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Twitter, Facebook, Google, others now to pay tax in Nigeria

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The Senate on Tuesday passed the Finance Bill 2021, transmitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, on December 7, 2021.

The passage by the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Joint Committee on Finance; Customs, Excise and Tariff; Trade and Investment.

One of the major highlights of the Bill is the aspect empowering the Federal Inland Revenues Service (FIRS) to assess non-resident firms like Twitter, Facebook, Google,  and Netflix, among others.

They are to be taxed  on fair and reasonable turnover earned from digital services to Nigerian customers.

The Finance Bill further mandates FIRS to appoint persons for the purpose of collection and remittance of non-resident taxes.

In his presentation, Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, said the Bill seeks to support the implementation of the 2022 Federal Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability by proposing key specific taxation, such as Customs Duties, fiscal charges and other relevant laws.

Adeola, representing Lagos West, said a total of 12 Acts were amended under the Finance Bill which contains 39 clauses.

He said the Bill seeks to promote fiscal equity, align domestic tax laws with global best practices, introduce tax incentives for infrastructure and the capital market and support small businesses with a view to increasing government’s revenue.

“The Finance Act 2020 was predicated essentially on having no new taxes and no new incentives due to the COVID -19 impact on the economy, as such, it was structured across four broad thematic areas; Enacting counter cyclical measures and crisis intervention initiatives; Tax, fiscal responsibility and public procurement reforms; Reforming fiscal incentives policies for job creation; ensuring closer coordination of monetary, trade and fiscal policies and Enhancing tax administration,” Adeola said.

The committee based on its observations, recommended five per cent Capital Gains Tax to be imposed on shares’ disposal transactions where gains exceed N250 million in 12 months.

It recommended that Gaming and Lottery companies be taxable, as it applies to oil and gas companies.

The Bill underscored the need for midstream and downstream oil and gas companies to be liable to corporate tax, without the benefit of tax exemptions for firms exporting goods to earn foreign exchange.

The Bill equally sought more powers for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to collect the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) levies on Nigerian companies and to streamline tax, levy collection from Nigerian companies in line with the administration’s ease of doing business reforms.

The committee stressed the need for the Federal Government to ensure that FIRS deploys both proprietary and third-party tech applications to collect information from taxpayers, enhance confidentiality and non-disclosure and to enable them investigate tax evasion and other crimes and sanction tax defaulters.

The Bill further empowers FIRS to assess and tax non-resident firms on fair and reasonable turnover basis on revenue earned from digital services to Nigerian customers, with a further mandate to appoint persons for the purpose of collection and remittance of non- resident taxes.

The committee demanded necessary reforms on securities lending transactions, minimum tax for insurance companies and companies in general, taxation of unit trust income, real estate investment trust, and insurance companies capitalization by NAICOM in line with tax equity.

It urged the government to mandate FIRS as principal tax revenue collection agency, to collaborate with law enforcement agencies and MDAs in streamlining tax collections by enhancing public financial Management reforms.

According to the joint committee, doing so would reduce revenue leakages and better track actual expenditure to revenue performance in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended), Fiscal Rules and other Extant Money Acts.

It also called for the diversification of Nigeria’s revenue from oil to other sectors to fund critical expenditures.

The committee demanded an increase of 0.5 per cent in education tax, pushed for close monitoring of unfolding development and policies on VAT, tax incentives, projected increase tariff on tobacco, alcohol and carbonated drinks to fund vital expenditure on health, education and security, with the possibility of introduction of new taxes, tariffs and levies as the economy recovers.

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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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