The House of Representatives has resolved to probe an alleged non-remittance of stamp duty revenue by deposit banks in the country.
The lawmakers paased the resolution after adopting a motion of urgent national importance brought before it by Goni Lawal (APC, Yobe).
The stamp duty is the tax placed on legal documents, usually in the transfer of assets or property.
The house resolution is coming months after an FOI request was sent in July on behalf of LeaksNG to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) PLC.
The information requested were a report of stamp duty remittances by Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions, the current status of the stamp duty central account domiciled in the CBN, stamp duty revenue remitted to the CBN by NIBSS between 2016 and 2017 and amount of revenue collected by NIPOST between 2010 and 2016.
The lawmakers accused banks and other federal agencies involved in the collection of the fund of “shortchanging the nation”.
Moving the motion, Mr Lawan urged his colleagues to investigate the matter after “efforts by both local and international civil society organizations to get details of the collections have failed.”
He said the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) had in 2014 initiated the stamp duty collection scheme, after which the School Banking Honours (SBH) obtained authorisation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to engage the banks and other collection agents.
“But public institutions, including the CBN, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), NIPOST, among others, have over time failed to remit stamp duty taxes into the federation account running into trillions,” he said.
“While the deductible amount per bank account may seem small, it cumulatively adds up to money in trillions of naira, and must be subjected to the full condition of disclosure and transparency.”
The lawmaker added that such funds, if made available, could have been used for infrastructural development “or at least should have generated some interests in the private accounts where the fund is domiciled.”
Some lawmakers also raised concern over the issue which they said “is in disobedience to the treasury single account (TSA) policy”.
The Speaker Yakubu Dogara, while commenting on the issue said it is unacceptable for the banks to fail to remit the stamp duties to the CBN.
The speaker set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the whereabouts of the fund and report back in four weeks.
Guinean Military Junta Dissolves Government, Seals Country’s Borders
Guinea’s military junta, which took power through a coup in September 2021, has officially dissolved the government, as announced via a presidential decree read on state TV by the presidency’s Secretary General, Brig Gen Amara Camara.
The announcement was not followed by details regarding the rationale of this dissolution, or the timeline for establishing a new government.
As part of the dissolution, ministers in the now-dissolved government have been instructed to surrender their passports and official vehicles, and also given directives for their bank accounts to be frozen.
The junta has also directed security agencies to “seal” all of Guinea’s borders until the complete handover of government ministries to the junta.
According to Camara, during the interim period until a new government is appointed, lower-level officials will manage state ministries.
The dissolved government, led by Prime Minister Bernard Goumou, was appointed by coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, who led Guinea’s armed forces in overthrowing elected President Alpha Condé in September 2021. The coup came after a series of protests against Condé’s controversial bid for a third term.
Guinea, as well as several other countries in West and central Africa, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Gabon, have experienced coups in recent years. These coups have faced strong condemnation from West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union, and the UN.
The junta and ECOWAS had earlier set a 24-month transition period, and Guinea is expected to hold elections to restore democratic rule within 10 months, as the transition period comes to an end.
Atiku’s Aide Accuses Tinubu’s Govt of Diverting Funds Through Fake Petrol Subsidy
Phrank Shaibu, a Special Assistant on Public Communication to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has alleged that the refusal of the Federal government to react to recent reports on the return of petrol subsidy shows that public funds have started going into private pockets.
Shaibu made the allegation through a statement while reacting to reports by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Nigerian government has begun paying petrol subsidy again.
According to media reports, monthly subsidy payment is nearly N1 trillion, far in excess of exceeds the amount paid monthly by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Reacting to the allegation, Shaibu said it has become clear that one of the reasons the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has not been paying the required amount of money into the government’s account is because monies are being diverted under an opaque and secret subsidy regime.
He alleged: “Tinubu has been boasting at every economic forum that he deserves to be in the Guinness Book of records for removing petrol subsidy.
“He even said before ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ in New York last September that the ‘corrupt subsidy’ regime and FX issues had been resolved.
“But as every other thing relating to Tinubu, this has turned out to be another lie from the pit of hell. Currently, the exchange rate based on what the Central Bank of Nigeria recommended to the Nigeria Customs Service is N1515/$1.
“Hence diesel price is now over N1,200 but petrol is still selling for between N600 and N700.
“Nigeria is the only country in the world where such disparity between diesel and petrol exists. It has become obvious that petrol subsidy has returned through the backdoor.
“With the return of petrol subsidy, oil marketers have opted out and that is why the NNPC has returned to being the sole importer of petrol once more and has the temerity to be announcing that it will not increase petrol cost regardless of the international price of crude oil and the exchange rate.
“To be clear, petrol subsidy in itself is not a bad thing when it is done transparently.”
Shaibu added: “Former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, expressed shock last month that NNPC was still not remitting FX into government’s accounts.
“It is now obvious why this has been happening. Subsidy has returned but it is now being done in a corrupt and secret manner as funds are now being diverted into private pockets even worse than under Buhari. This is the Tinubu Lagos legacy from Lagos State.”
Shaibu said it was disappointing that the Finance Minister, Wale Edun; and CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, who both claimed to have gotten their appointments based on their expertise had failed to speak up but had continued to cover up the petrol subsidy.
He also alleged that the Tinubu government had continued to frustrate the takeoff of the Dangote refinery which would have at least reduced Nigeria’s FX demands.
“The media reported last week that lingering regulatory approvals have stalled Dangote Petrochemical Refinery’s plan to release aviation fuel (Jet A1) and diesel for sale in the Nigerian market.
“At the same time, Dangote refinery has been struggling to get the needed crude oil and has decided to import from the United States while the NNPC which has no business with monetary policy, committed Nigeria’s crude oil for a $3.3 billion Afreximbank loan ostensibly to stabilise the naira.
“It is obvious that Tinubu and his so-called economic team are quacks, charlatans who put their personal interest ahead of that of the country. With such Lilliputians at the helm of affairs, Nigeria’s economic woes are about to go from bad to worse,” Shaibu added.
UK Economy Slips into ‘Technical’ Recession
The United Kingdom slipped into a technical recession in the second half of last year after its economy registered two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, official figures have shown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced through a statement on Thursday that Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.3 percent in the last three months of 2023, after contracting 0.1 percent in the third quarter.
It meant that the economy entered a technical recession, as defined by two or more quarters in a row of falling GDP.
It marked the first time the UK had entered recession since the first half of 2020 when the initial COVID-19 lockdown sent the country’s economy plunging into reverse.
The figures dealt a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who had promised to grow the economy as one of his five priorities.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said inflation and high-interest rates were behind the output fall but insisted the economy was turning a corner.
He said: “While interest rates are high so the Bank of England can bring inflation down low growth is not a surprise.
“But there are signs the British economy is turning a corner; forecasters agree that growth will strengthen over the next few years.
“Wages are rising faster than prices; mortgage rates are down and unemployment remains low.
“Although times are still tough for many families, we must stick to the plan of cutting taxes on work and business to build a stronger economy.”
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the Prime Minister’s promise to grow the economy was in tatters.
“The Prime Minister can no longer claim credibly that his plan is working or that he has turned the corner on more than 14 years of economic decline under the Conservatives that has left Britain worse off.
“This is Rishi Sunak’s recession and the news will be deeply worrying for families and businesses across Britain,’’ he said.