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Nigerians to pay more taxes, tariffs – FG

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Finance Minister Says Food Prices Rising

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said Nigerians will pay more taxes.

She said this has been captured in the medium term as proposed in the Finance Bill 2021.

The minister disclosed this Monday during a public hearing on the bill organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance.

She said: “While these issues may require modest increases in taxes and tariffs on certain businesses, sectors, industries and individuals over the medium term, this administration remains committed to continuous dialogue and engagement with all stakeholders and interest groups.”

Mrs Ahmed said Nigeria must diversify its revenues from oil to fund critical expenditures.

She said Nigeria also requires more fiscal reforms.

FG’s incomes in outgoing year

The finance minister said as of September 2021, the federal government’s retained revenue was N4.56 trillion, achieving 75 per cent of the budget while its share of oil revenues was N845 billion, representing 56.3 per cent pro-rated performance.

According to her, the “Federal share of non-oil revenues was N1.31tr (117.3% above budget). Companies Income Tax (CIT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) collections were N616bn and N274.4bn representing 121% and 153%, respectively, of the pro-rata targets. Also, customs collections were N418.97bn.”

The minister said the current fiscal policy stance was to let tax incentives with sunset provisions to naturally expire and not to automatically renew them without a detailed tax expenditure cost and benefit evaluation of the relative success of the incentives before extending them further.

She said there will also be an acceleration of the projected increase in tariff and excise duties on tobacco, alcohol and carbonated drinks to fund vital expenditure on health, education, and security as well as wholesale reform of antiquated stamp duties and capital gains tax regime.

In his opening remark, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), said the 2021 Finance Bill seeks to introduce strategic and broadminded, positive reforms that would engender best practice, statutorily check borrowing by local, states and federal governments.

“It is instructive to state that the essence of the 2021 bill is to further reposition our finance system to plug wastes, close openings for corruption, create opportunities for employment as well as stimulate stability and growth in our productive sectors, within the wider context of our quest for economic recovery in our country,” he said. The chairman of the committee, James Abiodun Faleke (APC, Lagos), said the committee will analyse the submissions by the various stakeholders as regards the proposed amendments and submit its report.

A member of the committee, Mukhtar Ahmed (APC, Kaduna), called on the finance ministry and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to speed up the excise duty on carbonated drinks which, he said, will reduce the increasing cases of diabetes.

‘Too early to name taxes to increase’

When one of our correspondents sought clarification from the finance minister to give specifics on the taxes and levies to be increased, Mrs Zainab said it was too early to give specifics.

“That will be too early as we are working to complete the current one,” she told our correspondent in a text message.

However, a source within the Ministry of Finance who craved anonymity, said whilst the Value Added Tax (VAT) would likely not be increased even after the litigations around it were completed, stamp duty might be increased.

“Even after the court cases, VAT might remain at 7.5 per cent but stamp duties might be raised. I can’t say to what percentage but it may likely be reviewed upward.”

He also said excise duties, especially for alcohol and other luxury items would be increased, adding that the conversation was already on.

He said capital gains tax, company income tax and others would be increased.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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Omicron: Govts may shut down schools; 647m children yet to fully resume

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THE World Bank has said that the new wave of COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a variant of the virus, Omicron, ravaging the world, may lead to governments across the globe being tempted to shut down schools again.

The World Bank has said this in a report titled: “Reversing the pandemic’s education losses”, recently released.

In the said report, the bank also said no fewer than 647 million school children are yet to fully resume for either physical or online learning.

It added that school children in developing nations are the hardest hit regarding the negative effects the pandemic has had on education globally.

“When schools around the world moved online due to COVID-19, children in developing countries suffered the most.

“Even though digital learning does not produce the same outcomes as in-person education, technology used effectively can close educational gaps and prevent learning loss.

“As the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, classrooms remain fully or partially closed for as many as 647 million schoolchildren around the world.

“Even where schools have reopened, many students continue to lag behind. It is now abundantly and painfully clear that children have learned less during the pandemic.”

According to World Bank estimates, pandemic-related school closures could drive up “learning poverty” – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – to around 70% in low- and middle-income countries.

This learning loss could cost an entire generation of schoolchildren $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.

“As the Omicron variant takes hold, more governments may be tempted to close schools. Without the online infrastructure in place to support learning, doing so would extend the educational losses and deny children many other benefits of daily school attendance, like the possibility to connect with classmates and develop social skills for personal growth.

“Interactions with teachers and peers are essential to develop the abilities necessary to work collaboratively. Being part of a class promotes a sense of belonging and helps build self-esteem and empathy.

“Throughout the pandemic, marginalised children have struggled the most. When classrooms around the world reopened this fall, it became clear that these children had fallen even further behind their peers.

“Before the pandemic, gender parity in education was improving. But school closures placed an estimated 10 million more girls at risk of early marriage, which practically guarantees the end of their schooling.

“Unless this regression is reversed, learning poverty and the associated human capital loss will hold economies and societies back for decades. Children must be given a chance to recover the education they have lost.

“They need access to well-designed reading materials, digital learning opportunities, and transformed education systems that help prepare them for future challenges. Well qualified teachers and effective use of technology are fundamental to this process.

“Many countries have deployed massive stimulus packages in response to the health crisis. But, as of June 2021, less than three per cent of these funds was devoted to the education and training sector.

“And most of these resources were spent in advanced economies. For many low-income countries, elevated debt-service payments crowd out essential social spending – including for education.

“The resulting weakness in investments to support education and training threatens to deepen the disparities in learning outcomes that existed prior to the pandemic.

“And while narrowing the education gap will require using resources more efficiently, the bottom line is that more resources are needed.

“For the world’s poorest countries, in particular, an acceleration in debt relief under the G20’s Common Framework, would provide fiscal space to increase support for human capital.

Investment in education must include funding for educational technology, taking into account what has worked well in different contexts around the world,” the report said.

The Bank called for improved investment in infrastructure to move education to the digital level and commended countries such as Uruguay and India for making giant strides in that direction.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children.

“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Group are working together to ensure that all education systems use technology effectively to close gaps and help reverse learning losses.

“Embedding the use of technology within an overall strategy for ending learning poverty can help improve foundational skills, increase instructional time, and make the most efficient use of resources.

“This is particularly critical in low-income countries, where technology can provide teachers with the support they need quickly.

“Digital access can serve as a great equalizer. Resources must be invested wisely, taking into account countries’ electricity infrastructure, internet connectivity, digitally enabled devices for the most disadvantaged students, and data-management and implementation capacity.

“Without a carefully considered process to increase the use of technology, good intentions and well-designed policies will fail to achieve the recovery and acceleration of learning that developing countries need.

Access to quality education was uneven before the pandemic, and now it is even more so.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children,” the report added

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Police nabs notorious bandit, Maiyammata during kidnap attempt

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Police Tactical Operatives in Zamfara arrested a notorious bandit popularly known as Maiyammata on Wednesday.

The wanted criminal, who hails from Mayasa village, was apprehended within Zurmi Local Government Area during a patrol.

Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkanah, said he was arrested while trying to kidnap passengers at Koliya.

Maiyammata, formerly of the Bello Turji gang, is now believed to be working for another wanted kingpin, Kachalla Sani-Black.

Sani-Black operates along Zurmi, Shinkafi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas.

“One AK-47 rifle, double magazines with three rounds of live ammunition and one Boxer motorcycle was recovered from him”, the CP told newsmen.

Elkanah added that efforts are on to catch Maiyammata’s partners before charges will be filed in court.

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