- NairaBET, Lottery Operators Kick Against VAT Automation
Operators in the nation’s lottery and gaming industry kicked against government plans to automate the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) from customers.
The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, made the announcement in Lagos at a stakeholders’ meeting organised in conjunction with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC).
According to the Chairman of the service, the automation would ease the stress associated with VAT payment and enable lottery players and bettors to pay VAT on each transaction made.
“What we are trying to introduce today is aimed at improving the transparency, accountability and convenience in the payment of any taxes. We are automating tax collection across various industries in the country,” he stated.
Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, the Director-General, NLRC, said the importance of tax to the Nigerian economy cannot be over-emphasised, especially with the ongoing revenue challenges.
“In the gaming industry, products and services are generally offered through agents who are commonly in direct contact with the players. The consumption of the products and services are taxable under the law,” he said.
Operators in the industry, however, voiced their concerns over additional fee on lottery tickets and other gaming services, according to them it would hurt their businesses.
Mr Akin Alabi, the Founder of NairaBET, Mr Akin Alabi, who spoke on behalf of the industry, said the mode of charging would chase customers from local platforms to foreign companies.
He said, “There must be another mode of collecting VAT rather than from the top level, which is on every stake. Telling operators to pay from the stakes is almost impossible because what it means is that customers will leave our platforms. So, they will start looking for companies that are not regulated where they can place their bets; they will look for foreign companies. So, it is going to ruin our business.
“Presently, I have little to lose. I am in the process of divesting all my interests in NairaBET because I just won election to the House of Representatives. But I don’t want to leave the industry in a mess; that is why I am passionate about it.”
Alabi further stated that FIRS should have consulted operators before automating its collection and imposing VAT on customers.
Responding to operators, the FIRS boss, said, “Tax has to do with law and the law says that for every transaction that is VATable, five percent should be charged. You have to be aware that we are automating collection in all industries. This is not a tax on the business but on the bettors.
“If you carry out foreign bets and you go through your banks to make the payment, you will also be charged VAT.”
Fowler, while responding to questions from journalists, said, “If somebody comes to bet N100, it becomes N105. I can assure you that it will not make them change their minds.”
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business Welcomes Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard to its Senior Advisory Board
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business is delighted to announce Mr. Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard’s ascendancy to the organization’s Senior Advisory Board, after unanimous approval of the by Board of Directors.
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business is an independent, not-for-profit organization with strong working links with both Canadian and African businesses and governments, who are among its members. Leading CEOs and Heads of State – alongside investors, entrepreneurs and policy-makers – are among the hundreds of speakers and tens of thousands of delegates to in-person and virtual events.
“We are immensely honoured to welcome a leading global media icon – and a son of Africa – to our senior board, as we drive a new chapter in Canada-Africa trade and investment,” says the Chairman of the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, Mr. Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, speaking from the Chamber’s Ottawa offices.
“Our existing work with APO Group has seen millions of dollars in media exposure across the continent. We believe Mr. Pompigne-Mognard and APO Group will be key to our next phase of dramatic growth as a 27-year-old institution committed to Canada-Africa trade and investment”.
Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard founded APO with savings of €10,000, as start-up capital. The objective was to provide international and African media access to reliable news about the continent’s economy, businesses, and investment.
Today APO Group has helped communicators relay compelling, uniquely African stories to audiences, enabling a change in the African narrative to a more positive tone.
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business began work with APO Group this year, following major engagements in Canada and Africa, including with Prime Minister Trudeau, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement leadership, as well as African Heads of State and Cabinet Ministers.
“Mr. Pompigne-Mognard will no doubt play an important and strategy role in Canada-Africa trade and investment in the context of our mandate to accelerate the commercial ties between this great G7 nation and our incredible continent, Africa” added Mr. Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, in his remarks from Ottawa.
Economists Evaluate Nigeria-China Currency Swap
Some Financial Economists have expressed great concerns about the minor influence that the Nigeria-China currency swap had on the country’s economy, three years after.
The experts told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday that the volume of currency import so far traded had not been significant, though a few swaps took place.
The pact which marked three years of implementation in April was signed on April 27, 2018, to ease demand pressure on the country’s supply of foreign exchange.
The Chief Executive Officer of Arvo Finance, Mr. Ayotunde Bally, said that the pact had not been fully utilised due to a decrease in the drawdown of the money input of the Chinese Yuan to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“This pact which was aimed at creating a harmonious relationship between the two countries has not been utilised as it ought to be. Statistics have it that Nigeria-China bilateral trade which was around 2 billion dollars in 2002 is within the space of about 14 billion dollars in contemporary years. And yet, we cannot boast of about three billion dollars Yuan being utilised in such market transaction,’’ he said.
According to Bally, that has clearly displayed the negligence of the pact by most business importers
He said the poor state of the pact was due to ignorance and the benefits of the pact to those who utilise it.
“Also, the deliberate avoidance of the pact by those who believe transactions are easier with dollars or some other methods like Bureau De Change among others. Even those who know about the pact but avoid it, indicating that it is not lucid and that the regulations and procedures are rigid to them,” he told NAN.
He advocated massive sensitisation on the usefulness of the pact to both the business individuals and the country at large.
Mr. Johnson Chukwu, Founder of Cowry Asset Management Limited, also said that the pact recorded minimal benefit to the economy.
“If you look at our demand for foreign exchange particularly for imports, you will observe that we still have pressures coming from import demand. China is our biggest trading partner and our largest import market.
“We bought more products from China than any other country in the world. So, if the currency swap has been very significant, then the pressures we are witnessing on the balance of trade would have been abated.
“So, I do not think the volume of currency import has been significant. Certainly, there must have been a few swaps that have taken place since then but it is clearly not significant because if it was, it would have reflected in our balance of trade,” Chukwu said.
According to him, China accounts for more than 25 percent of our imports; so we should not have a currency swap that delays immediate payments of our foreign reserves.
Also, Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research (CEPAR), University of Lagos, said that the swap deal had a positive impact on the naira exchange rate with major currencies.
“The Nigeria-China currency swap deal, according to reports, has some positive impact on the stability of the naira exchange rate with major currencies. But, its effect is limited by the volume of trade between Nigeria and China.
“With the decline in global productivity occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, the effect appears not to have achieved the originally intended objectives.
“Nigeria has been bedeviled by other economic challenges. The current sorry state of the country’s exchange rate is quite instructive in this regard,” Nwokoma said.
Unilever Nigeria to Create New Company For Tea Business
Unilever Nigeria Plc announced on Friday that its Board of Directors had approved the steps required to implement the separation of its tea business in Nigeria.
The approval on April 30, 2021, followed the announcement made on Feb. 25 about Unilever Nigeria’s planned separation of its tea business as part of the global separation, according to a statement obtained from the Nigerian Exchange Limited.
The company noted that on 23 July 2020, following the completion of a strategic review, Unilever Plc announced its intention to separate its global tea business, including the retail and food solutions businesses, plantations, T2 and Pukka.
It said, “Subject to approval by the company’s shareholders and any regulatory approvals, the Nigeria Tea Business will be transferred to a newly incorporated tea company in Nigeria (New TeaCo), held under a newly incorporated tea holding company to create a dedicated tea group within the Unilever Group (TeaCo Group).
“The assets being transferred by Unilever Nigeria Plc to New TeaCo include production assets and other tangible assets used exclusively in relation to the tea business; distribution rights to tea products in Nigeria and export markets; and locally owned unregistered intellectual property rights.”
According to the statement, Unilever Nigeria will retain ownership of the site at Agbara.
“Unilever and Unilever Nigeria Plc will also provide certain intercompany services to the New TeaCo and the TeaCo Group for a transitional period,” it said
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