Aso Villa Reads for 27/03/2019

Every day, we bring you the best stories that the Media is reporting about the Government of Nigeria

“The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, has said that the Value Added Tax (VAT) was designed to support poor people, and not to create hardship for them. He was reacting to concerns that the proposed increase in VAT would cause more hardship for the poor, according to a statement from the FIRS, yesterday. He was quoted as saying, “When you don’t consume certain categories of goods and services, you are not liable to pay VAT charges on those items. VAT is not charged on all medical and pharmaceutical products. It is not charged on basic food items. It is not charged on books and educational materials.” According to Vanguard, “it is not charged on baby products, fertilizers, locally produced agricultural and veterinary medicine. VAT is not charged on farming machinery and farming transportation equipment. “Other services exempted from VAT are Medical services, Services rendered by Community Banks, People’s Bank and Mortgage Institutions, plays and performances conducted by Educational Institutions as part of learning and all exported services are exempted from VAT.” Mr. Fowler noted that the revenue generated from VAT was being channeled towards assisting the poor by providing basic amenities. He clarified his earlier submission at the Senate Committee meeting which triggered widespread criticism on the planned VAT increased.”

“President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration would remain focused and committed to creating an inclusive and diversified economy. Buhari gave the assurance on Tuesday when he received the leadership of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), led by Mr. Obafemi Onashile, at the Aso Villa, Abuja. President Buhari, who thanked Nigerians for clearly expressing their desire to move the nation forward, said that the dark days of impunity are gone for good. ‘‘Let me start by thanking you for your kind prayers,’’ the President told members of the Institute, who came to congratulate him on his re-election and pledge their solidarity with his administration. ‘‘Nigerians have clearly spoken of their desire for the country to move forward. On our part, we remain committed to the Change Agenda. By the grace of God, and with your continued prayers and support, the dark days of impunity are gone for good.” The President used the occasion to highlight the administration’s achievements in stimulating the economy in the past three years, noting that growing the nation’s economy means ‘‘national growth must impact the silent majority.’’ Daily Times reported this.

“In line with Nigeria’s plan to achieve pervasive broadband connectivity, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), is set to develop a framework for the use of television white space (TVWS) technology to extend affordable rural connectivity to Nigerians. The initiative, which was the fulcrum of discussion by stakeholders at a one-day consultative forum organised by the NCC in Abuja yesterday, was mid-wifed by the Ministry of Communications, following approval for the use of the TVWS technology by the National Frequency Management Council (NFCM).” According to Leadership, “TVWS is the unused spectrum in the broadcasting band which can be used to deliver affordable broadband services in the rural communities, thereby bridging rural-urban digital divide. In Nigeria, TVWS is being deployed to extend connectivity to over 56 per cent of Nigeria living in the rural areas.

“The federal government through the National Automative Design and Development Council (NADDC) has rolled out plan in 2019 to train 3,200 youths in the mechatronics to boost skill development and promoting local production of automobiles. These youth, the Director-General of the NADDC, Jelani Aliyu said would be drawn across the country through the N-empower scheme, an initiative of the presidency. Jelani said so far the council has trained over 20,000 youth across the country. The DG said the country spends 80 billion dollars every year in importing 300 to 400 vehicles adding that these brings zero contribution to the economy. Jelani said to further prevent these, the council is working with the Federal Government to unveil the National Automative Industrialisation Development Plan (NAIDP) to support the industrialization of the Automative sector interms of producing vehicles in the country. He said there are so much programs and physical incentives that will discourage importation of cars into the country.” Blue Print reported.

Business Day (March 27, page 7) reports that “Nigeria’s capital importation into the agricultural sector is gaining momentum as foreign investments into the sector rose by 82 percent from $159 million (N57 billion) in 2017 to $289 million (N104 billion) in 2018, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows. According to stakeholders in the sector, the sustained rise in investment is on account of the commitment of government at all levels to the sector which has made it attractive to both local and foreign investors. “Foreign Investors that are coming in have seen the potential in the Country’s population size. Investors are investing to improve the value chain and reduce the cost of production,” Emmanuel Ijewere, vice president of the Nigerian Agribusiness Group (NABG) said last year, in a telephone interview.”

“As part of the initiatives to bring all working Nigerians into the financial inclusion net, President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday launch the Micro Pension Plan (MPP) in Abuja. The MPP which is an initiative of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) is aimed at the provision of pension services to self-employed persons in the informal sector and employees of organisations with less than three staff.” According to BusinessDay , “the informal sector constitute an estimated 69 million workforce in the country and represents an estimated 88 percent of Nigerian workers that lack pensions and safety nets for their old age. The goal of the commission is to achieve coverage of 30 million people in the informal sector by 2024. The formal launch is the official flag-off of the plan and attests to the objective of the current administration to provide ample opportunities for financial inclusion and economic stability for more Nigerians in the informal sector.”

“It is exactly 11 days today since the grace period to suspend the lien on alleged tax defaulters’ bank account expired, and to that effect, the Federal Inland Revenue service (FIRS) says banks are to resume placing restrictions on such defaulters accounts. Babatunde Folwer, executive chairman of FIRS, disclosed this to BusinessDay (March 27, page 7), on Friday as he said freezing of Taxpayers’ bank account would commence with immediate effect. “In line with our word, we gave that concession of 30 days additional grace and we have one back to the banks, and we told them that for the 50,000 plus who have still refused to come forward, that their account should be frozen with immediate effect,” Fowler told BusinessDay on the sidelines od the Nigeria Tax Outlook (NTO) event in Lagos recently, with the theme: Tax Planning As An effective Strategy To Cost Management.”

“The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has signed an agreement with the Maritime Academy of India for onboard sea time training of some graduates of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme, NSDP.” According to Vanguard reports that “at the signing ceremony between the two bodies in Lagos, Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, restated its commitment to partnerships with international institutions for sea time training of graduates of the programme. Peterside said the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, covered the training of 60 cadets in three batches of 20 each. According to him, “This MoU will help reduce the number of cadets awaiting sea-time by clearing up the first 60 of the backlog in three batches of 20 each. A statement by Head, Corporate Communication at NIMASA, Isichei Osamgbi, noted that the NIMASA boss congratulated the 20 trainees under the first batch of the scheme and tasked them to be dedicated, disciplined, and committed to making the best use of the opportunity to develop themselves and aid national development.”

“Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) Limited, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has attained the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS) certification, the first by any refinery on the African continent. Mr. Richard Omale, Managing Director of 3FM Solutions, a Management Consulting Company whose outfit conducted the QMS assessment, announced the milestone during a town hall meeting of the NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, with the refinery staff, Thursday in Port Harcourt. Omale, who presented the certification to the GMD said: “PHRC has a lot to gain from sustaining its ISO certification. Apart from belonging to a global movement for improved standards, the certification would provide senior management with an efficient management process and set out areas of responsibility across the organization, among other benefits”. NNPC reported this.

According to Business Day (March 27, page 7), “Nigeria has restated its readiness to provide enough incentives and implement the policies that will attract capital into the country. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, minister of finance, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the First Bank of Nigeria plc’s 125th anniversary lecture in Lagos on Tuesday, said when investors choose to come to Nigeria, it is because they are comfortable enough that their investment will grow and flourish, that they can bring in their money and take it out. We must learn from the mistakes we made in the past. We must make sure in the present reality we live in, that we accelerate fiscal purpose, that we invest and we also make sure that investment is done on a consistency basis,” Ahmed said.”