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Economy

FG Mulls 50% Hike in VAT, Others to Pay Minimum Wage

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  • FG Mulls 50% Hike in VAT, Others to Pay Minimum Wage

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Babatunde Fowler, on Tuesday said the Federal Government was considering an upward review of the Value Added Tax by 50 per cent.

Udoma and Fowler who stated this on Tuesday when they appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance, said the increment was to, among others, enable the Federal Government to fund the new national minimum wage.

Fowler said the proposed payable VAT by Nigerians based on the increment would actually be between 35 per cent (6.75%) and 50 per cent (7.25%)

The government is currently charging five per cent VAT on all products in the country

Udoma and Fowler were among the heads of the Federal Government agencies, who were in the Senate to explain the detail of the 2019-2021 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, which is expected to be the benchmark for the 2019 budget deliberations.

Fowler, who said the FIRS’ goal was to achieve an N8trn revenue generation target this year, also said the 50 per cent increment would affect the Company Income Tax and the Petroleum Profit Tax.

He said, “By the end of this year, we should be ready for an increase in VAT. A lot of Nigerians travel to Ghana and other West African countries and they can see that theirs is much higher. They pay when they go on those trips. We should be ready for an increase on VAT.

“I can certainly see an increase in VAT of at least 35 per cent to 50 per cent this year based on our enforcement activities. There certainly will be an increase in Company Income Tax and also on Petroleum Profit Tax.”

Fowler added that his agency had collated the detail of 34 million Nigerians that were captured in the BVN network with a view to assessing their compliance with the tax laws.

He added that the FIRS raked in N3.1trn in 2016, N4.03 in 2017 and N5.32tn in 2018 even as he expressed the hope it would surpass past records in 2019.

Fowler said the agency had increased VAT collection by 25 per cent in the last three years, but lamented that many of the firms that were collecting VAT were not remitting it.

“Nigerians should be ready for an increase in VAT with at least by 35 to 50 per cent this year. Nigerians travel to other countries and they pay more on tax”

Udoma also told the panel headed by Senator John Owan-Enoh, that the Technical Advisory Committee on the minimum wage, would submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari this week.

He said, “Recall that as a result of agitations from unions, the President set up a tripartite committee to look at the minimum wage.

“Every five years, it is supposed to be reviewed. It has not been reviewed even though there is no doubt that for both the Federal Government and states, it is a tough time to review wages. But the N18, 000 is really too low and it is difficult for people to live on N18, 000.

“The President supported a review, but it is important that as we are reviewing (the minimum wage), we make sure that it can be funded that is why we set up the Bismark Rewane Technical Committee.

“We will be coming to you. There may be some changes maybe in VAT and other things. But we will be coming to you in order to make sure that we can fund the minimum wage.

“So it is something we are going to work closely with the finance committee on how best this minimum wage will be addressed, both from the Federal Government and the states to ensure that the whole government apparatus is not just paying salaries and nothing else.

“It is important that we are able to pay the minimum wage and still have enough resources to do infrastructure. The committee has virtually completed its work”

He added that the Federal Government would intensify efforts in its assets recovery drive and would also challenge revenue generation agencies like the FIRS and the Nigeria Customs Service to boost their operations.

He also said efforts were on the way to ensure that capital projects and other sectors of the economy were adequately funded.

Udoma justified the benchmark recommended by the executive in the fiscal document and expressed confidence that necessary strategies were being employed to make them realisable.

The Federal Executive Council had in October last year, approved the MTEF/FSP and also proposed N8.73tn for the 2019 budget, which is N400bn lower than that of 2019, which is N9.12tn.

The Federal Government in the fiscal document, proposed an oil price benchmark of $60; oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day; exchange rate of N305 per US dollars; and Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 3.01 per cent.

Udoma said the expenditure aspect of the 2019 budget proposal in the MTEF/FSP was lower compared to the projection in the actual budget because of the hike in the police salaries that was later accommodated after the document had been submitted.

The Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabuese, while reviewing the performance of the 2018 budget, noted that it had achieved appreciable performance.

He also said that no specific revenue had been channeled to the Social Intervention Programme apart from the looted funds being recovered especially the popular ‘Abacha loot’.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Owan-Enoh, assured Nigerians that details of the senate version of the MTEF/FSP, based on the interactions with the officials, would be made known soon.

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

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business Announce Major Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

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The Kenya Private Sector Alliance and The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business are proud to announce collaboration to promote, support and facilitate bilateral trade and investment opportunities from Canada into Kenya.

The first engagement will be a virtual trade mission to Kenya from Canada in May.

The 3-year agreement MoU was signed today during the Second Session of the Binational Commission meeting between the Governments of Kenya and Canada – and is subject to ongoing renewal.

“This MoU will solidify the existing trade relations between Kenya and Canada and establish strong bonds between the two countries that will go a long way to boost private sector trade and investment. The MOU will also enable us to exchange business information with CACB which is critical especially to our members who wish to expand their coverage to international market,” explained Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga, KEPSA CEO.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance is the apex body of private sector in Kenya.

The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business is a 27-years old organization committed to accelerating trade, business and investment between Canada and Africa.

‘Nairobi is a vital gateway not just to Kenya and the region, but the continent’s economies of the future in Africa,’ noted Garreth Bloor, President of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

‘KEPSA is world leader in the private sector, showcasing excellence on the global stage. This MoU is a great honour for The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, our leadership, and all our members across Canada,’ says Deepak Dave, the organization’s long-standing representative in Nairobi and Chief Risk Officer at the African Trade Insurance Agency.

‘The joint intended results of the co-operation agreement between CACB and KEPSA seeks to increase two-way trade and investment between Canada and Kenya in all sectors – while laying the foundations to explore trade missions to Kenya by The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business and to Canada by KEPSA,’ said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Chair of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

Guided by this MOU, CACB and KEPSA will work together towards on a case-by-case basis exploring events together, exchange of business information and reciprocity members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance to enjoy the privileges of membership afforded to CACB members, and to ensure KEPSA members are well-positioned in the Canadian market for investment and trade in all sectors and that CACB members are well-positioned in the Kenyan market for investment and trade in all sectors.

“As KEPSA, we remain committed to establishing progressive business and trade partnerships with Canada and other similar minded parties for a mutual benefit of our members as well as those of our CACB counterparts,” said Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga, KEPSA CEO.

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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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