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ECONOMY

Nigeria probes over 200 whistleblowing tips on tax officials, taxpayers

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The Federal Government has begun investigation into over 200 whistleblowing tips on tax officials and taxpayers which involves under declaration of taxes as well as demand by taxpayers and receipt of gratifications by tax officials.

The government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, has also commenced the process of sanitising the tax administration and revenue collection system of dishonest operatives.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this on Sunday in Abuja while presiding over the meeting of the Whistleblower Unit in the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA).

Mrs Adeosun said the sanitization of the tax administration and revenue collection system was part of government’s efforts at enhancing the willingness of citizens to pay taxes.

She confirmed that the Federal Ministry of Finance had requested and secured the suspension of two senior Tax Officials in Delta and Benue States based on verified tips from Whistleblowers.

The Minister said, “The Ministry is currently analysing over 200 additional whistleblowing tips including recordings between tax officials and potential taxpayers in which various practices, designed to reduce tax payable, were detailed.

“These practices include demands for personal gratification by tax officers, promises to procure backdated tax clearance certificates, and offers to conspire to reduce taxes payable.”

In order to deal with the influx of the whistleblowing tips, the minister directed the reorganization of the Whistleblower Unit to fast track reports relating to those in the revenue generating agencies.

“Encouraging our citizens to pay taxes is a matter of law but it is also a matter of trust. Those who work in our tax offices must therefore demonstrate the highest level of integrity,” the minister said.

“The Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari understands that to reduce our reliance on oil means every citizen must pay their taxes as and when due.

“However, people will not be encouraged to pay if they believe that those involved in the assessment are not transparent or are dishonest. We will continue to sanitise the system and also improve our controls.”

She assured that the ministry would continue to root out fraudsters from compromising the integrity of the tax administration and revenue collection system.

She lauded members of the public for volunteering valuable information including voice recordings and other evidence to the Whistleblower Unit in the Ministry.

The Minister further enjoined members of the public to desist from the procurement of tax certificates that were not consistent with their true income.

She warned against relying on such documents and therefore advised those who might have procured such tax certificates in the past to take advantage of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularise their tax profile.

She added, “We have cases of procurement of tax clearance certificates with no corresponding records or assessments in the tax offices. In such cases, although payments have been made but there are no underlying assessment. So automatically, we will flag such companies for investigation.

“The data analysis being undertaken within the Federal Ministry of Finance is readily exposing those who have obtained tax clearance certificates that are either forged or are not consistent with their true income levels.”

Signed:
Oluyinka Akintunde
Special Adviser, Media & Communications to the Honourable Minister of Finance
Federal Ministry of Finance
January 28, 2018

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ECONOMY

China blasts US for warning Nigeria, others over its loans

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Mr Zhao Linxiang, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, on Friday in Abuja said the US position on Chinese loans to Nigeria and African countries “is ridiculous”.

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had said on Thursday that African countries should be careful not to forfeit their sovereignty when they accept loans from China.

Tillerson, who is on his first diplomatic trip to the continent, also said Chinese investments “do not bring significant job creation locally”.

He further criticised how Beijing structured loans to African governments.

Reacting, Zhao, at a news briefing in Abuja, said the Chinese loans to Africa were aimed at implementing major China-Africa cooperation projects and promoting sustainable development in the continent.

He explained that African countries had begun accessing the loans and implementing planned projects.

“African people should know the role the Chinese loans play in your economy. That is the most important thing.

“Except the Chinese Government, which other government provides loans to African countries without critical conditions? No Western country does that.

“How can they say they suspect Chinese loans. It is ridiculous. Without funds, how can you develop a country?

“At the beginning of our opening up to the world, 30 or 40 years ago, we opened our doors to other countries and we borrowed from other countries,” Zhao said.

The envoy added that China-Africa relations allowed for win-win benefits for both parties.

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ECONOMY

CAC targeting two-hour company registration by December

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The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) says it hopes to reduce the time spent to register a company to two hours from 24 hours by December 2018.

Azuka Azinge, the acting registrar-general, CAC, made this known during a visit of the senate committee on trade and investment to the commission’s Lagos office in Ikeja on Thursday.

She said the commission has created an enabling environment to allow customers register their businesses within 24 hours to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

In 2017, the country moved up 24 places in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking.

“The post-registration is still manual. We are hoping that before the next few months, we should have that online, so that the issue of paying annual returns, which is still very cumbersome at the moment, can be easily achieved.

“We are still working and improving on the pre-registration infrastructure platform. We are hoping that as we continue to do that, the pre-registration process will also become faster, with fewer complaints from the customers.

“We want to reduce the 24 hours it takes to register a company to two hours. We are hoping to do that maybe by the end of the year or before that.”

In April 2017, Mahmud Bello, CAC’s registrar-general at that time, said business owners in Nigeria could conveniently register their businesses online within 48 hours.

He also said the commission had started operating 24 hours company registration process to make startup of business easier in Nigeria.

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ECONOMY

Indonesia seeks to increase crude purchase from Nigeria

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With Nigeria losing out its US market, demand for the country’s crude from the Far East continues to rise.

Indonesia on Wednesday expressed desire to increase its crude oil purchase from Nigeria, in a bid to meet the country’s bourgeoning appetite for the commodity that has risen to 1.6 million per day.

Dwiyatna Widinugraha, the head of economic affairs of the Indonesian Embassy, has submitted the request when he led an Indonesian trade delegation to a meeting with the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Maikanti Baru in Abuja.

Widinugraha said Indonesia with a population of more than 250 million people needed about 1.6 million barrels of crude oil daily to meet its burgeoning energy needs as an emerging economy.

Indonesia, according to the envoy, would prefer to have a government-to-government crude lifting arrangement with Nigeria.

Regular supply of crude by the NNPC, he added, helped Indonesia to achieve energy sufficiency, adding that the country needed further assistance in the form of increased crude oil allocation.

The Indonesia delegation included top shots from the country’s state-owned oil company Pertamina. The company’s vice president , Anizar Burlian, said the delegation came to explore better arrangements of buying the country’s very high grade crude oil.

“Over the years, we have bought huge amount of crude oil from Nigeria. We are extremely happy to buy more Nigerian crude oil which is globally rated to be of very high grade and which is very suitable for our refineries,” Burlian said.

Mele Kyari, NNPC’s group general manager, crude oil marketing, however, said while the corporation was ready to assist Indonesia in the area of crude oil supply, the request for a government-to-government crude supply arrangement should be routed through President Muhammadu Buhari.

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