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FG Set to Implement Data, Calls Tariff Hike- Minister 

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Federal Government has stated that it was set to implement the new tariff hike of five percent on calls and data.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed  confirmed the development at a stakeholders’ meeting, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja on Thursday.

 

The Minister who was represented by the Assistant Director, Tax Policy, in the Ministry, Musa Umar, noted: “The five percent excise duty has been in the Finance Act 2020, but has never been implemented”.

 

 She said government would begin the implementation of five percent excise duty tax on all voice calls, SMS and data services, in addition to the existing 7.

5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT), paid for goods and services across all sectors of the economy.

“Henceforth, the five percent excise duty will be collected by telecom operators and payment made to the federal government on a monthly basis, on or before 21st of every month.”

Concerning the five percent hike, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami had disclosed that there was a circular stating the planned hike which was addressed to his ministry and other relevant ministries and agencies of government.

The circular Referenced No. F. 17417/VI/286 dated 1st March 2022, and titled “Approval for Implementation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments” was addressed to different Ministers, including Honourable Minister, Communications and Digital Economy and other heads of government agencies.

The circular was also addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Attorney-General of The Federation, Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mines and Steel and Development; among others.

The circular signed by Mrs. Ahmed reads: “A grace of ninety (90) days commencing from the date of implementation of this circular i.e April 1, 2022, shall be granted to all importers who had opened Form M and must have entered into irrevocable trade agreement before the coming into effect of this circular to process and clear these goods at the prevailing duty rates.

“However new import transaction entered from the 1st of April 2022 will be subjected to the new import duty regime,” she said.

Recall that the Finance Act, 2020 introduced ‘Telecommunication Services’ provided in Nigeria to be liable to excise duty under Section 21 (2) of the Customs and excise tariff etc. (Consolidation) Act, CAP. C49, LFN 2004. 

A statement by the Minister’s SpecialAdviser on Media and Communications,  YunusaTanko Abdullahi noted that this development, “therefore, means that all stakeholders have by that singular provision been aware of the Act”. 

He said, “The excise duty on telecommunication services provided in Nigeria introduced through the Finance Act, 2020 with statutory enactment on 1st January, 2021 is yet to be implemented till date. 

“This is considering the need to ensure reasonable transition period before the implementation of the new tax, as well as providing clarity to all stakeholders on implementation modalities. 

“As a matter of emphasis, Mrs. Ahmed had vide Circular dated 1st March, 2022 informed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other heads of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including the Federal Ministry of Communication & Digital Economy about Mr. President’s approval of the implementation of the five percent excise duty on telecommunication services with effect from 1st June, 2022. 

“The circular provided a 90-day moratorium with effect from 1st March, 2022 before the implementation of the excise tax. Currently, the excise tax is yet to be implemented. 

“An issue as serious as the excise tariff cannot be taken single handedly, as all stakeholders and agencies have been involved including Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Association of Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), who wrote to the Ministry to be involved in the modalities for implementation of the excise duty.”

It could be recalled that Prof. Pantami rejected the planned implementation of five percent excise duty in the Nigerian telecoms sector.

He expressed his disapproval for the policy at a telecom forum in Lagos, organised by the Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS), an agency domiciled in the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

He said that he would explore every legitimate means to stop the planned five percent excise duty tax on telecom consumers, faulting the timing and process of imposing the tax on the telecom industry, insisting that part of the responsibility of a responsive government was not to increase the challenges citizens were facing.

“I have not been contacted officially. If we are, we surely will state our case. The sector that contributes to the economy should be encouraged. You introduce excise duty to discourage luxury goods like alcohol, but broadband in the telecom sector is a necessity,” he said further. 

Continuing,  the Finance Minister’s spokesman said, “zIn view of the above position of Prof. Pantami, there could be the question whether he was absented in the whole processes that resulted in the Finance Act, which is a product of both the National Assembly and Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“Suffice this to say that before the Act, the Finance Bill would have been through the FEC of which Prof. Pantami is a member and the National Assembly. In other words, he was involved in the making of the Finance Act which spells the said excise tariff hike policy. 

“Therefore, he could not obviously have had a point in his dissenting views even as the National Assembly could not have contradicted itself on this matter, because the parliament had passed the Finance Bill before President Muhammadu Buhari signed it into law. 

“Although Nigeria is celebrated as the largest economy in Africa, translating this wealth into revenues remains a challenge. Considering this in line with the provision of the revised National Tax Policy which provides the framework for a sustainable tax system that would ensure reliable sources of revenue to government and support economic development.

“Subsequently, in line with the Finance Act, the federal government introduced “Telecommunication Services” provided in Nigeria to be liable to excise duty under Section 21 (2) of the Customs and Excise Tariff etc. (Consolidation) Act, CAP. C49, LFN 2004.

“Nigeria is one of the largest telecommunication markets in Africa. Available report from the NCC shows four categories of operators, i.e. mobile (GSM), fixed telephony operators (fixed/ fixed wireless), internet service providers (ISPS) and others (operators other than mobile & fixed telephony, ISPs). 

“Subscriber number continues to grow substantially, having increased from about 180 million subscribers in 2019 to over 200 million active subscriptions in 2020. This represents an increase of over nearly 11 percent in total subscriptions. Moreover, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa such as Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana and Burundi currently imposed excise duty on telecommunication services ranging between five percent to 20 percent”.

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Non-Interest Banking: TAJBank Leads in Tier-1 Capital, PBT

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

TAJBank Limited, Nigeria’s fastest growing and technology-driven non-interest banking services provider, has again blazed a new trail in the non-interest banking space in half year 2023, posting impressive performances in financial indices, particularly in recording the highest Tier-1 capital in the sub-sector of the non-interest Banking industry in the six months period.

Similarly, the audited financial statements 

of the non-interest lender reflected a huge surge in its Profit Before Tax (PBT) to N6.

019 billion, which is the highest in the banking sub-sector and surpassed analysts’ projections.

The bank’s latest financial performance feats came barely six months after it set an industry record with the payment of dividend to its shareholders at the end of the 2022 financial year, barely three years of its debuting in the banking space.

No bank has achieved this feat in the over 100 years of banking in Nigeria.

TAJBank also made history early this year as the first corporate entity in Nigeria’s history to list the first tranche of N100 billion Sukuk Bond on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) after the successful issuance. 

A further analysis of the latest audited financial statements of the non-interest and most innovative lender in H1 2023 showed that its Total Assets rose from N212.021 billion in December 2022 to N335.017 billion at the end of June 2023, indicating a 58% increase while its Gross Earnings increased by 67% from N136.149 billion at the end of December 2022 to N227.031 billion as of the end of June this year.

Other highlights of the bank’s financial scorecard in H1 2023 reflected that the Financing also significantly increased by 62% from N78.235 billion recorded as of December 2022 to N126.725 billion in H1 2023; the Deposits base surged to N251.250 billion from N161.958 billion as of December 2022; while its Total Equity grew by 88% from N19.135 billion in December 2022 to N36.706 billion as of H1 2023.

On the bank’s superior performance in the period under review, TAJBank’s Founder/CEO, Hamid Joda, attributed the financial indices feat to the increasingly proactive strategies being adopted by the management to respond to emerging trends in non-interest banking and deployment of the right resources, especially the well-trained personnel, to meet the expectations of the bank’s customers.

He said: “What I can say about TAJBank’s latest scorecard is that we have demonstrated that hard work pays. As we have maintained over the past three years, our interest is in our customers and we are pursuing this goal with all resources available to us to tell the whole world that “TAJBank is the way to go” in non-interest banking.

“To demonstrate our commitment to this customer-friendly corporate slogan, we are investing in world-class technologies and digital payment solutions in our services nationwide. Also, in pursuit of our non-interest financial inclusion drive, we have also opened five branches this year and plan to open more in other states in the next few months”, Joda assured.

In his brief remarks, the bank’s Co-Founder/Executive Director, Mr. Sherif Idi, linked the successes to the bank’s shareholders and customers, saying that “our thanks go to our growing customers and shareholders whose belief in our vision and capacity to drive TAJBank to the leading edge of market competition has taken us this far. 

“Let me assure them that TAJBank’s management and staff will continue to do its best to serve them better and protect their interests, which we value so much in all areas of operations”, the banker added.  

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UK Court Restrains Alison-Madueke With Electronic Tag

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By Ben Atonko, Abuja

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ms Diezani Alison-Madueke was granted bail by a London court on Monday with conditions that will make her escape from the UK very difficult.

Alison-Madueke faces bribery charges filed against her by the United Kingdom (UK) government.

In August, the UK’s National Crime Agency said it suspected Alison-Madueke had accepted bribes in return for awarding multi-million-pound oil and gas contracts.

Before the charges against her by the UK government, the former minister was a subject of intense investigations and legal proceedings by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Buhari succeeded Goodluck Jonathan under whose administration Ms Alison-Madueke was Minister of Petroleum Resources and chair of the former national oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

She quickly fled Nigeria when Buhari government began investigations into her activities while in office.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had pressed a 13-count charges bordering on money laundering against her alleging that the former minister stole $2.5 billion from the Nigerian government while she was a minister.

On different occasions, the Federal High Court in Abuja issued a warrant of arrest against her as part of the process of bringing her to Nigeria to face charges.

Efforts by the Buhari eight-year administration to extradite her were futile until she was arrested in the UK over similar charges.

The District Judge Michael Snow granted her bail in terms and conditions including a curfew that ordered her to stay indoors between 11P.M. and 6P.M.

The judge ordered her to always wear an electronic tag and imposed a 70,000-pound surety to be paid before she could leave the court building on Monday.

The former minister, during her Monday appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court, spoke only to give her name, date of birth and address.

The charges against her were read out in court, but she was not asked to formally enter a plea.

Her lawyer, Mark Bowen told the court she would be pleading not guilty.

She is scheduled to have her next court appearance at Southwark Crown Court, which deals with serious criminal cases on Oct 30.

Ms Alison-Madueke allegedly received bribes as Nigeria’s petroleum minister in the form of cash, luxury goods, flights on private jets and the use of high-end properties in Britain in return for awarding oil contracts.

Prosecutor Andy Young accused her of accepting a wide range of advantages in cash and in kind from people who wanted to receive or continue to receive the award of oil contracts said to be worth billions of dollars in total.

The advantages, according to the prosecutor, included a delivery of 100,000 pounds ($121,620) in cash, the payment of private school fees for her son, and the use and refurbishment of several luxurious properties in London and in the English countryside.

They also included the use of a Range Rover car, payment of bills for chauffeur-driven cars, furniture, and purchases from the upmarket London department store Harrods and from Vincenzo Caffarella, which sells Italian decorative arts and antiques.

Mrs Alison-Madueke, aged 63, who also served as president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), was a key figure in the Nigerian government between 2010 and 2015.

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PDP Jubilates as Tribunal Sacks Nasarawa Gov

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From Benjamin Nyitamen, Lafia

Huge jubilations greeted the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lafia, Nasarawa State on Monday.

The tribunal headed by Justice Ezekiel Ajayi in a split decision annulled the declaration of Gov.

Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the March 18 election.

Mr David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared winner of the election.

 The chairman of the three-member tribunal, Justice Ezekiel Ajayi declared Ombugadu the rightful winner of the election.

Many supporters of PDP poured into streets and major roads in towns and villages singing songs of solidarity following the virtual judgment that lasted more than four hours.

The supporters who defied heavy downpour came out brandishing pictures of the Ombugadu. Women who were half naked were also jubilant.

Responding to the judgment, former Senate President Bukola Saraki tweeted, “I congratulate Hon. David Ombugadu of our great party, PDP, who has been declared the winner of the Nasarawa State Governorship election by the Nasarawa State Election Petition Tribunal.

“This judicial victory is a resounding affirmation of the people’s will and it serves as a reminder that democracy is and must always be the bedrock of our nation.”

Similarly, Gov Sule reacted saying the judgment was a temporary setback that they would learn from in order to restrategise and come out stronger.

“I still remain the governor till Supreme Court decides otherwise because the law allows me to appeal and we will do that to reclaim our mandate,” Sule said.

The governor called on his supporters to remain calm and not take laws into their hands by engaging in street protests.

He cautioned the youths and supporters of APC against responding to the opposition, especially on social media.

Justice Chiemelie Onaga, a member of the panel agreed with the lead judgment read by the panel chairman.

However, Justice Ibrahim Mashi gave a dissenting judgment, upholding the declaration of Sule by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the election.

Justice Mashi said the petitioner failed to prove his case.

Ombugadu’s counsel, Mr Johnson Usman (SAN) lauded the tribunal for a detailed judgment saying the tribunal affirmed the decision of the majority of the people of the state.

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