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FirstBank awards scholarship to 18 customers

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has splashed scholarships worth N2.7 million on 18 customers under its XploreFirst promo initiative to boost savings culture and promote financial inclusion among students.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the winners were drawn from the six geopolitical zones and Lagos at the final/ grand raffle of XploreFirst promo on Friday in Lagos.

The winners emerged through an electronic draw handled by Tequila on behalf of the bank and supervised by KPMG, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Lagos State Lottery Board and Consumer Protection Commission (CPC).

At the event, Mr Chuma Ezirim, FirstBank Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, said: “XploreFirst is a FirstBank savings account variant designed specifically for students between the age range of 18 to 29.’’

Ezirim said that a minimum amount of N1, 000 was required to open the account and account holders are to maintain a minimum balance of N200 to run the account.

He said that the XploreFirst promo was one of the special benefits of the account.

According to him, the 18 winners that emerged at the final draw will be offered yearly scholarships of N150,000 each.

Ezirim said that the initiative was targeted at youths, especially those in tertiary institutions and informal sector, to enhance savings culture and drive financial inclusion across the country.

“Customers are offered yearly scholarships of N150,000 as incentives to maintain a certain amount of deposit, in this case, N10,000 in their account over a 30-day period to qualify for the monthly draws and giveaways.

“Customers who  successfully maintain the set balance over the six months period are eligible to win the jackpot of N150,000, the grand finale prize,’’ he said.

Ezirim noted that the initiative would be sustained by the bank  in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) financial inclusion mandate.

Also speaking, Mr Olufemi Odumuboni, the bank’s Head, Youth/Women Banking, said  the promo dynamics was centered at making people to engage in financial discipline.

Odumuboni said that winners were selected based on certain principles that made them eligible to qualify for the draw.

He explained that apart from the N2.7 million set aside for the yearly scholarships, the bank had splashed about N900, 000 to customers who emerged winners at the various monthly draws for data purchase for their mobile phones.

“Winners from the monthly draw selected from the bank’s six geopolitical zones are entitled to N5, 000 each which they are encouraged to use for data purchase for their mobile phones,” Odumuboni stated.

Ms Susie Onwuka of CPC, commended the bank for ensuring transparency throughout the promotion process.

Onwuka said the bank had deployed modern technology in the promo process to eliminate bias, noting that, the agency was happy with the process and the bank.

“Promotions should be registered to show transparency and ensure fairness to the consumers,” she said.

Onwuka said the regulatory body would follow up with the winners to ensure they were rewarded accordingly.

NAN reports that some of the scholarship winners included Mr Offiong Micheal, Mr Ezugba Chukwuebuka, Mr Olorunfemi Oluwatunmise, Mr Adekale Adenike and Ms Agbakwuru Dorcas. 

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BUSINESS

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

How Nigeria came out of recession, by Emefiele

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele on Friday disclosed that after five consecutive quarters of negative growth beginning in the first quarter of 2016, a coordinated approach by the fiscal and monetary authorities supported a rebound in the nation’s economy during the second quarter of 2017.

He disclosed this while delivering a special convocation lecture of the University of Nigeria (UNN) at the Princess Alexendra Hall, Nsukka.

The CBN governor, who was also conferred with honorary doctorate degree of the institution, said the recovery has been driven largely by improved non- oil activities especially the agriculture sector, which he said expanded consistently by about 3.5 -4.3 percent reflecting government’s efforts at diversifying the economy.

“After 5 consecutive quarters of negative growth beginning in the 1st quarter of 2016, a coordinated approach by the fiscal and monetary authorities supported a rebound in the nation’s economy during the second quarter of 2017.

“This was nonetheless, reinforced by the pickup in the oil sector as oil prices rallied in 2017. The gradual reorientation of the economic structure towards the agriculture sector reflects the diversification drive of the government which was supported by the development finance initiatives of the CBN.

“The recovery has been sustained for seven consecutive quarters. The pace of quarterly GDP growth has improved from .5 percent in the second quarter of 2017 to 2.38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018,” he stressed.

Emefiele however noted that challenges still remain such as ensuring that the pace of GDP growth remains well ahead of annual population growth at 3 percent.

He said that this can only be achieved if Nigerians continue to support efforts aimed at improving domestic production of goods in Nigeria.

He added proactive fiscal actions, especially, infrastructure investment were required to enhance economic growth.

The CBN governor further stated that universities have a considerable role to play in working with the private and public sector in supporting research and development of solutions that can be applied to enhance the growth of the economy.

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BUSINESS

MTN Lists Shares On Nigerian Stock Exchange

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Telecommunications giant MTN Nigeria has listed 20 billion ordinary shares at N90 per unit on the Premium Board of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The official listing of the Johannesburg-based company took place on Thursday at the Stock Exchange House in Lagos.

Chairman of MTN Nigeria, Dr Paschal Dozie, led the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Ferdi Moolman, and other top members of staff of the company to the event.

The price values the telecoms company at N1.84 trillion.

MTN Nigeria decided to list its local company in the country on the NSE in 2016 after agreeing to pay a $1.7 billion fine to settle a sim card dispute with the Federal Government.

Nigeria accounts for a third of MTN’s annual core profit while indigenous investors own 19.4 per cent of the company.

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