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Import Waivers: FG Loses N4.6tr in Two Years

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About N4.6 trillion was lost by the Federal Government to the waivers that were granted to importers in 2017 and 2018, it was learnt.

The loss was incurred  through the Finance Ministry due to non-implementation of the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) project.

To stop the trend, the ministry approached the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for assistance.

The ICRC yesterday issued the Full Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) waiver to check further revenue loss.

In a statement by her Special Adviser on Media & Communications, Paul Ella Abechi, Finance Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, commended the ICRC Director-General for expediting action on the project.

She urged officials of her ministry staff to “take full advantage of the IDEC portal and put it into full use to enable the Federal Government get full value for its revenues.”

The Full Business Case Compliance Certificate is for the Development, Deployment and Management of Automated Customs Gateway Portal for IDEC under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with Forecore Technology Solution Limited, as the preferred partner to Develop, Deploy, Manage and Transfer for a 10-year concession period.

Mrs. Ahmed lamented that government has “been experiencing significant drain in revenues due to the inability to adequately control the IDEC processes. It is really a good time for me that this project that I was really particular about since I came is coming to operation.”

Calling for the full implementation of the project, she noted: “the Ministry of Finance will have to get the approval of the Federal Executive Council before the Public Private Partnership (PPP) of the project will take full course.

“The portal will help us control, track and monitor the IDEC that we issue, but also to monitor the performance of the companies that we give this IDEC to and we will also be able to interface the IDEC system with the Nigeria Customs Service.”

The ICRC Director-General, Chidi Izuwah, described the IDEC as a laudable project that could be of great and urgent importance to enable the country cut the huge revenue loses to the tune of over N2 trillion due to manual processes.

Izuwah said: “The statement in the minister’s 12th June, 2018 letter that the non-implementation of this project caused a revenue loss of N2.5 trillion in 2017 and N2.1 trillion in 2018, we considered this a national revenue emergency and we gave it the needed attention and turned it around very quickly.”

Izuwah further noted that the ministry of Finance under Section 12 of the ICRC Act, is required to diligently supervise this project and ensue that government realises full value, the interest of government protected and it reap the full benefits of the project.

He added that on the other hand, the ICRC, under Section 10 of its Act, has a mandate to collaborate with the ministry and regularly inspect the project and ensure compliance by the public and the private institutions.

He also appealed to the minister to help the Commission and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) to finalise on its discussion concerning the Special Concession Account, which according to him, would be a huge opportunity to increase the revenue that is available to the government and block leakages.

The minister in her response, promised to meet with the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties and the Accountant-General of the Federation “to make sure that the account is not only put in place but put to full use.”

The Nation

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Ecobank Partners Vanguard Economic Forum Series, Convenes MSME Finance Summit

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Ecobank Nigeria and Vanguard Economic Forum Series have announced that they are convening an MSME virtual summit to promote and encourage lending support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the face of changing operating environment in the country.

The virtual summit with the theme: Unlocking Credit Growth in a Changing MSME Lending Landscape, will be broadcast and streamed live via zoom platform scheduled for May 21st by 11am.

The conference in strategic partnership with Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) will convene keynote speakers and panelist from regulatory agencies of government, policy decision makers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business and industry thought leaders. The speakers and panelists carefully drawn from the banking, trade associations and other key sectors of the economy are subject matter experts in MSMEs and lending.

Confirmed speakers include Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Bank of Industry (BoI); Dr. Dikko Rada, Director General, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN); Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director, Fate Foundation; Eke Ubiji, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) and a representative of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), amongst others. The Guest Of Honour will be the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Jumoke Oduwole, while Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria will be the Chief Host.

Announcing the conference in Lagos, Emeka Agada, Country Head, SME Ecobank Nigeria Limited said the Summit as a thought leadership content platform would deeply dialogue on the critical role of MSMEs as the economic engine room of any prosperous nation and the need to support the sub sector with capital, including examination of key issues and ways of achieving the objective through digital financial inclusion for the MSMEs. He disclosed that there will be audience engagement of members of various trade groups such as NASME (Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises) and SMEDAN (Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency ) with a view to detailing various lending options. He further reiterated that the ‘Ecobank Digital Series’ is in line with the Bank’s vision to consolidate a modern pan-African market, contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.

Also speaking, Jude Ndu, Director, Vanguard Conferences and The Economic Forum Series says: “As a follow up to the hugely successful Ecobank Digital Financial Inclusion virtual summit, we are indeed pleased and delighted with the ongoing high-level strategic partnership with Ecobank Nigeria in the area of concept development, synthesis, design and execution of high profile thematic bespoke events. The upcoming conference speaks to the strong sense of confidence the bank has in us to help curate thought leadership content and context for the brand in line with its marketing objectives.

He noted that the MSME conference would help Ecobank communicate and connect with Nigeria’s largely MSMEs on its lending options and support, adding that the bank will also showcase its strength in the digital banking space such as its innovative digital payment channels like the OmniPlus, Omnilite and digital sales collections channels like Ecobankpay NQR amongst other financial service offerings to close the large financial Inclusion gap and a direct response to mitigating the economic challenge post-COVID-19.

The Ecobank Digital Series is a virtual programme organised by Ecobank to educate and enlighten the public on crucial issues of public interest, especially as it relates to their financial empowerment.

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Listing on LCFE: Heritage Bank-Dukia Gold Set to Unlock N344trn Market Worth of Gold

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Heritage Bank for being part of valuable private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Limited is set to unlock the over N344 trillion market worth of gold investible instruments in the solid minerals sector with the concluded plans of being listed on the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE).

This move that will entrench expand revenue in the non-oil sector through diversification, by stimulating growth in solid minerals in line with the objectives of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) will also put Nigeria on the global map with regards to standardized gold tracing, sourcing procurement and trading it.

In summary, this was disclosed at the LCFE-Dukia Gold media parley held yesterday at the LCFE Trading Floor in Lagos.

Speaking at the parley, the Chairman of Dukia Gold, Tunde Fagbemi who commended Heritage Bank as the project financier and for its other pertinent supports, said Heritage had so far been the banker’s bank for playing key role in backing to promote the first solid mineral listing on Exchange in West Africa.

Specifically, he explained that the instruments which would be in the form of Exchange Traded Notes (ETN), Commercial Papers (CP), and other gold-backed securities would enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria. He added that it would increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the government to diversify external reserves and create massive employment across the metal production value chain.

“We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.

“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds.

“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. “Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located. “There must be constant power supply, good road network and other social amenities, apart from employment opportunities for the rural dwellers,” Fagbemi explained.

He also noted that with its current 25 production capacity pound and further room for expansion, Dukia Gold has the ability to meet both local and international demand through its gold refinery services to smelt melts.

Commenting on the collaboration, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo said that the partnership was one of the many initiatives of the bank’s foundational objectives of wealth creation, preservation and transfer across generations.

He further disclosed that the bank offer the gold commodity market three focal contact point in partnership, knowledge and perspective sharing, which ensure that every transaction was auditable to protect investors.

Sekibo who was represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, of the Bank, Olusegun Akanji, said the bank had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.

Speaking, the MD, LCFE, Akin Akeredolu-Ale, who also commended Heritage Bank for its critical role in aiding the fundraising and the financier institution for the Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments, affirmed that this would enhance the company credibility rating and put Nigeria on the global map.

He noted that the LCFE was ready to support all the stakeholders in the gold sector in the areas of market creation, price discovery, and dissemination of market information, among others.

Gbenga Awe, Divisional Head, Agribusiness, Natural Resources & Project Devt., of Heritage Bank noted that one of the benefits of this initiative was that the local miners could now trade their gold at the bank’s designated experience centers, as solid foundation had been created for market, price and asset discovery.

Akintola noted that the firm had the capability, technicalities and the necessary accreditation to operate in the gold value chain.

He stated that the listing on the Lagos Commodities would raise awareness of performance of Dukia Gold to the investing world and position it as foremost number one Precious Metals Refining Company in Nigeria.

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Financial Literacy: Unity Bank Begins One Minute Genius 2.0

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In its drive to boost financial literacy among students in primary and secondary schools across the nation, Nigerian lender, Unity Bank Plc has flagged off Season 2 of its pioneer educational gameplay, the One Minute Genius, OMG.

The OMG 2.0 game play, which kicked off in May 3, 2021, on the Unity Bank’s Website (www.omg.unitybankng.com) is an expanded version of the maiden edition to be played virtually.

Over 200 winners will emerge at the end of the 25-day contest. To win prizes in any of categories, participating students can play the virtual game from Monday to Friday between 8 AM – 6 PM.

The One Minute Genius (OMG) is an initiative that underscores Unity Bank’s commitment to the development of the next generation, as it seeks to connect with their aspirations and reinforce the importance of education as a vehicle to empower the Nigerian child. Children and students between the ages of 6 –17 years can participate in the game.

According to the Divisional Head, Retail/SME & E-business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade, the idea is to enable the participants improve their intelligence quotient and unleash the genius in them.

Mr Olufunwa further explained that the game will be played as a blend of quizzes containing spelling Bee and Arithmetic questions. “The children that answer the questions correctly within the one-minute stipulated timeframe will be rewarded with cash prizes”, he quips.

Throwing more light on the initiative, Mr. Olufunwa said, “the Bank has decided to continue investing in the game play because it is pleased with the impact which the previous editions of the contest had created being a vehicle for reinvigorating the values of education through gamification and fun”.

Still speaking, Mr, Olufunwa stated: “Unity Bank remains committed to playing a critical role in advancing learning for a better society by developing the minds of our children. And this virtual, participatory learning and reward contest has proved quite effective in achieving the goals of motivating the students towards subject mastery using a branch of reinforcement model”

He added: “On the heels of COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted negatively on the education sector in Nigeria by disrupted learning, an activity such as the OMG provides a veritable opportunity to boost learning, even as all stakeholders continue to make deliberate efforts to cater to the needs of our future generation.

“We hope that parents and guardians will encourage their wards with every support needed to enable the students explore the opportunity that this provides.”

Recall that the 2o20 edition of the OMG attracted massive interests from across Nigeria, producing no fewer than 120 winners who coasted home with millions of naira in cash rewards.

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