An industrialist, Dr Edward Nkwegu on Thursday said that it was important for Nigerian youths to expose themselves to financial education.
Nkwegu gave the advice in Okpoduma-Agbaja during the 15th thanksgiving anniversay of Regina Pacis Foundation, which is committed to providing economic empowerment to youths through skills acquisition.
According to him, financial education at secondary and tertiary institutions would help alleviate poverty as well as reduce unemployment in the country.
Nkwegu said that the nation’s educational curricula were designed to equip students with general knowledge without conscious effort to enhance inclusive financial education.
He added that education without financial knowledge was an exercise in futility, adding that financial knowledge was the ‘new money’.
According to him, the Ragina Pacis Foundation is a vocational training institute committed to entrenching hoslistic skills and financial education in youths to succeed in life.
“This useful skills are what the modern educational systems rarely give to today’s graduates. They acquire only general knowledge through scholastic education that cannot put food on their table.
“We aim at changing the mind-set that has kept the people poor. We know that God has deposited in every soul the seed of great future, but that seed will never germinate, much less grow to maturity, except through the rendering of useful service.
“Without specialised knowledge, the person will not acquire specialised skill to render useful service and without rendering of useful service, you may not earn any income or reward for self-sustenance,” he said.
Nkwegu said the foundation always believed that some people resort to illegal means of acquiring wealth because of ignorance and lack of financial education.
He said: “We are convinced that through financial education, one can acquire sustainable wealth through legitimate means.
“We share the belief that illegal means of wealth acquisition are as a result of ignorance and lack of financial education”.
Nigeria News Agency reports that the foundation which started in 2005 has trained hundreds of graduates in different vocational skills.
Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
AfCFTA: Nigeria harps on fairness
For the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to achieve its goals and boost intra-African trade, deliberate efforts ensuring fair trade must endure, says Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo.
Adebayo emphasised fairness in his speech at the AfCFTA National Forum, which entered its second day on Friday in Lagos.
The Forum, themed: ‘Effective Implementation for Industrialisation and Inclusive Economic Development in Nigeria’ was co-organised by the Nigerian Government, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and in collaboration with the European Union (EU).
The Nigeria News Agency reports that other collaborators include the African Union (AU), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
Adebayo said that President Muhammadu Buhari had always maintained that trade was very important to Nigeria and Africa, adding that fairness was key to success of multilateral agreements.
“Our vision for intra-African trade is that of free movement of made in Africa goods. That is, goods and services made locally with significant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.
“Nigeria’s vision for the AfCFTA is, therefore, free and fair intra-Africa trade that creates economic growth, wealth for investors and businesses, jobs and prosperity for our citizens,” he said.
The Minister said that from the studies done so far, Nigeria had established that the AfCFTA could facilitate economic growth and diversification, through preferential access to Africa’s market for manufactured goods and services.
He, however, pointed out that this could only be realised through addition of new production capacity, retooling and upscaling existing businesses and assisting those sectors that would be negatively impacted to migrate to new areas.
Adebayo also harped on prioritising the resolution of the bottlenecks that hinder the competitiveness in production and trade, including hard infrastructure such as power and logistics as well as soft infrastructure such as policies, regulations.
He said that enforcement of trade rules, without compromising efforts on trade facilitation and ease of doing business, was crucial to AfCFTA.
According to him, the Federal Government is determined to fully implement the terms of the AfCFTA and uphold its commitments on trade and regional integration.
“However, we will not allow smuggling and other predatory trade practices to continue unchecked, as it undermines our economic development efforts and destroys local industries, leading to job losses.
“We also will not allow rogue traders to manipulate the rules of origin and disguise goods from outside the continent as made in Africa so as to qualify for duty-free passage,” Adebayo said.
On the other hand, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, urged Nigeria to discover new opportunities for diversification and complementary actions to overcome her existing economic constraints.
Kallon noted that Nigeria was one of the countries expected to experience the largest absolute expansion and the implementation of the AfCFTA would be a game changer at stimulating intra-African trade.
According to him, Nigeria’s GDP and exports would increase significantly toward African sub-regions, outside West Africa, with most impressive expansions to Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Other countries include Botswana, Cameroon, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Kallon said that Nigeria’s exports to its African partners would be most pronounced in agricultural and food sectors, followed by industrial sector, which will offer invaluable opportunities to industrialise through trade.
”Agricultural sector provides such an opportunity for Nigeria, and with some value addition, it can really become a great producer in the region.
“Nigeria’s exports to the rest of Africa will increase by more than 15 per cent in fishery; wearing apparel leather; wood and papers; electronics; vehicles and transport equipment; and machinery,” he said.
Kallon listed other such fields as meat and poultry, dairy products, cereals, plant-based fibres, fruits, vegetables, beverage, tobacco and livestock.
He, however, said the increase in exports to West Africa would not result in significant market access improvement with partners, considering the already quasi free market within ECOWAS Customs Union.
Kallon explained that he had no doubt that Nigeria would be able to contribute positively toward AfCFTA Agreement.
Edited & Vetted By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Oluwole Sogunle
Financial experts laud NASS on 2020 budget passage, express concern on oil benchmark
Financial experts on Friday commended the National Assembly for ensuring early passage of the 2020 budget, just as they expressed concern on the oil production benchmark.
NAN reports that Nigerian Senate passed a record N10.59 trillion for the 2020 budget.
The 2020 budget had a deficit of N2.28trillion to be financed through foreign and domestic borrowing.
The benchmark price for crude oil was increased from $55 to $57.
The appropriation bill had also been passed at the House of Representatives on Thursday.
“I can’t remember when that happened last. It means the members are truly honourable. Hopefully, the President will assent to it without delay.
“The delay that will come with implementation will be minimal, or else all these efforts will come to nothing,” Tella said.
He, however, expressed reservations on the huge allocations to debt servicing and recurrent expenditure.
Tella said that the oil benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel was reasonable, noting that estimated 2.1 million barrel per day was ambitious, given OPEC present stance.
“The oil price of $57 per barrel is quite reasonable but the estimated 2.1 barrel per day may be quite ambitious given OPEC present stance, unless we have made up our mind not to obey the body.
“More importantly, however, is the huge allocations for debt servicing and recurrent expenditure, while capital expenditure is just about half the recurrent.
“The budget is not growth enhancing. The allocations to education and health are, as usual, very low.
“This is probably because debt servicing has taken large proportion of what should go to these sectors,” Tella said.
He advised that the Federal Government must put a lid on debt accumulation and seek other ways of financing infrastructure.
“We have to put a lid on the debt accumulation. We must seek other ways of financing infrastructure such as concessioning and public-private partnerships.
“The country has to free money from some sectors and debt servicing to finance education and health and start preparing our youths for the future that is almost here.
“The states must reassess themselves in relation to their level of financing and try to run balanced budget, stop paying frivolous monies to past officials or godfathers and commit more funds to the same education and health,” Tella said.
Malam Garba Kurfi,the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd., lauded the passage of the budget by the lawmakers in December for the year 2020.
Kurfi called on the National Assembly to maintain the trend in the subsequent years to come.
He said that government should ensure at least 80 per cent budget implementation once assented by the Presidency.
“We expect that most of the capital expenditure will be fully implemented in order to stimulate growth of the economy,” Kurfi said.
He said that crude oil benchmark of $57 was not realistic due to fluctuation in oil prices at the international market.
Kurfi explained that drop in oil price below the benchmark target would adversely affect budget implementation.
“Similarly, the deficit of two trillion naira is about 20 per cent of the budget which is an issue of concern because it can lead to failure in capital projects which mostly rely on borrowing,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Ambrose Omordion, Chief Operating Officer InvestData Ltd., said that increase in the budget to N10.56 trillion against initial estimate of N10.32 trillion was good for the economy.
Omordion said that the country needed an expansionary budget to activate economic activities.
He raised some concerns on tax increment in an economy that was still recovering sluggishly, and oil benchmark pegged at $57.
Omordion said that the amount allocated for debt servicing was higher than budgeted amount for capital expenditure, which was not good for economic growth and development.
He said that government should reduce borrowing, noting that the recent downgrading of Nigeria to negative from stable rating by Moody needed a call to action.
Omordion said that monetary and fiscal policies must complement each other to drive economic growth.
Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Oluwole Sogunle
LIRS shuts 9 coys over N21.59m tax evasion
The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) in its enforcement activities, has shut nine companies and hospitality firms over alleged failure to remit N21.59 million consumption taxes to the state government.
The Director, Legal Services of the LIRS, Mr Seyi Alade, made this known while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency during a state-wide tax law enforcement exercise by the Service in Lagos on Thursday.
Alade said that the tax liabilities of the companies were between 2013 to 2019, saying the firms were audited for the periods but had not made the payment.
He explained that the tax liability of three of the firms were for the period between 2013 to 2014, while four firms were between April to July 2019 and the other two were for the period between May to August 2019.
He also said the affected companies failed to pay the established liabilities despite `the long rope’ the agency gave them to regularise their tax status.
He listed some of the sealed firms to include Krizions Intercontinental Cuisine, Mikacomic Nigeria Ltd., Resolution Finance Ltd., Vlelable Lounge and Oleander Water view Bistrodeva Ltd.
Others were, Printing Connections Ltd., Seven Season Lounge Ltd., VicJames Apartment and Carat 24 Business Hotel & Suites.
Alade said that LIRS sent several notices to the affected companies to remind them of their tax liabilities and the need to make payments before the agency embarked on an enforcement exercise.
He explained that the Demand Notice and the Letter of Intention were sent to the affected companies between Nov. 15, 2018 and Sept. 16, 2019 respectively.
“Before LIRS embarks on Distrain exercise, it must have sent at least two letters of notices to the management of the affected firms reminding them of the tax liabilities.
“The Demand Notice expiration is 30 days while the Letter of Intention expires seven days after issuance.
“So, before now both the Demand Notice letter and the Letter of Intention to distrain have been sent to the management of the firms which they failed to act on,” he said.
Alade, however, said that some of the affected firms had visited the LIRS office to make payments of their liability after the distrain/enforcement exercise and had equally paid an additional N100,000 as the cost of LIRS levy of the distress.
“There are no hiding places for recalcitrant taxpayers because the LIRS’ enforcement engine is now well oiled to continually carry out enforcement activities against recalcitrant companies and individuals,’’ he said.
He advised that Lagosians should partner with the government by carrying out their civic and constitutional responsibilities of filing their tax returns and promptly pay their assessed taxes in order for the good plans of government for the state to materialise.
Alade said that the LIRS had made tax compliance very easy for the taxpayers by the recent launch of the Electronic Tax platform.
He explained that through the platform, taxpayers could file their tax returns from the comfort of their homes and offices and also make relevant tax payments.
Alade urged taxpayers to make use of the platform for their comfort and ease of compliance with their various tax obligations.
He noted that being outside the tax net may prove detrimental to recalcitrant citizens who might not be able to access their bank accounts and other activities without obtaining the Tax Identification Number (TIN).
He, however, implored taxpayers to be mindful of the annual statutory dates of Jan. 31 for Companies and March 31 for individuals to file their tax returns.
Alade warned that the Agency was poised to prosecute anyone that fail to file tax returns within the statutory dates, saying that the offence could also result to custodial sentences upon conviction.
Also speaking, Mrs Kate Clinton, a Managing Partner of Seven Season Lounge Ltd., claimed that the company objected to the tax liability given to it.
According to her, the company is still working toward providing the necessary documents to justify our objection, which we have not been able provide before LIRS came to shut down the company.
Edited & Vetted By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Adeleye Ajayi
Ex-ANAN President lauds NASS for early passage of 2020 Appropriation Bill
A financial expert, Dr Samuel Nzekwe, has lauded the National Assembly for the timely passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill.
Details of the 2020 Appropriation Bill include: Recurrent Expenditures-N4.84 trillion, Capital Expenditures-N2.46 trillion, and Debt Servicing-N2.72 trillion.
NAN also reports that this is the first time since 1999 that the nation’s annual budget would be passed within 60 days.
Nzekwe said that the early passage of 2020 Appropriation Bill was a welcome development, saying that it would return the nation to January to December circle of annual budget.
“The Federal Government’s effort of bringing the nation’s annual budget to normal cycle of January to December is commendable, if it is effectively implemented,’’ Nzekwe said.
The former ANAN president advised the Federal Government to intensity efforts in ensuring that the January to December cycle was sustained and maintained in order to achieve objectives of the budget.
Nzekwe said the National Assembly should not have increased the benchmark of oil from 55 dollars to 57 dollars because the price was being determined by external forces or international market.
He stressed the need for the Federal Government to redouble efforts in reducing the funds being used to service debts so that more funds could be made available to build capital projects.
“How do we fund the building of critical infrastructure like electricity, road networks and water, if the nation continues to spend over 25 per cent of its annual budgets on debts servicing,’’ he said.
Nzekwe said that this development would make it difficult for manufacturers to compete favourably in term of qualities and prices with goods coming into the country.
The former ANAN president stressed the need to focus on building critical infrastructure by reducing borrowing that were mainly used for recurrent expenditures in order to bring down high rate of debts servicing.
He called on the Federal Government to put in place effective policing of the nation’s borders so that the projection of 10.8 per cent for inflation rate in 2020 budget could be achievable.
Nzekwe noted that the increase in inflation rate, which translated to rising in prices of goods and services, could be traced to the closure of the nation’s borders.
Edited & Vetted By: Cecilia Odey/Olagoke Olatoye
NIESV inducts 310, harps on professionalism
The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) on Thursday inducted 310 new members into the associate cadre of the institution to practice as certified estate surveyors and valuers.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the theme of the programme was: ‘International Best Practices for Professionals’.
Abonta said it was also a mechanism to grow the estate surveying profession in the country.
According to him, the induction signifies commitment on the part of the inductees to become ambassadors of the profession at all times.
He, therefore, urged the inductees to uphold the principles, ethics and integrity of the profession in their service to the society.
Abonta said the inductees should contribute their quota to the move toward ensuring effective management and development of infrastructure and facilities in the country.
The NIESV president said that infrastructure/estate surveying and valuation practice in Nigeria needed to be improved upon.
He assured commitment of the institution to providing the necessary support to ensure smooth operation of the newly inducted members.
“The induction programme provides the opportunity to formally certify estate surveying professionals who have met the requirements to practice as estate surveyors and valuers.
“As a certified estate professional, avail yourself with opportunities of seminars and workshops to constantly be updated with new developments and methodologies in the profession,” he said.
An estate surveyor, Mr Ebubechukwu Etudo, said that estate surveying practitioners should maintain professionalism in the course of discharging their mandates.
Etudo, also the Guest Speaker at the ceremony, said that an estate professional must display punctuality, honesty, humility and commitment when dealing with clients.
According to him, estate surveyors and valuers are bound to render services in accordance with law, regulations and code of conduct of the profession.
“I enjoin you to go out there and up the scale of estate surveying and valuation practice in Nigeria and globally.
“In your interaction with your clients it is advisable that you try as much as possible to keep the relationship official. Most of your clients are not on the same social circuit with you.
“An estate surveyor and valuer should operate his clients account distinct from his partnership account. All rents received on behalf of your client should be promptly remitted to the client account after agreed outgoings have been deducted.
“A professional must ensure that his work is carried out with competence, deligence and speed. Reports must be presented and proof read by a partner of a firm or any senior and competent person so delegated.
“In order to protect oneself from civil liability arising from tort and contract, adequate professional indemnity cover must be taken out and maintained at all times,” Etudo said.
Also speaking, the 6th President of the Institution, Mr Daudu Shote, urged the inductees to establish good collaborative relationship with others, particularly the older ones in the profession.
Shote said that a professional must always accept jobs within the scope of his/her knowledge, saying that the inductees should refer such jobs to those competent to handle them.
Edited & Vetted By: Wale Ojetimi
Kaduna Govt. inaugurates local government revenue committees
The Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KDIRS) on Thursday inaugurated Local Government Revenue Committees of the 23 Local Government Areas (LGA) of the state.
Abubakar explained that the main responsibility of the committees was to carry out revenue assessment and issue demand notices.
He reminded the committee members of the barn on cash collection and urged them to work with the banks to collect revenues through their mobile agents.
He advised the committees to work with the chairmen and other staffs of the LGAs to ensure smooth revenue collection.
He urged the committee members to put in their best, adding that they would all be assessed based on their performance and anyone that failed to perform creditably, would be shown the way out.
“We will start assessing you after the first three months. Believe me, if any of you is not meeting up to expectation, even if you are my brother, I will show you the way out.
“Please, ensure that all revenue lines in local governments are efficiently collected, including land use charges.
“We have so far collected about 80 per cent of the N41 billion revenue target for 2019. We are doing our best to collect the remaining 20 per cent.
“With you on board, we are sure of meeting the N45 billion target set for 2020,” he said.
On his part, Malam Mohammed Aliyu, Chairman, Soba Local Government, commended the leadership of the revenue agency for reinvigorating the committees to boost revenue collection at local government level.
Aliyu, who is also the Chairman, Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter, assured KDIRS of the council chairmen’s full support to enable the committees carry out their task efficiently.
Edited & Vetted By: Tayo Ikujuni/Tukur Muntari.
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