38 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Tuesday 06March 2018 NEWS Senate, Reps sign NFIU bill, to present report for adoption KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja Finally, the Conference Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives has endorsed the report on the bill seeking to establish Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). Chairmen and members of the Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption as well as House Committee on Financial Crimes signed the Conference Committee report yesterday. The recommendations of Conference Committee are expected to be laid before the Senate and House on resumption at plenary Tuesday. The bill seeks to establish Continued from page 1 we will name and shame and also prosecute tax evaders. Aso Rock and Finance Ministry have the political will and data to go after tax evaders who fail to take advantage of the tax amnesty,” Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance said in a recent tweet. Nigeria had signed the Multilateral Competent Authority on Common Reporting Standards, which allows for exchange of financial account information. Abuja had engaged a leading international Asset Tracing and Investigation Agency (Kroll), to trace and track illicit flows and assets. The Federal Government committed decision to name, shame and also prosecute tax evaders has swayed many taxpayers and analysts in Nigerians to consider the reputational risks. Developing countries, including Nigeria, collect significantly lower levels of tax, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), than wealthier States. NFIU and grant it operational and financial autonomy. BusinessDay gathered that most of the clauses in the House bill were adopted by the Conference Committee except for few from the Senate. The Committee also adopted the Senate recommendation that the NFIU should be domiciled in Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Recall that the House bill proposed that the NFIU should be domiciled in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Federal Government through the Budget Office of the Federation and Accountant General of the Federation had during the preparation of the 2018 budget estimates approved financial and operations autonomy of Taxman invades banks for data as... NFIU. Speaking recently, Francis Usani, NFIU director, who presented the NFIU’s budget to House Committee on Financial Crimea, said total sum of N2.903 billion was proposed for 2018. Breakdown of the budget showed that the sum of N339.350 million is for personnel cost; N22.500 million is for meals and refreshment to cater for numerous sub-regional, national and internal meetings, while the sum of N26.500 million is required for publicity and advertisement for stakeholders in the financial sector. “We will continue to be committed in the NFIU to doing our best and remaining the champion FIU within the West President Muhammadu Buhari (r), with the visiting President George Weah of Liberia briefing State House Correspondents after their meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. NAN This is partly because the income and wealth being created, is taken out of the country illegally, without being taxed. “It is therefore imperative for HNIs, VIPs, and indeed all taxable individuals, to be aware of how critical it is to take advantage of VAIDS while the window remains open. Companies will also need to step up their background checks and compliance monitoring on their Executive and Non-Executive Directors to prevent reputational damage that may be associated with tax prosecution,” according to Deloitte’s team of private wealth management. Though, they noted that the depth of available information on the HNIs and VIPS will become staggering as soon as Nigeria receives its first data exchange under the newly signed automatic exchange of information. “The UK has also signed “Unexplained Wealth Order” (UWO) which became effective in January 2018. Under UWO, properties in the UK with no justifiable source of earnings and evidence of tax payment in country of residence will be forfeited to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). There are fears that Nigerians will be largely affected by this Order,” according to Deloitte. Ahead of the tax amnesty deadline, official of the Federal Government have been sensitising Nigerians on the benefits and rewards of honest asset declarations and tax payment, urging them to take advantage of the opportunity to declare their assets and income and regularise their tax affairs. “The Government can now profile people. Their income, properties and as well as their bank accounts are monitored to know how they get their wealth,” Adeosun said at a recent VAIDS sensitisation workshop in Kaduna. Nigeria’s tax-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio at just 6 percent compares to India (16percent), Ghana (15.9percent), and South Africa (27percent). Most developed nations have tax-to-GDP ratios of between 32percent and 35percent. African sub-region and Africa as a whole. And with the kind of support you have shown to us, we will remain focused in our mandate to support all LEAs Buhari to tour Yobe, Benue, Taraba after... Continued from page 1 northeast. His tour will begin in the“Middle Belt” state of Taraba, where herdsmen have farmers have fought over dwindling arable land, his office said. He will also visit the central state of Benue and Zamfara in the northwest - both hit by fighting over grazing in recent weeks, along with Rivers state in the south, and Yobe. “The president has decided to undertake an on the spot assessment of the various occurrences and to meet and console the communities affected,” the presidency said. The presidency did not say whether Buhari would visit Dapchi on his trip to Yobe. Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, was criticised for failing to quickly visit Chibok, the scene of another mass abduction of schoolgirls in 2014. That was seized upon by his detractors in the 2015 election campaign. The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had already called on Buhari to visit Dapchi in the days following the abduction. Boko Haram, which has killed tens of thousands of people since 2009 in its bid to create an Islamic state, lost most of its territory in the face of an offensive by Nigeria’s army backed by troops from neighbouring countries in early 2015. But factions of the group have continued to carry out suicide bomb attacks and gun raids in the northeast, Cameroon, Niger and Chad since then. The violence linked to grazing rights has killed more than 100 people since the start of the year. Buhari’s move comes as his popularity falls amid calls by powerful ex-generals for him not to run “Our tax to GDP ratio is one of the lowest in the world. The right thing to do is to take advantage of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme to regularise your tax status,” the Federal Government noted. “For Nigeria to achieve key fundamental growth and development, we need to raise our tax-to-GDP ratio,” said Babatunde Fowler, chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the tax authorities of the 36 states under Joint Tax Board (JTB) launched the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) on July 1, 2017. The Scheme is aimed at ascertaining many taxpayers outstanding tax liability for payment or making them face criminal prosecution at the expiration of the grace period. Penalties for non-compliance include: liability to pay in full, the principal sum due, all interest and penalties due (10-100percent of the tax due or forfeiture of related asset); and criminal prosecution in accordance with relevant extant laws, including in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world to fight against financial crimes and money laundering as well and terrorism financing,” Usani said. in next year’s election. The secret visit, Thursday, of former Chief of Army Staff, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) to former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, shows a crystallisation of the opposition against the president’s re-election bid. Danjuma flew into Minna on Thursday and drove straight to Babangida Hiltop mansion where the duo met for four straight hours behind closed doors discussing what sources close to the Generals said was the current security and political situations in the country. The meeting is being seen as part of a coordinated onslaught on the president by a cabal of retired generals who are unimpressed with his administration and want him to stand down at the end of his first term in office and not seek re-election again in 2019. Although General Danjuma has been quiet, sources close to him says the ex-General has been less than impressed with the provincial and nepotic style of president Buhari. His state of Taraba has also been badly hit by the Fulani herdsmen killings, which the federal government has shown little capacity and or willingness to handle. In July 2017 however, Danjuma was part of the National Christian Elders Forum, made up mostly of retired army Generals, which blamed the Buhari administration for the proliferation of ethnic crises and secession agitations in the country. It also accused the Buhari administration of deliberately disregarding the constitution and federal character in appointments. The forum also condemned the handling of the herdsmen/farmers crisis, and warned that extremists were pushing a jihadist agenda. up to 5 years in jail. Other penalties facing tax defaulters include withdrawal of any reliefs, which may have been granted to the participant; liability to undergo comprehensive tax audit; and relating to undisclosed information, any sum voluntarily declared may be counted as part payment of outstanding tax. Federal Government insists that tax evasion is one of the easiest cases to prosecute. Adeosun had advised tax payers to demand for written notice when they receive phone calls from tax officials. She gave the advice in response to the activities of some fake tax officials alleging to be officials of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme. “My attention has been drawn to reports of some unidentified tax officials requesting for bank details and address of tax payers. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the tax office, do not panic. Ask them to send you a written notice. Do not provide any details like your address or bank details,” the minister said in a statement on Sunday.
Tuesday 06March 2018 Nigeria records $591m loss, 17,500 deaths annually from tobacco consumption HARRISON EDEH & CYNTHIA EGBOBOH Sub-regional coordinator for West Africa Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Hilda Ochefu, says Nigeria records an estimate of $591 million worth of economic loss and 17,500 deaths yearly from tobacco consumption. This comes as experts are raising concerns and pointing out that the Federal Government appears to lack the political will to tackle the excess usage of tobacco in Nigeria. Speaking at a policy dialogue on the economics of tobacco taxation held recently in Abuja, Hilda said an average of 600,000 pre-mature deaths were caused by passive tobacco consumption annually, and of these deaths 31 percent occurred among children and 64 percent among women. Meanwhile, the views of some experts show that the government is managing effects of tobacco consumption on the health of the people because of the acclaimed tax NDDC to set up four agric processing mills in Akwa Ibom IGNATIUS CHUKWU Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it is set to establish one agricultural processing mill in each of the four federal constituencies making up Akwa Ibom State. The Commission may start with North-West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District as a pilot scheme. Managing director of the Commission, Nsima Ekere, an indigene of the state, said this on Saturday in Uyo while playing host to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District Women Forum. Of the four, three palm oil processing mills would be located in Ukanafun/Oruk Anam, Ikot Ekpene/Obot Akara/Essien Udim and Ikono/Ini Federal Constituencies while a garri processing mill is to be sited in Abak/ they pay and the social responsibilities performed by these tobacco companies. Research shows that tobacco companies pay excise tax of 20 percent on a unit cost of production and 5 percent VAT. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends an excise tax of 75 percent. Looking at the aggregate market consumption, Nigeria consumes 18.4 billion sticks of cigarettes annually of which 12.2 billion sticks are domestically produced. Chukwuka Onyekewena, director, Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), said there was need for effective control of tobacco, noting that tobacco consumption accounted for 17,500 deaths yearly in Nigeria. He however recommended that the government should adopt a specific taxation system, increase import levy to 50 percent of Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) per pack of cigarette, and promote tobacco education programmes. Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency. Ekere disclosed that the pilot scheme would be replicated in other parts of the state in due course. The NDDC boss used the opportunity to call on members of the forum yet to register as voters to take advantage of the Continuous Voter Registration exercise of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stressing that “in 2019, there will be voting and votes will count.” He urged the women to continue to support President Muhammadu Buhari, pointing out that the President had shown much love for the people of the Niger Delta as reflected in the number of appointments given to indigenes of the region and the location of key projects including the coastal rail line from Calabar to Lagos. C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 39 NEWS Nigeria, Liberia $5m trade volume, too low - Weah ONYINYE NWACHUKWU, Abuja ‘Private sector investment will strengthen technical competence among youths’ KELECHI EWUZIE Industry expert insists that continuous investment by private sector in educational development is the best solution for Nigeria if it hopes to grow the next generation of technically competent youths for national development Ismaila Zakari, president, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), says strategic investment of the institute is guided by its determination to add value, build capacity and improve the educational standard in the country. Zakari stated this when the ICAN donated laptops and accounting textbooks to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Benson Idahosa University, Benin City; Paul University, Awka; Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra; Delta State Polytechnic, Oghara; Federal College of Education (Technical), Lagos, and Lagos State University, Lagos. Making the presentation to the institutions in Lagos, the ICAN president explained that Nigeria was currently having its fair share of the global downturn, the impact of which had adversely affected all sectors of the economy - most especially the educational sector, which appears to be the worst hit. “As a professional body committed to technical excellence and in line with its statutory mandate of setting standards and regulating the practice of accountancy in the country, the Institute proactively reacts to these challenges by instituting policies to support the growth and development of accounting education in Nigeria,” he said. pand your territory, threaten your neighbours, or de-stabilise any sovereign nation in the region.” The former international footballer, sworn in as president in January, blamed much of his country’s economic crisis on declining prices of the country’s major exports and unfavourable foreign exchange rate. “The prices of our two basic export commodities, rubber and iron ore, continue to fall on the world diminished market. Our foreign exchange earnings from the export of these and other commodities are used mainly on the importation of food and other commodities, causing massive trade deficits. Youth unemployment is at an alltime high, and prices of basic commodities continue to increase. “Our people have voted for change, and for hope. And change is finally here. But mere political change is meaningless without development, prosperity, and growth. Your Excellency, we L-R: Olusola Adeyeye, Senate chief whip; Mojisola Adeyeye, director-general, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, president, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy, and Ifeanyi Atueyi, vice president, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy, at the special reception in honor of the two distinguished fellows by the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy, which held at the Lagos. According to Zakari, “It is instructive to stress that apart from setting standard and regulating the practice of accountancy in the country, the Institute ensures that its potential members receive appropriate and qualitative technical and academic training, which could be bench marked against global standards.” He said further that it was in appreciation of the role of information technology on the accountancy profession and the dearth of study materials for accounting students that propelled the Institute to commit funds into the acquisition of computers and textbooks to assist the accountancy students in tertiary Institutions in pursuit of Information Technology (IT) skills as well as having insight into the relevant accounting software. … seeks over 6,000 teachers from Nigeria BoI disburses N362m to 75 MSMEs in Benue HARRISON EDEH, Abuja Bank of Industry (Bol) has presented N362 million cheque to the first batch of the beneficiaries of the N2 billion-Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) development fund in Benue State. Benue State and the BoI had last year signed a pact on the N2 billion matching fund to boost the entrepreneurial potentials of citizens in the state. Under the financing model, both parties gave commitment to contribute N1 billion each for on-lending to mainly businesses that have high employment generating potentials and value addition to local raw materials. This is as the bank announced that over 28 other businesses have been grant- need Nigeria’s help to jumpstart our economy,” he told Buhari at a press briefing after their closed-door bilateral talks. Weah also used the opportunity to invite Nigerian investors to explore opportunities in Liberia, saying, “Liberia is now open for business to the Nigerian private sector. There is a need to address the current volume of trade between our two countries, which is very low and does not exceed $5 million, by some estimates. “Yet, the Liberian banking sector is dominated by Nigerian banks, and I am made to understand that their head offices in Nigeria may be considering reducing their support or even shutting them down because of the recent downturn in our economy. If this is true, l urge them not to do so, as l am optimistic that trade and commerce will increase in the near future. “There are also major shortcomings in the electricity and power sectors, in road construction, in housing, in mining, and in fisheries, to ed N1.5 billion from its own direct funds. Speaking during the cheque presentation, the bank’s managing director, Olukayode Pitan, said in a statement that the 38 loan beneficiaries were those that met the bank’s pre-disbursement conditions. Saying that the matching fund was capable of developing small and medium scale enterprises in the state, Pitan urged other businesses in the state to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the scheme. As part of the moves to ensure effective utilisation of the loans, the BoI boss said two-week entrepreneurship training would be organised to build the capacity of the beneficiaries. He said, “The partnership with the Benue State government goes beyond providing loans. As part of President George Weah of Liberia, on Monday, said the current trade volume between his country and Nigeria estimated to be at $5 million was too low. Speaking at a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Weah admitted that his country’s economy was dwindling but would need Nigeria’s private sector to remain afloat. He also appealed to Nigerian banks to rethink plans to shut done their businesses in Liberia as a result of the dwindling economy, assuring of his administration’s commitment to revamp the economy, he said would benefit investors in the country. Appreciating Nigeria for restoring peace to Liberia and helping reform Liberian military after the country’s civil war, he said, “although yours is the largest economy in Africa, with the most powerful army in our sub-region, you have never used your wealth and military prowess to exname a few, that could be of serious interest to Nigerian investors, either as individuals or companies, or through joint-ventures or public-private partnerships.” The Liberian leader said his administration’s ‘Pro-Poor Development Agenda,’ intend to tackle the many economic and social problems he inherited, especially infrastructure deficits, youth unemployment, and reviving the education, agriculture, mining and health sectors, for which Nigeria’s assistance would be greatly appreciated. “Your sustained technical assistance for capacity building in these sectors is most welcome. For example, Nigerian teachers and medical volunteers to Liberia, under the Technical Aid Corps (TAC) Agreement with Liberia, have been very crucial in boosting capacity development in Liberia, and it is my hope that this assistance can be considerably increased to address with urgency our most pressing socio-economic needs at this time. the package, all beneficiaries will undergo two weeks entrepreneurship training to help their capacity to manage these businesses successfully.” He, however, warned the beneficiaries against deploying the fund to areas not envisaged by the scheme, stressing, “We like to remind them to take seriously their obligations to repay the loans so that others can benefit.” While also giving details on the involvement of the bank in other schemes aimed at developing economic activities in the state, he stated that the bank had granted loans of over N1.5 billion to businesses across sectors such as food processing, fruit juice processing, piggery, yam/cassava flour, rice processing, fashion designing, and quarries/ solid minerals.