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OXFAM advises Nigeria to review tax incentives costing over N580b annually



OXFAM, an International Non-Government Organisation, has advised the Nigerian government to review its policy on tax incentives currently costing the country a revenue loss of over N580 billion annually.

The Country Director, OXFAM Nigeria, Mr Constant Tchona, gave the advice on Wednesday in Abuja at the public presentation of the Fair Tax Monitor Index Report and the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index Report.

Tchona said studies had shown that the fiscal incentives granted with the hope of stimulating investments in the country were eroded by poor governance and lack of transparency.

He said that there was no-cost benefit analysis to justify the exemptions.

Tchona said that in the spirit of fair taxation, the process for granting tax incentives should include mandatory parliamentary oversight, clear requirements for incentives and periodic review of expected results.

“The National Assembly should enact a law that will criminalise the actions of banks, auditors, accountants and lawyers that facilitates illicit financial flows.

“When such professionals act contrary to existing regulations, they should be held accountable in Nigeria. This can be enforced through strengthened professional association bodies.

“There is also need for the Nigerian government to fast-forward action on the new National Tax Policy and clamp down on corporate crimes.

“New legislation and rules to cope with current realities should be enacted along with introduction to cutting-edge technology,” he said.

Tchona advised the government to make tax laws gender-friendly and more equitable to women as drivers of micro and small businesses in the country.

He also urged the government to consider making Value Added Tax (VAT) more progressive by charging more for luxury goods than service items.

Tchona said that this would help to reduce wealth inequality in the country.

“VAT exemption for building materials will have a direct positive bearing on middle and poor class segments of the population and make rent cheaper, thereby reducing housing deficit.

“It is also important to increase direct tax net rather than increasing burden of indirect taxes like VAT.

“Establishing a more progressive tax system will make it possible for government to deliver on essential public services like education, health and social protection, among others,” he said.

NAN reports that a 2015 OXFAM report highlights the inefficiency of Nigeria’s tax incentives where it reported that the country loses N580 billion annually through tax incentives to multinationals.

The study also showed that Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal had a combined loss of over 5.8 billion dollars every year.

The report further showed that tax incentives werte not the priority for investors, rather they looked for infrastructure, education and the quality of the workforce.






Nigerian varsities partner NASSI to close skills gap



The Committee of Deans of Engineering and Technology of Nigerian Universities is seeking to partner the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) to boost entrepreneurship in the country.

Prof. Christian Bolu, former Chairman of the committee made this known on Wednesday in Abuja when he led a delegation on a courtesy visit to NASSI management.

Bolu, also Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Covenant University said that the aim of the visit was to involve NASSI in the training of engineers in Nigerian universities, particularly in the practical aspect.

He said that the partnership would close the gap between the academia and entrepreneurial in the country.

“There are about 55 universities offering engineering programmes out of the 200 universities in Nigeria and this committee is for all the Deans of the faculty of engineering.

“The main goal of this committee is to share ideas on how we can improve the training of our engineers. We found out that there are many things lacking, particularly getting our students to work and understand how industries operate in Nigeria.

“We want to make sure they acquire exact skills they need so that when they graduate, they don’t have to run around doing jobs outside their fields or go into banking rather they should be useful in factories,’’ he said.

According to him, the committee also wants to find out the problems in the industry and communities and be part of the solution so that the things we do as practical will be based on problems coming from the industry.

The Professor of Engineering recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had in June signed a new Engineering Law which emphasised on Nigerians solving their problems.

Bolu, also the Leader of the Committee working on Industry Academia Partnership underscored the need to ensure Nigerian engineering students were changed by this partnership for Nigeria to benefit economically.

Prof. Salami Ismailia of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta also decried the huge disconnect between the academia and industry.

Ismailia thanked the association for its cooperation and also hoped that the fear of sharing information which was one of the challenges in the industry could be tackled.

Chief Solomon Vongfa, NASSI National President said the partnership was timely, in view of the present challenges in the sector, adding that the association would work together with the committee for entrepreneurial development.

He said that there were 41 million Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, adding that such meaningful collaboration which would close the huge gap was needed to enhance the sector.

“There is a challenge on skills gap, so engineering students will be allowed to visit our factories for intensive training. Industrial Attachment is not enough.

“We are having relationship with China, India and U.S.A to meet up with global competitiveness, We will like to bring in modern machines to face the international market.

“The students will also be exposed on how to operate the equipment through the technology and knowledge transfer from our foreign partners.

“We have been doing a lot of trainings, especially in the internal villages to develop small scale entrepreneurs in the country. We are open for collaborations to build the industry,’’ he said.



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Acting NAN MD advocates use of data visualisation in journalism



Ibrahim Mammaga has called on journalists in the country to use data visualisation tools to improve their reportage.

Mammaga made the call on Wednesday, in Abuja, at training on Data Journalism, organised for reporters and editors of NAN by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with Code for Africa, an NGO.

The acting MD said the training would improve the agency’s ability to use data and statistics for better understanding of important and trending issues in the country.

“Data training is important for journalists on every beat from finance to health, agriculture, sports and so on.

“The fact remains that people do not have the patience to read long stories anymore. People want facts given to them in the shortest way possible.

“Data visualisation summarises stories in a graphic form, making it more interesting for people to read and that is the area I want NAN reporters to explore,” he said.

He appealed to NBS and Code for Africa to extend the gesture to the agency’s reporters in states and zonal offices so that more could benefit from the training.

Mammaga then advised the trainees to use the knowledge acquired from the training in writing stories that were rich in data visualisation to attract more readership and usage of NAN stories.

Ms Andidiong Okon, the Nigerian Project Manager, Code for Africa, said that the training was aimed at helping journalists to understand data and statistics so they could pass accurate information to citizens.

“I think every journalist should see data journalism as a way of making story-telling easier, more interesting and backed with facts.

“So, journalists need to get comfortable with the idea of using data in their stories and the NBS is the most reliable data source in the country,” Okon said.

She disclosed that NAN was chosen for the training because of its wide reach and the relationship it has with other newsrooms who subscribe to the agency.

“We feel that training NAN will create ripple effect to other media and once they see how its reportage has improved, they can learn more and possibly get training support from the agency,” she said.

Meanwhile, one of the trainees, Mr Eric Ochigbo, said his job as a Parliamentary Reporter had been made easy, as legislative data would now be simple to understand using graphics.

“Data journalism is a new frontier of reportage, and as a parliamentary reporter, if I must remain relevant; I really need to know how to use these tools.

“Data visualisation brings clarity and makes it easier for me to explain to my audience the activities of the National Assembly,” Ochigbo said.

NAN is a beneficiary of StoryLab Academy, an initiative of the World Bank, Google News Lab and Code for Africa.

The aim is to develop digital reporting skills in newsrooms across 12 major African cities.

The cities are Abuja, Casablanca, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Freetown and three South African cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Others are Kampala Lagos (Nigeria) Nairobi and Yaoundé.

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Fidelity Bank empowers 50 small business entrepreneurs in Kano



Fidelity Bank says it  has empowered about 50 small business entrepreneurs to boost their businesses and save them from collapse.

Mr Mannir Ringim, the Regional Head of Fidelity Bank in North West,  told the News Agency Nigeria in Kano on Wednesday that the gesture was to strengthen the bank’s relationship with small business owners.

According to him, the bank is engaging small business owners because it believes they will boost the country’s GDP by so doing.

“If businesses succeed, the economy will improve and that will be beneficial to us at macro level.”

Ringim described Fidelity Bank as a small and medium enterprises-friendly bank,  adding that it had planned series of trainings for Nigerian business owners at various stages across the country.

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Expert urges construction operators to harness business opportunities



A Property Consultant, Mr Gbenga Ismail, on Wednesday said there were various business opportunities in the building construction industry which operators could harness to earn and sustain a living.

Ismail, also the Chairman, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), made the assertion while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.

He said that the Nigerian built environment was diverse from big cities to small towns in the coastal regions, rural, remote areas and villages.

According to him, 46.9 per cent of Nigerians live in urban cities, while the annual rate of urbanisation was put at 3.75 per cent with Lagos alone having a population of over 20 million people.

“This shows that the Nigerian built environment is facing immense challenges, while inadequate urban planning and underutilisation of opportunities in some sectors of the economy makes the situation worse.

“One of these major challenges is the twin issue of population and economic growth, which has led to an increase in the physical size of cities, higher population densities, greater demands on natural assets within the cities and increased congestion.

He said that the building construction sector had the vital role of providing the requisite built environment to meet the challenges.

He said there were many investment opportunities in the construction and infrastructure industry which were yet to be tapped and urged operators in the industry to explore the investment areas to earn a living and also grow the country.

According to him, the country remains heavily underserved with infrastructure, saying that a lot of construction is still required in both public and private sector.

“Investors can set up an equipment assembly plant and explore opportunities in housing and infrastructure construction.

“Infrastructure construction requires a lot of equipment. An equipment company in Nigeria can produce or assemble road construction equipment such as cranes, bulldozers and welding machines.

“Most of the standard machines used by construction companies Nigeria are imported.

“If a good operator will come in and put up a manufacturing unit that produces standard iron rods it will be good for the market and investors,’’ Ismail said.

He, therefore, enjoined investors, operators and professionals in the built environment to come together and ply their trade to overcome the evolving challenges to deliver an ideal built environment.

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South African consumer inflation slows to 4% in July



South African consumer inflation slows to 4% in July

Johannesburg, Aug. 21, 2019 South Africa’s headline consumer inflation slowed to 4.0% year-on-year in July, its lowest in seven months, from 4.5% in June, data from Statistics South Africa showed on Wednesday.

On a month-on-month basis prices rose 0.4%, the same as the previous month.

Core inflation – which excludes the prices of food, non-alcoholic beverages, petrol and energy – was at 4.2% year-on-year versus a 4.3% increase in June and was at 0.4% month-on-month, the same rate as in June. (Reuters/NAN)

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