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FEC Approves Increase in VAT from 5% to 7.2%

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The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved an increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) payable in Nigeria.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, announced the approval while briefing journalists after the FEC meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mrs Ahmed said the VAT was increased from the current 5 per cent to 7.2 per cent.

“We also reported to council and council has agreed that we start the process towards the increase of the VAT rate.

“We are proposing and council has agreed to increase the VAT rate from 5 per cent to 7.2 per cent,” she said.

Mrs Ahmed gave an increase in revenue accruable to state governments as one of the reasons for the increase.

“This is important because the federal government only retains 15 per cent of the VAT, 85 per cent is actually for the states and local government and the states need additional revenue to be able to meet the obligations of the minimum wage.”

The minister, however, said the implementation will not be immediate as there was the need to amend the current law.

 

“This process involves extensive consultations that needs to be made across the country at various levels and also it will involve the review of the VAT Act.

“So, it is not going to be implemented immediately until the Act is reviewed,” she said.

She said the increase in the VAT was also included in the government’s revenue projection for 2020.

“Following these assumptions, the total revenue estimate in the sum of N7.5 trillion for the year 2020 and N2.09 trillion that will be accruing to the federation account and the VAT respectively.

“There will of course be the distribution to the three tiers of government based on the statutorily revenue sharing formula as defined in the constitution and to this effect, it means the federal government will be receiving proposed aggregate of N4.26 trillion from the federal account and the VAT pool, while the states and the local government are expected to receive N3.04 trillion and N2.27 trillion respectively,” she said.

Mrs Ahmed also spoke on the government’s planned expenditure for 2020. She said about N2.45 trillion has been proposed for debt servicing.

“The expenditure for the year 2020 is in the total sum of N10.07 trillion. This is three per cent less than the approved expenditure in the 2019 budget that has been passed into law. The total expenditure includes statutory transfers, non-debt recurrent expenditure such as salaries and pensions and also the Social Intervention Programme.

“The 2020 budget has a debt service estimated at N2.45 trillion and a sinking fund to retire maturing obligations issued to local contractors and other creditors in the sum of N296 billion. So there is a total sum of N3.43 trillion that is provided for personnel and pension cost inclusive of N218 billion for the top 19 government-owned enterprises in the country. This represents an increase of N453 billion over the 2019 approved budgetary expenditure. This also implies a 40 per cent of this recurrent expenditure to the projected revenue.

“The budget deficit is projected at N2.15 trillion in the year 2020 and this is lower than what was approved in the 2019 budget which was N2.47 trillion.

“Let me state that these projections include drawdowns on project tied loans and these represent 1.51 per cent of estimated gross domestic product (GDP). This is well below what is allowed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 which is still put at 3 per cent.

“I want to add that council approved our presentation and so the next phase for us is to consult with the National Assembly and then the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to the National Assembly for their own view and subsequent approval,” she said.

The 2020 budget proposal is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly when they reconvene from their recess later this month.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan has said the National Assembly would pass the budget before the end of the year if it receives it early from the Executive.

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FirstBank Hosts SME Clinic, Reiterates Commitment to Building Capacity of SMEs

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By Ugo Aliogo

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has reiterated its commitment to driving growth and building the capacity of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

Speaking at the FirstBank SMEConnect Business Clinic, held in Lagos on Thursday, the Group Head, Lagos Island 1, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Olufunke Smith, stated that the business clinic provides an opportunity for SMEs to understand how to develop their business plans, and run their business. It is one of the key initiatives that the bank has put in place to drive development of the SMEs. She further noted that the Bank’s SMEs proposition is based on seven pillars that would connect SMEs to- capacity building, market, infrastructure, talent for business development, policy and regulation, finance and resources.

According to her, “Building the capacities of SMEs is an ongoing process. SMEs are the engine of growth of any society. At FirstBank it is our responsibility to bring them on-board through support, knowledge sharing, and advisory in order for them to add value to the society. The SMEs attending the clinics today have gone through a selection process and it is the first of 2020, there will be more clinics to be held in the course of the year.

“SMEs are the bedrock of economic growth of any society. It is when you have functional SMEs that the country can grow. It is noteworthy to mention here that SMEs are great employers of labour. When you have viable SMEs they provide various services and innovations that traditional corporations may not provide. These strongly underscore our commitment – at FirstBank – to strengthening their impact on the economy.

“This clinic is part of giving back to the society, thereby ensuring we continue to develop SMEs. FirstBank has recognised that for it to serve SMEs adequately there is a need to offer more than traditional banking services. We know that connecting SMEs to the right information and business tools can save turnaround time, cost and give them a competitive edge in the sector that they operate. It is on this knowledge that we have created value propositions for SMEs that cover financial and non-financial services.”

We expose SMEs to the best deals and they have access to tools that position them at an advantage for growth.”

 

In his remarks, the Managing Partner, Traction, Dolapo Adejuyigbe, said “we have a coaching marketplace that SMEs can come on our platform and even firstbank platform to book vetted coaches that can provide advisory services to them either for one session or a number of sessions. We also consider re-emerging how our business clinics can work and how to bring insights and make it practical. The FirstBank business diagnostic tool enables SMEs identify the needs, especially operational, of their business and the business clinic is designed in such a way we can follow up on the impacts and also track the business after three to six months. The focus of this business clinic is to help them design the strategy for 2020. A core part of that is for them to understand the economic trends, and we have catered for different kinds of businesses and how the economy is going to impact them.”

In his remarks, one of the speakers at the event, Gospel Obele, said the clinic provided an opportunity to develop a business and market outlook for SMEs, stating that the goal was to scale economic knowledge into useable insights for SMEs.

 

Commending FirstBank on the SME Clinic, Obele noted that the event exposed SMEs to lots of opportunities for their business growth like how the Nigerian business environment is going to look like through the year as well as the transition dynamics of the consumer.”

 

He said: “Examining strategy from the outlook that was presented today, it is more of how SMEs rework their internal systems to respond to the changing environment that we have. Nigeria is a high fluid and dynamic economy which means that our own business environment is changing faster than advanced economies”

 

One of the participants at the clinic, Tayo Oginni, President/CEO, International Energy Market Place Ltd., said attending the seminar provided background knowledge on how to develop a road map for setting up a business in a structured manner.

 

He asserted that the business clinic taught SMEs the things to be aware of when starting a business, “the facilitator created an atmosphere of things that need to be done. I will strongly recommend that SMEs need this kind of intervention.”

Ogini also lauded FirstBank and Traction for organising the clinic, noting that one of the key areas discussed at the clinic was financing where SMEs were taught that cash flow is key in business, therefore they have to watch their cash flow.

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NCAC, Belgium Plan Cultural Exchange Programme For 2020

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One of the cultural programmes Nigerians can expect this year is a major exchange between the National Council for Arts and Culture and the Kingdom of Belgium.

The Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr. Daniel Dorgent, stated the need to come together and work on projects which will be of mutual benefit to both nations via fashion exhibitions, music and dance, art and crafts, cultural festivals amongst other noble initiatives.

The Envoy revealed this while on a visit to the NCAC to solicit collaboration from Otunba Segun Runsewe (Director-General) in this regard.

Dorgent said Nigeria was a country with great potentials adding, “we stand to benefit from some of these interesting potentials.”

He was also quick to add that the project could involve Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora.

On his part, Otunba Segun Runsewe promised to provide the necessary logistics like venue, publicity and security to ensure a successful outing.

Runsewe observed that Nigeria and Belgium have a long relationship in sports while sharing mutually beneficial economic ties with no less than 40 Belgium companies doing extremely well in Nigeria.

According to the NCAC chief, “As far back as 1984, over eleven Nigerian professional footballers plied their trade in the Belgian league. You will recall also that in the last Olympic, Nigeria and Belgium played the volleyball final.”

Speaking further, Runsewe added that, “as a body we have collaborated with Iran, Bangladesh and China. So for your exhibition, we will put in our best to ensure the programme meets international standards.”

The meeting ended with the exchange of promotional materials on behalf of the two nations.

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…And the Winner of Best Mobile Banking App Award is FirstBank

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has been named 2019 “Best Mobile Banking App” and “Fastest Growing Retail Bank”  by Global Business Outlook.

The Global Business Outlook Award recognises and rewards excellence in business in companies across the world, both in the public and private sectors. The award rewards innovation, creativity and the drive to create value.

FirstBank earned the Fastest Growing Retail Bank recognition because of its leading role in promoting financial inclusion in the country, a drive which has resulted in its 44,000 Agent Banking network designed to complement the provision of bespoke financial services at its over 750 branches nationwide.

Speaking on the awards, Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications said, “We appreciate the recognition of these awards by the respective awarding bodies. The awards are dedicated to all our customers across the globe as their continued patronage of our services is appreciated.

We remain steadfast and would not rest on our laurels at rendering bespoke financial services tailored to meet the financial needs of our valued customers, irrespective of where they may be.”

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