The Organised Private Sector on Monday warned the government against fleecing the people and endangering productivity.
They spoke in response to the signing of the Finance Bill into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
The law heralds a new regime of Value Added Tax rate of 7.5 per cent, up from five per cent.
The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association warned the government against seeing the private sector as a cash cow in its drive to increase revenue.
On the other hand, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed worry over the increase in VAT; even it said that it was inappropriate to compel loss-making firms to pay tax, no matter how little.
The Director General, NECA, Dr Timothy Olawale, noted that overburdening the private sector with taxes would further impoverish the citizens Buhari promised to take out of poverty.
He said, “The government should not see the private sector as a ‘cash cow’ in its drive to raise revenue, as it will do more harm to the already burdened private sector and further impoverish citizens that the president promised to take out of poverty.
“The common man will definitely be at the receiving end of the increase in VAT. Even if businesses are taxed more through likely illegal levies and rates outside the provisions of the law, they will naturally pass the cost to the customers whose purchasing power is already at the lowest ebb.
“The government should put mechanisms in place to eliminate leakages as a large chunk of the Internally Generated Revenue realised does not find its way into government coffers.
“They should drastically cut the cost of governance. Several aides kept at prohibitive cost are needless.”
He acknowledged that the government had made provisions in the law that were meant to benefit the masses while reforming the local tax laws in line with global best practices.
The new law amended the Petroleum Profit Tax Act, Customs and Excise Tariff Act, Company Income Tax Act, Personal Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax, Stamp Duties Act and the Capital Gains Tax.
Olawale said, “Apart from the increase in VAT, some other changes would include a situation where Nigerians who want to open or maintain accounts with the deposit money banks will not have to provide their Tax Identification Number to do so, which is commendable.
“Again, the fact that the Federal Government has raised the threshold from which stamp duty will be charged for online transactions from the current N1, 000 to N10,000.”
He recommended aggressive taxpayer enlightenment and expansion of the tax net to capture more citizens as it had been reported that less than 40 per cent of Nigerians were tax compliant.
Director General of the LCCI, Dr Muda Yusuf, said, “The increase in VAT from five per cent to 7.5 per cent amounts to additional burden on investors.
“Already businesses have been grappling with multiple taxation, high import duty, high regulatory charges, exclusion from the official forex market and high energy cost.
“It is also disturbing that in Nigeria, VAT is not treated as consumption tax. Most often it is imposed on the entire value chain of production and investment. This is why investors will worry about the review.”
The LCCI boss urged the government to scale up its commitment to the creation an enabling environment for investment, adding “this should be from the perspective of policy, regulatory and macroeconomic environment.”
Buhari had announced the signing of the bill through his verified personal twitter handle, @MBuhari.
“I am pleased to announce that this morning, I signed into the law the Finance Bill, 2019,” he tweeted.
The finance bill provides several revenue windows for the Federal Government to source funds, especially for the immediate financing of the 2020 budget.
The country’s budget for the year is N10.59tn, with a huge deficit of over N2tn.
FirstBank Upgrades Mobile Banking Application, Puts Customers Ahead in Electronic Banking
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that its mobile banking application, FirstMobile has been upgraded with new and improved features to promote safe and convenient Mobile Banking experience for customers.
The Bank’s award-winning and dynamic mobile banking application has been redesigned with improved security and self-service features to ease the navigation capability and proficiency of customers. Its unique cool blue colour background gives it a more appealing interface for customers to enjoy a unified and streamlined banking experience whilst going about their day to day activities.
FirstMobile is now embedded with a card protection service for customers to enable and disable cards on channels, account switch off as well as second-factor authentication and device registration. With the upgraded FirstMobile, customers can remotely initiate the request for a new debit card as well as the replacement of a lost or damaged one, whilst managing activities on their card and account, thus balance enquiry and statement, amongst others.
The biometrics for transactions is another innovative security upgrade on the application to validate transactions. This feature includes fingerprint for transactions, allowing the customer to use his or her fingerprint to consummate all transactions.
Other added features include frequent transaction; dashboard flexibility and personalisation; smoother transaction experience and improved beneficiary management.
With the frequent transaction feature, the user is able to easily access his or her frequently completed transactions – airtime, transfers and bill payments – and reinitiate such with the clicks of a button. This is an additional menu which can easily be accessed from the dashboard. Airtime top-up and data purchase have also been improved, as customers are able to select phone numbers directly from their phone contacts.
The application has been upgraded with a smoother experience on funds transfer, bill payments and airtime transactions as customers can add and delete beneficiary without having to repeatedly enter the recipients’ details over and over again. Users can also take a photo or select from the Avatar (available icons) to personalize their dashboard and beneficiaries for Transfers, Bills Payment & Airtime Transactions by uploading a picture to associate with their beneficiary, especially the more frequent ones.
The dashboard has been designed to reflect the lifestyle and social pattern of the user as it can be customized by adding any profile picture of choice. The dashboard also enables users to monitor their spending patterns over a period. It shows the inflow and outflow of funds on their account.
In need of a loan to meet that pressing need, FirstMobile has you covered and puts you at an advantage with the FirstAdvance and Nano Loan features.
Keen on watching the next blockbuster in your favourite cinema, with FirstMobile, you can book for movie ticket(s) ahead of time, thereby averting the risk of being told the movie is sold-out upon getting to the movie theatre. You can also book for flights at your earliest convenience on FirstMobile.
“The upgraded FirstMobile is built to reflect FirstBank’s resolve at reinforcing the digitisation of our payment systems, whilst putting our customers at an edge to conveniently meet their everyday needs at any time, irrespective of where they are. Indeed, this upgrade makes the application new, as it is designed to suit the social pattern and lifestyle of our customers.” said Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products.
“With over 3.7million active users on FirstMobile across android and ios devices, we remain steadfast at regularly reinventing our services on the App with dynamic and innovative capabilities to resonate our focus to deliver state of the art digital solutions to all our customers at all times, irrespective of where they are” he concluded.
Only recently, FirstMobile was awarded the “Best Mobile Banking App” in the country at the Global Business Outlook Awards.
Inaugural Set of FirstBank Management Associates Programme Graduates
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, graduated 28 successful candidates in its inaugural FirstBank Management Associates Programme (FMAP). The virtual exercise was held via the Zoom video conferencing application. The programme which commenced in 2018 had a total of 48 candidates selected from thousands of entries and applications received nationwide.
FMAP is a 24-month fast-track comprehensive developmental programme targeted at young, dynamic, self-motivated and highly driven individuals that possess the right skill set and excellent leadership potential among Junior and entry-level cadre staff. Entries and applications for the programme enrolment was also extended to the public
Speaking about the programme, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said “It is an intensive skill development programme structured to enhance acute thinking, financial, methodical skills of staff. The bank would continue to reinvest in its human capital to create a kind of leadership needed for future growth and development
“This is part of the Bank’s strategic objectives of infusing and developing leadership at requisite levels across its staff hierarchy, aimed at building the next generation of leaders who will be groomed to drive the Bank’s vision of being Africa’s Bank of first choice”, he concluded.
At the end of the programme, successful candidates are moved to middle management, becoming Management Associates irrespective of their grades at the point of entry.
Cross country postings and secondment opportunities is also offered to such staff to provide them with global exposure and network.
FirstBank Empowers Women Through FirstGem Online Community
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that its all-female online community www.firstgem.com.ng, offers mentoring, support and capacity building opportunities for all to create a new generation of financially literate women.
With the aim to increase its engagement and reach a wider audience, an online repository for its FirstGem product was created and designed to provide a virtual online community where like-minded women irrespective of where they are in Nigeria and abroad, gather to connect, grow and share knowledge on everything about lifestyle, parenting, career development, entrepreneurship, health, work and family. Financial empowerment and wealth creation ideas are shared to encourage women to play their part in providing financial support for their families.
The portal provides varied contents ranging from Blog stories to Vlogs, Newsletters, Chat rooms which are built on 6 pillars – Health, Wealth and Finance, Food and Recipes, Events, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle and Beauty. The FirstGem online community presently has over 61,634 members drawn from all walks of life sharing ideas, insights and experiences.
According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “FirstGem is suited for the Nigerian woman, and we are using this online community as the ideal opportunity to position the Bank’s gender initiatives to meet the required needs on a wide range of issues affecting women from lifestyle, skills acquisition, finances, wealth acquisition and management, business support, etc.
We encourage all women to join the community by signing up via this link https://firstgem.com.ng/community to enjoy this experience.
FirstGem is a gender specific account designed to meet the needs of women, aged 18 years and above. It is targeted at a broad spectrum of women, working professionals, entrepreneurs and MSMEs with a view to promoting growth via an array of benefits, from free business advisory services, regular information or insights on business opportunities in various sectors and industries, as well as mouth-watering discounts at partnered stores and outlets.
FirstGem has successfully empowered women in states across the geo-political zones in Nigeria and the UK.