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Economy

Auditor General indicts MTN  over evasion of Customs duty since 2021

 

—–as House of Reps knocks FIRS over operational infractions

The Office of the Auditor General of Federation has indicted the telecom giant, MTN, over evasion of payment of Customs duties since 2021.

This was contained in the 2019 queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation which was made available to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts.
The committee also heard that the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS)  received capital allowances claims by taxpayers without the certificate of acceptance from the ministry of trade and industries in 2019.

Speaking at the resumed hearing of the investigations on queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation against the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) of the Federal Government, the Chairman of the committee Hon Oluwole Oluwole Oke, lamented the level of external borrowings by the federal government, saying that the committee’s probe of public funds was aimed at curtailing revenue leakages to boost government treasury.

His statement was coming against the backdrop of tax evasion by the telecom service provider, MTN whose current assets stand at N2.68 trillion in the country, yet does not have proof of customs duty over the years.

The lawmakers also decried the issuance of an assets certificate by the Ministry of Trade and investment to the telecommunication firm without first evaluating their assets.

Following the failure of the MTN representative to tender the relevant documents to buttress his position that the company was up to date, the committee resolved to write the Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) to furnish it with relevant documents, including MTN duty permit so as to ascertain the total amount it owes government since 2001.

Hon Oke, therefore, directed the Clerk of the Committee to write to the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service on the financial indebtedness of the firm to the federal government.

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Economy

Removal of tariffs on importation of rice, other food items not yet ratified by President Tinubu — Presidency 

The Eyewitness Reporter 
The Presidency has debunked a widely circulated news that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has granted duty-free importation of some staple food items, including rice.
The presidency officials clarified that the matter is just a proposal to President Tinubu by the economic team as part of the measure to address the food crisis ravaging the country.

A leaked memo which circulated on Monday, July 8th, 2024 had said that the government of President Bola Tinubu was considering suspending tariffs on rice and other food commodities’ imports for 150 days to rein in hunger nationwide.

According to the leaked official document, Abubakar Kyari, minister of agriculture and food security, had in a statement earlier on Monday,  said duties, tariffs and taxes on imported maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas — through land and sea borders — have been suspended.

Kyari, in the memo, said a 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities will be enforced as part of measures to be implemented over the next 180 days to ameliorate food inflation in Nigeria.

According to him, the measures are part of the accelerated stabilisation and advancement plan recently presented to President Bola Tinubu by the economic management team (EMT) under the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC) constituted by the president in March.

The minister has said in the leaked memo that multiple taxes and levies, infrastructural challenges and “sheer profiteering by marketers and traders” have contributed to rising food prices.

But Presidential spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, who had earlier posted the policy proposal on his official X handle but quickly deleted it a few minutes after later clarified that the memo was already circulating across government departments, but said the policy was not imminent as of Monday evening.
He also noted that the leakage of the memo was a regrettable error.

“The policy was mistakenly circulated,” Onanuga said on Monday evening.

 “We are still deliberating internally from the agric ministry to other agencies on how best to proceed with the policy.”

Onanuga apologised for the error and said the government was not oblivious to its potential impact on long-suffering Nigerians.

The retracted policy draft said the measures would be implemented over the next 150 days and involve relaxing duties, tariffs and taxes on importing certain food commodities through land and sea borders.

It would be recalled that the Tinubu government is facing growing anger among Nigerians over its failure to address endemic food shortages urgently, even as inflation hovered at historically high figures.

On Monday, a frustrated citizen attempted to jump to his death from a 40-metre-high radio transmitter over a worsening economic crisis.

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Economy

How I fought local, international oil mafia that tried to sabotage our refinery project- Dangote

The Eyewitness Reporter 
The Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has accused those he described as oil mafia of trying to sabotage the refinery project.

Dangote who was speaking at the Afreximbank annual meetings (AAN) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Wednesday, said the group he labeled as stronger than the mafia in drug, tried several times to stop the project from becoming a reality.

“Well, I knew that there would be a fight. But I didn’t know that the mafia in oil, they are stronger than the mafia in drugs,” he said.

When asked if the group is local or foreign, he said, “Both. There is a local one and a global one. It is all mixed up. They tried all sorts but you know, I’m a person that has been fighting all my life. So, I think it’s part of my life to fight.”

‘We’ll end up winning’

Despite the battles, Dangote believes victory is assured.

“I think we will end up winning because the population and the government will be on our side because what we are doing is right,” Dangote said during the event.

In January, the Dangote refinery started production in an event the company described as a “big day for Nigeria”.

“Dangote Petroleum Refinery has commenced production of diesel and aviation fuel,” the group said. “This is a big day for Nigeria. We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone.”

The 650,000 barrel-per-day Dangote refinery is expected to be a game changer when fully operational by helping end Nigeria’s reliance on fuel imports.

It sits on 2,635 hectares (6,500 acres) of land at the Lekki Free Zone on the edge of Lagos and costs an estimated $19 billion.

Though one of Africa’s largest oil producers and the continent’s top economy, Nigeria relies almost totally on imported fuel and diesel because of a lack of refining capacity.

The refinery, first scheduled to open in 2021, was officially inaugurated by then-president Muhammadu Buhari last year.

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Economy

Fuel scarcity looms as Oil workers join NLC strike 

Funso Olojo 
There may be yet another disruption in the distribution of the Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) otherwise known as fuel, as the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers(NUPENG) has directed all its members in all the branches of the union nationwide to comply with the indefinite strike action called by the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC).
It would be recalled that NLC has called out its members and affiliates, including the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on indefinite strike action from today, June 3rd, 2024 over a disagreement on minimum wage with the Federal Government.
In what appears to be solidarity with the NLC, NUPENG has directed all its units nationwide to cease operations and comply with the strike starting from Monday, June 3rd, 2024.
In a circular dated June 1st, 2024, signed by  Comrade Afolabi Olawole, the Secretary General of the Union and addressed to all NUPENG branches and members, the Union instructed all members to immediately put all processes in place to comply with the directive.
”This is to notify all our members and branches in all oil and gas installations, operations and services, including distribution and marketing of petroleum products, that our great Union is fully committed to ensuring total compliance with the directive of Nigeria Labour Congress issued on Friday, 31st, May, 2024 for an indefinite nationwide strike commencing from Monday, 3rd, 2024.
”As a Union, we are deeply concerned and disturbed with the insensitive and irresponsive attitude of the Federal Government to the very critical issue of negotiating a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers in view of the various social-economic policies of this administration that have impoverished the working people of this country.
”Leaders of our great Union at all levels, from the Units, Zones and Branches, should immediately put all processes in place to ensure total compliance with the directive.
”Our solidarity remains constant for the Union makes us strong” the circular, with reference No HQ/Ops/063/2024, said.
Already, Electricity, Judiciary, Medical and Port workers have indicated their resolve to comply with the NLC directive of the strike action
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