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FIRS to impose VAT on online transactions, says Fowler

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it will soon begin collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on online transactions.

The Chairman of the agency, Mr Babatunde Fowler, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Saturday.

Fowler said: “soon, we will ask banks to impose VAT on online transactions for purchases of goods and services.

“Not that it is something new; it actually should be in existence.

“We will certainly follow up to make sure that every VAT that is due to be collected is collected.”

He explained that the move was part of measures by FIRS to meet its N8 trillion revenue target for 2019.

Fowler said the agency had started taking action against companies and businesses that refused to embrace the Federal Government’s tax amnesty programme.

According to him, FIRS hopes to generate between N750 billion and N1 trillion from the clampdown, which includes closure of defaulters’ bank accounts.

“We are going after everybody. I am sure you have heard that we have placed lien on some accounts of defaulters that have a billion naira turnover annually.

“So certainly, we are not leaving anyone out of the tax net,” he said.

Officially known as the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme, the tax amnesty programme was launched in 2017.

It gave tax defaulters a one-year period of grace to declare and settle their unpaid taxes.

There have been complaints by some taxpayers of being wrongly targeted by FIRS in the clampdown.

Asked to comment on that, Fowler admitted, blaming it on “administrative error,” arising from the huge number of accounts involved.

“Well, there is certainly one or two instances where we made administrative error, but when you are looking at over 50,000 accounts, there is a tendency that sometimes an error might be made.

“For those that we made errors on, I wrote them personally apologising and of course we lifted the lien on their accounts.”

On plans by the Joint Tax Board to raise the country’s tax population to 45 million, Fowler said the agency was relying on multiple information sources.

These, according to him, include the country’s Bank Verification Number database and sister agencies with relevant information.

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BUSINESS

‘No plans to relocate NGC headquarters from Niger Delta’

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The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured stakeholders that it has no plans to relocate headquarters of its subsidiary, Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) from Delta State.

A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, described as unfortunate, statement credited to Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, where he reportedly condemned alleged moves by the corporation to relocate the NGC headquarters from the Niger Delta.

Ughamadu called on the NGC host communities and other stakeholders to disregard the relocation tale, which he described as “totally false”. He maintained that Omo-Agege may have been misinformed or was quoted out of context as the subject of relocation of NGC was never on the table for deliberation.

NNPC promised to ensure harmonious relationship with stakeholders and host communities to entrench a win-win scenario for all.

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Buhari signs AfCFTA agreement at AU Summit

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President Muhammadu Buhari in Niamey, Niger Republic, signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, making Nigeria the 53rd state on the continent to append its signature to the document.

Reports reaching Area News, indicated that the president signed the agreement at exactly 10.47 am local time

Buhari had delayed in signing the agreement, which entered into force May 30, 2019.

The delay was to give room for extensive consultations with stakeholders, culminating in the submission of the report by the Presidential Committee to Assess Impact and Readiness of Nigeria to join the free trade area.

The committee had recommended that Nigeria should sign the agreement which aims to boost intra-African trade.

In accepting the report as submitted, the President made it clear that Nigerian government would be seeking to include terms that engender the development of policies that promote African production, among other benefits.

President Buhari said: “Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy but also a continental manufacturing agenda.

“Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of `made in Africa goods’. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.

“If we allow unbridled imports to continue, it will dominate our trade. The implication of this is that coastal importing nations will prosper while landlocked nations will continue to suffer and depend on aid.’’

The AfCFTA is expected to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization, with a potential market of 1.2 billion people.

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CIFI N20bn loans: Access Bank begins disbursement to creative sector

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Access Bank has commenced disbursement of loans to beneficiaries in the entertainment industry, under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The bank disclosed this during a forum with some stakeholders in the entertainment industry in Lagos on Tuesday.

It said the first tranche of the CIFI loans worth N20bn, would be made easily accessible to the borrowers in the sector.

Bidemi Adeboye of Access Bank said stakeholders in the creative industries such as fashion, Information Technology, movie production, movie distribution, music and software engineering student  could access the loans.

When all documentations were completed and the loans approved, the bank would ensure the beneficiaries got the funds within two weeks, he said.

He added, “The CBN wants to create jobs, develop local capacity, preserve foreign exchange and ensure empowerment in the entertainment industry.

“It is more interested in providing infrastructure funding such as film house, equipment, studio, auditorium, which will make it easier for the entertainers to operate at lower cost and be able to make profit.”

He explained that the loan had maximum interest rate of nine per cent per annum and a repayment period of up to 10 years.

According to him, those who would access the loans should come up with business plan or statement; they must be registered and should be doing what had economic benefits.

Chizoma Okoli of Access Bank said that the CIFI loan was introduced by the CBN to support the creative sector.

She said the bank decided to organise the forum with the stakeholders in the entertainment industry, to get more ideas from them on how best they could disburse the funds to them, and the documents they would need.

Music star, Oladapo Oyebanjo, popular known as D’banj, urged the bank to make the loans easily accessible as promised.

He said, “Most times when we apply for loans, it usually takes up to six months for us to get such. This will be a good development if we can access the loans within two weeks.”

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