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FIRS targets 45m tax payers by Dec – Fowler

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 Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says about 45 million Nigerians will be captures as taxpayers before the end of the year.

Mr Babatunde Fowler, Chairman, Joint Tax Board (JTB), said this on Thursday in Ilorin while speaking at the flag-off of the new TIN registration system and consolidated National Taxpayers’ Database for North Central Geopolitical zone.

“Over the last four years, the economic policies of the current administration have focused on establishing a stable foundation for socio-economic growth and development.

“With the astute leadership of Mr. President, the milestones achieved bears ample testimony on the impact that has been made, not only in tax-revenue administration, but in the environment of doing business in Nigeria,” he said.

Fowler listed the accomplishments to include expansion of tax base from 10 million to 20 million taxpayers with the potential for an increase of up to 45 million before year end.

Fowler, who is also FIRS Chairman, said Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection at the sub-national level grew exponentially by 46.11 per cent from N800.02 billion in 2016 to N1.16 trillion in 2018.

He also said FIRS tax collections grew by 53.9 per cent from N3.3 trillion in 2016 to N5.32 trillion being the highest collection ever in the history of FIRS.

Fowler added that N2.85 trillion was collected as Non- Oil Revenue which accounted for 54 per cent of total revenue collection.

The JTB chairman aid Federal Government paid a total of N135.8 billion as outstanding PAYE tax liabilities owed by Federal MDAs to States from 2002 to 2016 with a total of N31.08 billion paid to the States in the North-Central zone.

“We are confident that this gesture by the Federal Government will encourage State Government to also reciprocate and promptly remit all withholding Taxes and VAT due to the Federation Account.

“A positive movement during the same period is Nigeria moving up 25 points in Tax Administration Section of World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business’.

“This positive progression is also reinforced by the recent listing of Nigeria as one of the ‘top 20 reformers in Doing Business for the year 2020 by the World Bank.

“We expect that more positive country reports will be released by the time the full report by the World Bank is released on October 24th, 2019,” Fowler said.

He said the new TIN Registration System would improve on the efficiency and output of the entire tax administration process.

“It is also meant to provide enhanced convenience to the taxpayers as well as the tax administrators while guaranteeing that each taxpayer’s details are readily available to them at their fingertips at all times and anywhere,” Fowler added.

According to him, the new system possesses the capability to integrate with all relevant agencies by leveraging on already captured data.

He added that the new system also reduces the burden of taxpayer information management and cost of collection.

“The new system maintains the identification of an individual taxpayer via assigning of a unique and universal Taxpayers Identification Number (TIN).

“Unlike the old system, it is now possible for any taxpayer to view, retrieve or update his/her tax profile from anywhere 24/7,” Fowler said.

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Senate passes amended oil production sharing contract law

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*Targets N1.5bn annual revenue
*Slams N500m penalty/5yrs jail term on defaulters 
Senate yesterday passed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 with expected revenue projection of N1.5billion annually.
This was as the upper chamber has raised the penalty for defaulters of this law from N20million fine or one year imprisonment to N500million fine or an option of Five years imprisonment.
President Muhammadu Buhari had  at the commencement of Tuesday’s plenary, transmitted a letter to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan seeking amendment of the Act for urgent assent.
The President’s letter coincided with the Senate consideration of the report of Senate’s joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream), Gas, Finance, and Judiciary, Human Rights and  Legal Matters on the Bill for final passage.
Passing the bill titled: “Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2019 “for second reading Tuesday, the Senate introduced sections 17 and 18 into it for appropriate penalties against violation of section 16  of the Act.
In his  report, chairman of the joint committee, Senator Albert Akpan Bassey (PDP Akwa Ibom North East), explained that the committee’s recommendation “alters the royalty payable by the PSC contractors such that whenever oil and gas price increases, the share of government also increases automatically with the inception of the newly introduced royalty by price mechanism.
 The bill, he informed provides that whenever oil price goes above US$20 per barrel, the royalty by price shall kick in so that government can participate in reaping the benefits of increase in oil price.
“Another significant recommendation contained in our report is that every PSC company operating in our deep offshore shall pay appropriate royalty to government irrespective of the terrain or water depth in which they operate.”
Consequently, he noted: “This will mark the end of zero royalty in our deep offshore and will greatly improve government revenue.
“The Joint Committee report also contains recommendations for 10 yearly review of the PSCs as well as offences and penalty clause to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act. This means that Nigeria will never lose revenue again just because no one cared to activate the provisions of the extant law.
“Mr. President and Distinguished Colleagues, the Joint Committee report contains this long-awaited amendment of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act Cap 03 LFN 2004. This amendment will ensure that the share of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in the additional revenue is adjusted to the extent that the PSCs shall be economically beneficial to Nigeria.”
The Bill which most senators considered he fastest ever passed on the floor of the Senate went through clause by clause consideration and finally scaled through third and final passage.
Fielding questions from journalists after passage of the bill, Senators Akpan and Ubah said the adjustment in the penalty for defaulters of the law when assented to by President Buhari ranges  from one jail term or a fine of N20million by the joint committee to five year imprisonment or N500million fine was by committee of the whole.
It would be recalled that Senator Ubah had on October 2,2019 brought to he consciousness his colleagues at plenary  through a motion on the loss  of a whooping sum of N7trillion to the nation’s economy through the multi-National oil companies on the  non-review of Production Sharing Contracts by the Joint Ventures Companies, JVC.
Senator Ubah, in the motion which was co-sponsored by 27 other lawmakers, informed the Senate that salient provisions of the contractual agreements between Nigeria and the affected oil firms , have not been adhered to by parties concerned  which according to him, had bled the nation’s economy to the tune of $21billion, equivalent of N7trillion.
The N7trillion loss, according to him, were revenues that supposed to have accrued  into the federation account from shares Nigeria supposed to have gotten from the oil firms anytime oil price rises above $20 per barrel as provided for in section 16 of the Production Sharing Contract Oil.
He added that the required periodic reviews that are supposed to be done on the Act in 2008, 2013 and 2018 as provided for in the Act, were not carried out with attendant further loses on the part of Nigerian government .
Consequently, an amendment bill seeking for penalties against the fraud , was tabled and passed for first reading on the floor of the Senate on Thursday last week was sponsored by Senators Akpan and Ubah respectively.
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Group urges Buhari to restrict importation of roofing sheets, others

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The Federal Government has been advised to adopt policy framework that will lead to the restriction of importation of goods such galvanized roofing sheets and other steel products that are abundantly produced in Nigeria to further boost the nation’s economy.

With the land border closure, it is evident that agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy has improved, therefore, it is a tested hypothesis that if adequate attention is given to the seaports operations, smuggling will be tackled and the steel sector will be saved from collapse.

The Galvanized Iron and Steel Manufacturers’ Association, (GISMA) in a statement signed by its Spokesperson, Mr. Lateef Bello, on Wednesday noted that the boarder closure has brought more economic benefits to the nation.

GISMA noted that the revenue declared by the authority of Nigeria Customs Service, (NSC) is commendable stressing that more can still be achieved through holistic approach to the ongoing smuggling of roofing sheets and other steel products.

According to the statement, “For President Muhammadu Buhari to actualize the many targets as contained in the 2020 appropriation bill presented before the joint session of National Assembly, there is need to place absolute restriction on items made in Nigeria. At the moment, it is saddened to note that smuggled roofing sheets of low standards have flooded Nigerian markets at the detriment of local manufacturers and unsuspecting consumers.

“Going by the experience of some emerging economies in the world such as Malaysia and Singapore, no items produced in these two countries are allowed to be imported and the restriction policy has accelerated their Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) as well as their security techniques.

“It is important to take comparative advantage of this policy to further relief Nigerians of the sufferings and unemployment persisting in the nation. Iron and Steel industry if well protected, is capable of generating an average of 20,000 jobs yearly with significant turnover on the Internally Generated Revenue for the government.”

The group however appealed to President Buhari to take bold steps towards salvaging the economic interest of local manufacturers as well as curbing insecurity which has ravaged some states in the North-East. This was part of our public outcries during a peaceful protest held recently in Kaduna; we thank Mr. President for heeding to our plights.

“In as much as we want to encourage President Muhammadu Buhari to beef up more surveillance on Nigerian Boarder Control System, it is pertinent for the federal government and other relevant agencies to ensure that importation of goods are carried out through Premier Ports with full documentations and follow-ups”, he added.

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SOAN Advocates Stringent Measures Against Illegal High Sea Poachers

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Aminat Isah, Abuja
Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) have frowned at the continuous over-fishing and unregulated fishing by illegal high sea poachers who are mainly foreign vessels.
Margret Onyema-Orakwusi, speaking to newsmen at the on-going Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) said it is unacceptable to have foreigners invade the Nigerian waters and encroach on her natural resources and losing billions of dollars annually.
She noted that if the irresponsible manner with which the illegal fishing is done, it becomes very unfortunate as there are regulations in fishing which must be complied with.
“My question then is,  we have these poachers that come to our waters without compliance to any known international or local law , they steal,  they fish in a very irresponsible manner which means they sweep from bottom to top because they have nothing at stake in our waters and they  leave and find markets for those products running into billions of dollars annually.”
She further lamented that the cost of Maritime security which she said is very expensive and making it easy for piracy, and  the poarchers who are winning the war in the sea.
“How do we pull back and know some other methods of not encouraging what they are doing, of not allowing them sell their products and that is what we have been trying to advocate.
“The stolen products where are they finding market,  what banking institutions do they use that they are  not being accused of money laundering or that accommodates proceeds of crime,  because for those of us who do it the right way,  you have to invite getting your payment anywhere,  tell the history of the fund.
“Why are the thieves getting  away with it,  is it an international conspiracy?  So if we are not able to face the poachers in the high sea we should be able to force the financial institutions to be more prudent,  ask questions,  we have the law of money laundering all over the world,” she said.
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