who spoke with our correspondent in separate interviews on Tuesday, lamented that many roads had worsened in the state despite the high internal revenue generated by the government.
In May last year, the Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade, said based on the first quarter results, the state achieved an average monthly Internally Generated Revenue of N34bn in 2018, compared to monthly averages of N22bn, N24bn and N30bn in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.
“Lagos’ IGR, when compared with other states, is relatively high. Her IGR as of the end of 2016 was N287bn, higher than its 2015 level of N268.2bn,” BudgIT said in the 2018 edition of its ‘State of States’ report.
It said Lagos accounted for approximately 35.86 per cent of the total IGR collected by states in 2017.
The National President, Association of Small Business Owners, Dr Femi Egbesola, said the bad roads in the state had negative impacts on business activities.
He said, “Lagos roads these days have become so deplorable that where you usually spend 30 minutes, you can spend one and a half hours now. That is a massive waste of time and human capacity.”
“The government needs to put more than usual attention to infrastructure. Some people are very reluctant to pay tax because they believe that the government is not doing anything that is worthy of paying taxes. We have a lot of abandoned road projects in Lagos and other states in the country.”
According to him, the Mainland, especially the interiors, has a lot of deplorable roads.
“Apart from the IGR, the state has got a lot of loans for roads and other infrastructures. Lagos needs to remember that it is already a metropolitan state and must set the pace for others,” Egbesola added.
The Director-General, LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, described road infrastructure as a major issue in the cost of operation of businesses.
He said, “This economy, whether it is at the state or national level, is dependent almost 90 per cent on roads for logistics – moving of persons and goods. So, to that extent, the shortcomings with our road infrastructure, whether they are bad, inadequate or have a capacity problem, affect the cost of operation.
“Transportation cost is a major component of the costs of many products in the country; and once your cost begins to go up, it affects your competitiveness, profit margin and capacity to sustain your business. It can affect your sales because if you want to transfer the cost to the consumers and your price is too high, the consumers will resist, depending sometimes on the kind of products that you are selling.”
According to Yusuf, many densely-populated areas in Lagos such as Badagry and Abule-Egba are contending with the issue of quality of roads.
He said, “It is tedious going to and coming out of those places. So, those areas require the government’s attention. Some of the roads are not maintained properly, while some have gone bad.
“I think the bigger issue with Lagos is not so much about the state of the road, but the capacity of the roads vis-à-vis the volume of vehicles, especially at peak period.”
An economist and Senior Lecturer, Lagos Business School, Dr Bongo Adi, said, “The major constraint to doing business in Lagos, apart from electricity, is logistics, which includes transportation and connectivity.”
He, however, noted that over the years, there had been some progress in terms of maintenance of roads in Lagos, with some roads currently undergoing repairs.
Adi said, “But we haven’t seen much in terms of expansion. It is not just the problem of bad roads; even if you fix all the roads in Lagos today, we will still be having a transportation issue.”
“In terms of IGR, Lagos ranks the highest in Nigeria. In terms of fiscal sustainability, I think it is only Lagos that can sustain itself; but that has not translated into adequate infrastructure generally.”
Adi stressed the need for political will to expand the road network and ensure standard roads in the state.
When contacted, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Adebowale Akinsanya, told our correspondent that the government had embarked on rehabilitation of the major and inner roads across the state.
“We just finished the first phase, and we are now embarking on the second phase. That is a comprehensive work ongoing,” he added.
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.
Gov Emmanuel Attracts $1.4b Fertilizer Plant to Akwa Ibom
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.
ICPC Says Nigeria Loses $10bn to Illicit Financial Flows
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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