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VAT: More States Support Gov Wike, Begin Process

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Following the defeat of the Federal government’s agency, Federal Island Revenue Service (FIRS) at the court by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led Rivers State government over collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), other states are dusting their legislative and legal gowns to follow suit.

Consequently, the Akwa Ibom and Adamawa state governments on Tuesday aligned themselves with the move to stop the Federal Government from collecting Value Added Tax.

The Director-General, Media and Communications, Adamawa State Government, Solomon Kumangar, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Yola, the state capital, said that the collection of VAT by the states was the only way of reducing their dependence  on federal allocations.

The Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, on its part, said it would soon begin work on a bill that would enable the state to collect VAT.

Similarly, Lagos said it would go ahead with the VAT bill, which passed second reading in the state House of Assembly on Monday.

But the governments of Ekiti, Osun and Benue states said they were still studying the situation before making any move.

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt in its judgment last month in a suit marked FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 held that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service, on Monday, prayed the court to stay execution on the judgment.

But the presiding judge, Justice Stephem Pam, rejected the application, saying granting it would negate the principle of equity.

On Monday, the Lagos State Government toed the path of Rivers State as a bill to empower it to collect VAT scaled second reading in the state House of Assembly.

VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered. It is charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.

On Tuesday, the Adamawa State Government told The PUNCH that the judgment was of interest to it.

Kumangar said the state government might seek to be joined in the Rivers State versus the FIRS VAT suit as an interested party.

He said Adamawa State, which is heavily reliant on federal allocations and overstretched by the impact of COVID-19 and post-insurgency recovery demands of rebuilding, saw the development in Rivers State as one of particular interest to it.

Adamawa State, according to him, welcomes the court ruling as another avenue for states struggling with financial problems to utilise, extend and improve their internally generated revenues.

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Business

Fitch Upgrades Fidelity Bank’s Issuer Default Rating from ‘B-’ to ‘B’

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Fitch Ratings has upgraded Fidelity Bank Plc’s long-term issuer default rating (IDR) from ‘B-’ to ‘B’, reflecting the bank’s increased creditworthiness. The rating agency also upgraded Fidelity’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A(nga)’ from ‘BBB+(nga)’.

According to the global rating agency, the upgrade is a result of the Bank’s improving business profile and resilient financial metrics. The agency added that the improved rating reflected the bank’s increased creditworthiness relative to other issuers in Nigeria, emphasizing that, “Fidelity’s Long- and Short-Term IDRs are driven by its standalone creditworthiness, as expressed by its Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’ ’’.

The agency further stated that the VR reflects healthy asset quality, good business profile and reasonable capitalisation and liquidity. These are balanced against high sensitivity to Nigeria’s challenging operating environment as well as higher credit concentration as a percentage of equity and weaker profitability than larger domestic-rated peers.

Commenting on the upgraded rating, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, stated, “Receiving this upgrade at a time when the global economy is faced with a myriad of challenges, speaks to the strength of our business model, the efficacy of our risk management culture and the commitment of our staff towards creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.  As a bank, we will continue to execute our growth strategy in a prudent manner that allows us to take advantage of emerging opportunities in our various markets”.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge: Delta, Rivers Corps Members to Benefit from N10m Business Grant

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Unity Bank’s flagship Entrepreneurial Development Initiative, Corpreneurship Challenge, is set to return for the 8th edition across 10 locations in Nigeria, including a debut in Delta and Rivers States.  

The Retail lender kick-started the Corpreneurship Challenge scheme in 2019, with a launch in Lagos and in three other states, which included Edo, Ogun, and Abuja, but with the increasing traction of the initiative among corps entrepreneurs, the Bank has now expanded the programme to 10 states across the federation.

The first expanded edition covered Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Edo, Katsina, Enugu, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Kano and Kaduna. This edition will hold for the first time in Rivers and Delta as well as making a return to Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa and Enugu.

The Corpreneurship Challenge, which has earned the Bank a national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, has continued to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition.

In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500, 000 cash in the business grant.

Previous editions saw participants pitching business plans from several sectors including software solutions, fashion, fish production, poultry farming, bee farming, retail chains, and piggery to beverages which were assessed based on originality, marketability, and future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.

So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative which has now produced 58 winners since it was launched.

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IPMAN Warns Members Against Selling PMS Above N165/Litre

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The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria on Wednesday warned members of the association not to dispense Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, above the approved N165/litre pump price.

IPMAN in conjunction with the Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products gave the warning in Abuja following reports that many retail outlets had adjusted the price in their various pumps upwards above the government-regulated rate.

The factional National President, IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, admitted that members of the association had called for a hike in petrol price, but noted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had released enough petrol.

He said, “Our members in Lagos were getting the fuel at N170 – N173/litre, that’s why they wanted price increased. It is only the NNPC that is importing the product. The cost of doing business has changed, so it becomes difficult to sell at N165/litre.

“That is why we are thanking the NNPC for bringing the product to N143/litre. So, our members must sell the product at N165 which is the government-approved price.”

Okoronkwo further revealed that IPMAN and its partner had engaged the services of Benham Group to recover money owed them for the supply of petroleum products.

“Our business requires technology, that is why we brought a seasoned financial expert and we’ve been able to recover a lot of funds in other countries and Nigeria,” he said.

The IPMAN official added, “The incessant mishaps and destruction of trucks on the road, banditry and kidnapping is the reason we are bringing the insurance company to help us. Leaving the risk for the owner of the truck to bear will affect our businesses.”

On his part, the National President, Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products in Nigeria, Mohammed Danzaki, said the NNPC had done a lot to import the product, “but the main issue is the transportation.”

He added, “We have not been getting our payments. That is why we engaged a financial expert, Benham Group, to recoup our money for Nigerians to get regular supplies in the fuel stations.”

The Chairman, Benham Group, Maurice Ibe, said the collaboration was to ensure stabilisation of fuel supply at the filling stations.

The Punch

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