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NAMB Lauds Reps Position on MFBs Recapitalisation Deadline

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By Joseph Chibueze, Abuja

National Association of Microfinance Banks (NAMB) has described the House of Representatives’ stance urging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the April 2021 deadline set for the ongoing recapitalisation drive for microfinance banks based on the lingering COVID-19 pandemic-triggered disruptions of the nation’s economy as a welcome development.

The lawmakers’ advice was sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Urgent Need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the Deadline for Recapitalisation of Microfinance Banks’ moved by Hon.

Saidu Musa Abdullahi (APC – Niger State).

The decision, as the lawmakers maintained, was also not unconnected with the findings of a survey conducted by the NAMB which showed that out of 874 licensed MFBs, about 612 may be adversely affected by the re-capitalisation policy.

The House mandated the Committee on Banking and Currency to interface with the CBN to find a workable solution to the challenges associated with the recapitalisation of the MFBs and report back within four weeks for further legislative actions.

Reacting to the Green Chamber’s position at the weekend while chatting

with journalists, the national president of the NAMB, Alhaji Yusuf Ahmed Gyallesu, commended the lawmakers for the decision “in view of the current micro and macroeconomic challenges in the Nigerian economy and the implications for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises’ operations and sustainable growth.

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“NAMB sees the legislators’ advice to the apex bank as desirable for the MFBs’ subsector as it will allow licensed microfinance banks to re-strategize on their recapitalisation plans and by so doing better

position them at the vanguard of the national financial inclusion strategy (NFIS) drive to alleviate poverty at the grassroots.

“While we want to commend the CBN for its sustained policy measures to

strengthen the MFBs over the years, we shall be ready to work with the monetary authority’s leadership on how best to reschedule the

recapitalisation plans such that the implementation of the policy will ensure a win-win position for all stakeholders and the nation’s economy in the long run,” Gyallesu assured.

Earlier before adopting the motion at Plenary, the lawmakers noted that the apex bank had in October 2018 reviewed the minimum share capital requirement of the three categories of MFBs.

Under the revised template, Unit Microfinance Banks’ minimum capital requirement was raised from N20 million to N200 million; State MFBs’ from N100 million to N1 billion and National MFBs from N2 billion to

N5 billion.

The lawmakers also noted that on March 18, 2019, the CBN further reviewed the minimum capital requirements for MFBs, allowing for installment payment and categorisation of Unit Microfinance into tiers 1 and 2, thus following the new capital requirement guideline.

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The House noted tier 1 MFBs (Urban) are to pay N200 million as a minimum capital requirement while tier 2 (Rural) is to pay N50 million as against the initial N200 million requirements in 2018.

Business News

No Tax Waivers for Local, Foreign Investors-FIRS

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By Joseph Chibueze, Abuja

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has said it had no policy that grants tax waivers to any local or foreign investors in the country as its enabling Act did not empower it to grant such tax breaks.

 


Executive Chairman, Mohammed Nami disclosed this Abuja on Friday in during his appearance before the House of Representatives’  Public Accounts Committee investigating alleged tax waivers granted to three foreign firms operating in the country.


 The firms are Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and OIS Indorama Eleme Port-Harcourt.


“The FIRS does not have the power or responsibility of facilitating or implementing incentives to local investors or investors coming through the Foreign Direct Investment platform, which is the sole prerogative of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)”, a statement from FIRS by Director of Communications and Liaison, Dr Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad quoted Nami to have told the panel.

 Nami pointed out that “the investigation of the three foreign firms, Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and OIS Indorama Eleme Port-Harcourt, started way back in 2015. The committee in charge of the investigation has consistently been furnished with all required documents by the FIRS”. 

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He further stated that the companies under consideration “have been variously granted pioneer status between December 15th, 1997 to 2016 for the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd and between 2017 – 2020 for the Indorama Fertilizer and Chemicals Ltd respectively”. According to him “upon expiration of the pioneer period and conclusion of post pioneer Audit, the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd company’s tax file was returned to the Large Tax Office (LTO) Port Harcourt.

Thus far, the company has filed its annual returns up to 31st December 2019 with relevant Self-Assessment and paid its attendant liabilities”.


He, therefore,  pleaded with the Public Accounts Committee “to always avail itself of the opportunity to work closely with the custodians of FIRS records, such as the Coordinating Directors, Directors and Tax Controllers as do other House Committees like the Committee on Finance, to enhance its investigation at any time.”


Recall that the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts had written a letter of invitation dated 27th May 2021 to the Executive Chairman of the FIRS to appear at its public hearing slated for 9 June 2021 on alleged revenue leakages involving the three foreign firms. However, the FIRS Executive Chairman could not honour the Committee’s summons on that date due to other pressing engagements which included Board meetings.

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Appearing in person on the rescheduled date,  Nami noted with satisfaction the cordial relationship between the FIRS and the legislators since he assumed office in December 2019.
 He seized the opportunity to reiterate that “the mandate of the FIRS is to assess, collect and account for tax revenue.” This mandate, he stressed, “is clear and unambiguous.”


  Nami used the opportunity to call for a continuous cordial working relationship between the National Assembly and the FIRS  “especially in this critical time when tax revenue has become crucial to the operations of the three tiers of government.” He assured that the FIRS under his watch “is very keen on collaborating with the Honourable Members of the Committee and other critical stakeholders in the National Assembly on the Automatic Exchange of Information on tax evasion, tax avoidance and other related issues.”


  Nami concluded his remarks by emphasising that he remained focused on the task of revenue collection which the Federal Government had assigned him to undertake. This task, he noted, “has its challenges, more so with the ravaging impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and the overall economy. The Management of FIRS is working assiduously to achieve the revenue target set for it by the Federal Government and is not relenting in that objective”.

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Business News

Nexim Bank Launches $50m Export Programme for Women, Youths

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By Joseph Chibueze, Abuja and Haruna Aliyu Usman, Birnin -Kebbi

The Nigeria Export Import (NEXIM) Bank has lauched a $50 million
export lending programme for women and youths in Kebbi State.


Managing Director of the bank, Alhaji Abba Bello in his speech at the
launch which took place at Birnin Kebbi on Thursday said apart from
providing funds for the beneficiaries, the bank was also going to
provide training for them.


He said Kebbi State is the second place the bank was launching the
programme after Abuja. According to him, the choice of Kebbi was
because of the enthusiasm shown by some group of young enterprenuers
whom he said already had their business plans ready.


He explained that women and youths have been denied opportunities like
this because of lack of capacity to prepare bankable business plan.
The NEXIM Bank boss said the scheme which is a collaboration between
Nexim and Afriexim banks have made available $50 million dollars to
build capacities of potential exporters to make them becomes export
gurus.

He noted that, they intend to cover the entire country but with more
emphasis on women and youth who already forms almost 85 per cent of
the country’s population.

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“When the country is fully covered Nigeria will witness a huge export
boost within the next few years,” he said adding that every citizen
especially youths and women who can come up with reasonable business
plan, Nexim bank is ready to provide the needed financing.


He challenged the youths and women to come forward with bankable
business ideas to access the available funds.

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Business News

Nigeria to Earn $700m Annually from Sugar – Dangote

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Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has said Nigeria could earn 700 million dollars foreign exchange annually through implementation of the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) from sugar production.

Chairman, Dangote Sugar Refinery, Aliko Dangote, said this at the company’s 15th Annual General Meeting yesterday in Lagos.

Dangote said that allowing for distortions in the sugar masterplan framework would adversely affect the target of the nation attaining self-sufficiency as projected.

He said the policy would not only reduce imports of raw sugar but save the nations enormous foreign exchange used for importation.

Expressing his delight with the BIP, Dangote, however, noted that if the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan was fully implemented and the players adhered strictly to the rules, Nigeria would save between $600 million and $700 million annually as foreign exchange.

“The backward integration policy of Dangote Sugar Refinery is recording appreciable progress and we will remain committed to the policy,” he said.

Addressing shareholders, he said, in spite of the disruptions in the economy occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced an increase in production volume which rose by 13.7 percent to 743,858 tonnes in the review period from 654,071 tonnes in 2019.

Dangote noted that the company posted a group turnover of N214.3 billion against  N161.1 billion in 2019.

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He added that the sugar group posted a 6.9 per cent increase in sales volume from 684,487 tonnes in 2019 to 731,701 tonnes in 2020.

Hence, the board of the company declared a total dividend payment of N18.22 billion to the shareholders, amounting to N1.50 per ordinary share of 50k each.

He explained the improvements were attributable to operations optimisation strategy in spite of the disruption caused by civil unrest in last quarter of the year.

“Our growth continued to benefit from the sustained efforts to drive customer base expansion and several trade initiatives and investments.

“Gross profit increased by 40.4 percent to N53.75 billion, compared to N38.29 billion in 2019 while group profit after tax for the year increased by 33.2 percent to N26.70 billion against N22.36 billion in 2019, reflecting management’s unrelenting goal to deliver consistent shareholder value,” he said.

Dangote said the company had revised its sugar production target to 550,000 metric tonnes achievable by 2024 in line with the revised plan of the BIP by the Federal Government.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ravindra Singhvi, speaking on the results said the sugar group continued the growth path with commitments to improve performance and generate value for all stakeholders.

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Singhvi explained that this was reflected in the sales volume delivery of 731,701 tonnes, and production of 743,858 tonnes being 6.9 per cent and 13.7 per cent increase in volumes over the comparative year 2019. (NAN)

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