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Nigeria Loses N571bn Annually to Tax Waivers – Report

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Internal revenue

About $2.9bn (N571bn) is being lost annually by the Federal Government to tax incentives given to some companies operating in the oil and gas sector under the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas consortium.

The figure was released by ActionAid Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja during the launch of its report entitled: ‘Leaking revenue: How a big tax break to European gas companies has cost Nigeria billions’.

ActionAid Nigeria listed the companies to include Shell, Total and ENI, adding that the tax exemptions were for their investments in the NLNG Limited.

The NLNG is a joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Eni to exploit Nigeria’s huge reserves of gas.

It is the country’s major company in the liquefied gas sector and the three European companies hold 51 per cent stake in it, leaving the balance of 49 per cent to the NNPC.

The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ojobo Atuluku, said the amount being lost to tax incentives to the companies was capable of funding some key programmes in the country’s budget such as provision of health centres and schools, among others.

She said, “ActionAid researches from 2013 show that the tax incentives cost developing countries at least $138bn every year, part of which is an estimated amount of $2.9bn, or a whopping N577bn that Nigeria forfeits every year as a result of tax incentives.

“That amount is the equivalent of twice our national education budget and thrice the health care budget for 2015. This calls for serious concern in a country where over 20 million children do not go to school and almost 15 out of 100 children die before their fifth birthday.”

“There are incontrovertible evidence from researches conducted in many developing nations that corporate profits are soaring and corporate investments in low income countries had tripled since the 1980s. Yet, the corporate tax revenues of the countries where these profits are generated have flat-lined as a percentage of their Gross Domestic Product.”

She said there was a need for the Federal Government to review the tax incentives offered to companies operating in the country.

“ActionAid and their partners on the Tax Justice Platform want Nigeria and other resource rich developing countries to begin to review their tax incentive policies,” Atuluku added.

In his address, a member of the House of Representatives, Herman Hembe, said there was a need for the National Assembly to exercise caution in considering the proposed amendments to the Corporate Income Tax Act.

The amendment seeks to extend the granting of pioneer status to companies from five to 10 years.

This, according to him, may not be in the best interest of the country at a time when it was in need of more revenue owing to the decline in oil prices.

The NLNG, however, in a statement refuted the claims that the tax breaks were free, stressing that it was something that was obtainable in other countries.

It said, “The NLNG wishes to state that this claim is false and misleading. It is most instructive to note also that ActionAid itself admits in its report that its figure is a ‘hypothetical’ one.

“Contrary to ActionAid’s claim, the reality is that the Federal Government’s initial investment of $2.5bn, bolstered by the associated tax incentives, has so far yielded over $33bn in the form of dividends, taxes and feed gas purchases for the country over the past 16 years, with an additional $5bn accruing through corporate spend on local goods and services during the same period.

“The company paid $3.6bn in Company Income Tax and Education Tax between 2014 and 2015. This is in line with the NLNG’s corporate vision to help build a better Nigeria.”

It, however, admitted that it was granted a 10-year tax holiday, stressing that this was also obtainable in other countries.

The firm stated, “Considering the pioneering nature of such a company in Nigeria as well as the huge investments required, running to several billions of dollars in foreign investments, the NLNG was granted a 10-year tax holiday by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the provisions of the Nigeria LNG (Fiscal Incentives, Guarantees and Assurances) Act, CAP. N87, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (‘NLNG Act’).

“The concept of tax holidays is not an unusual practice in the global business community. Indeed, Angola has notably offered as much as 12 years’ tax holidays to encourage investments in their LNG industry, while other countries like Oman, Malaysia, Qatar and Trinidad have offered up to 10-year tax holiday to attract LNG investments.”

Punch

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.

Government

NIMC to Register, Issue 2.5 million National Identification Monthly

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NIMC enrolment

The National Identity Management Commission has said it would improve registration and issuance of the National Identification Numbers to both Nigerians and legal residents to the current 500,000 to 2.5 million per month.

Aliya Aziz, Director-General, NIMC, said this was the commission’s renewed commitment towards the provision of identity services to the nation.

He gave the assurance while playing host to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who was on an official visit to the commission’s head office in Abuja.

Aziz said in a statement issued in Abuja by the Head, Corporate Communication, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke, that the commission would meet and surpass the monthly target.

This, he said, would be part of the policy statements in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

The NIMC boss told his guest that the commission had competent human resources and was looking forward to government support and intervention in injecting the much needed material resources to realise the set objectives.

Pantami charged the commission to increase and improve its performance with regards to NIN registration and issuance, as he also reiterated the target of 2.5 million monthly enrolments.

The minister told his host that the importance of digital identity in actualising the digital economy goals could not be overemphasised and commended the strides recorded by the NIMC despite limited resources.

He assured the commission of government’s support and guidance towards ensuring the fulfilment of its mandate, adding that he had initiated moves to improve staff welfare at the NIMC.

Pantami also assured the NIMC management and staff of his resolve to improve the state of the current infrastructure and equipment to enable the commission to sustain its performance.

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#EndSARS: Here is the Complete Speech of President Buhari

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Muhammadu Buhari

The Complete Speech of President Muhammadu Buhari

Following the Lekki Massacre, president Muhammadu Buhari delivered the much-awaited speech. However, the speech failed to touch on the massacre or the people affected, infuriating millions of Nigerian youths that have committed so much to the struggle and lost so much.

Below is the complete speech.

“Fellow Nigerians,

It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs.

As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.

On approving the termination of SARS I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.

Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.

The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a peace-maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.

All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary.

Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.

The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens, is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.

On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the well being and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths, and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is:

a. paying 3-months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small- and medium- enterprises
b. paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission
c. giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans
d. guaranteeing market for the products of traders

These are in addition to many other initiatives such as:

a. Farmermoni,
b. Tradermoni,
c. Marketmoni,
d. N-Power,
e. N-Tech and
f. N-Agro.

No Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like we have done.

With regard to the welfare of police personnel, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has been directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force.

The emoluments of other paramilitary services are also being reviewed upwards.

In order to underscore the importance of education in preparing youths for the future, this administration has come up with a new salary structure and other incentives for our teachers.

Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country.

We will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement.

We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens, are protected.

But remember that government also has the obligation to protect lives and properties, as well as the right of citizens to go about their daily businesses freely and protected from acts of violence.

To our neighbours in particular, and members of the international community, many of whom have expressed concern about the ongoing development in Nigeria, we thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements.

In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.

For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated.

I therefore call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions.

Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.

And I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoin security agencies to protect lives and properties of all law-abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect.

Let me pay tribute to officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

I would like to thank those State Governors, traditional and religious leaders who have appealed for calm and restraint.

I also thank youth leaders who have restrained their followers from taking the law into their hands.

This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.

Thank you all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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Government

Passport, Visa Trend as Nigerian Youths Look to Move Out En masse Following Disappointing Presidential Speech

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international-passport

Passport and Visa Trend on Twitter Following Disappointing Presidential Speech

Nigerian youths have started looking for a way to exit the country following a disappointing Presidential speech after security operatives opened fire on peaceful protesters on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, Nigeria.

The youths, who have been protesting and demanding an end to the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), had assembled at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020 to sustain their protest before the commencement of a 24-hour curfew declared by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

However, shortly after they sang the national anthem, they were attacked by security operatives in one of the goriest scenes ever witnessed in the country. Despite calls for prosecution of perpetrators by both international and local civil rights organisations, the Federal Government has denied the occurrence even when Sanwo-Olu had earlier said forces beyond his control had made dark notes of history in the state.

This coupled with President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to acknowledge the killings and occurrence in his speech on Thursday, negatively affected the youths that for the first time went all out to demand a change in one voice.

Feeling dejected with the situation and most importantly hopeless about the future, they were forced to start seeking an exit from an uncertain future to a more predictable economy govern by sane people.

Since the failed presidential speech, Passport and Visa have been trending on Twitter as Nigerian youths now shift their focus to traveling out of Nigeria, a nation expected to plunge into the second economic recession in four years in the third quarter under President Muhammadu Buhari.

The inflation rate increased by 13.71 percent in September with the nation’s unemployment rate at 27.1 percent or 21.8 million amid rising economic uncertainties, weak foreign reserves and a currency that has been devalued twice this year.

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