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Group Wants Customs To Release Information On Tax Waivers

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The Environmental Rights
Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has requested that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to release detailed information on tax waivers, grants and other benefits that British America Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) and other tobacco companies benefited from under the now-rested Export Expansion Grant (EEG) Scheme introduced by the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2002.
The EEG scheme is an export incentive designed to assist indigenous exporters to expand the volume and value of their exports, diversify export markets and become more competitive in the international market.
The group in a statement said exporters get cash grants for exporting semi-manufactured or manufactured products with the incentive element in the graduation of the grant according to volume of export sales.
The Head, Media and Campaigns of the Organisation, Philip Jakpor noted that Under the scheme, which was adjusted in 2003, the federal government gave up to 40 per cent to any industry that exported and repatriated money on intermediate and finished products.
According to him,’’ ERA/FoEN believes that BATN which had over the years claimed it was paying billions of naira in taxes did not actually qualify to benefit from the scheme and merely hid under the platform of manufacturer to lech on Nigeria.
In a letter addressed to the Comptroller-General of NCS on 28 November 2016 and copied to the Minister of Finance,  titled Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act with specific reference to the tax benefit (s) in the tobacco industry, ERA/FoEN made 11 specific requests.
In the letter by ERA/FoEN solicitors – A. M. Kotoye, FCTI, the group is requesting the volume and brand names of cigarettes exported from Nigeria from 2002 till present, by which company and to which country, and volume and brand names of cigarettes imported into the country within the same time frame.
ERA/FoEN is demanding the release of information on how much BATN benefited from the EEG from 2004 to 2014, tax waivers or tax exemptions  the company benefitted from the Nigerian government from 2004 till date, and how much tax waiver, or grants benefited by any other tobacco company operating in Nigeria within the same time frame.
It is also asking for information on the volume of raw tobacco leaf BATN imported into Nigeria and from which country, volume of shredded tobacco imported  into Nigeria by  BATN and from which country as well as volume of raw tobacco leaf imported into Nigeria by any other tobacco company, into Nigeria and from which country.
The group also wants to know the volume of shredded tobacco by any other tobacco company, into Nigeria and from which country, location of cigarette factories in Nigeria as well as volume and brands produced from each factory.
The text of the letter also detailed that if the NCS believes that another agency, ministry or department of the government has greater interest in the information requested for, it is obligated under Section 5 of the FOI Act to transfer the request to that agency, ministry or department within three days but not later than seven days of receiving the request.
On why  the FOIA request,

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Osinbajo Solicits Support For FG’s Housing Scheme

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged financial market experts to support the Federal Government’s efforts by developing an appropriate housing finance model that will significantly transform the housing sector on a large scale.
Osinbajo stated this on Monday when he received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the Financial Markets Dealers Quotations Group (FMDQ) led by its Chief Executive Officer, Bola Onadele; who came alongside a delegation from the Independent Petroleum Producers Group.
Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Let’s unlock Nigeria’s housing deficit, Osinbajo tasks financial market experts.’
Economic experts posit that the housing deficit in Nigeria is estimated between 18-22 million housing units, while the ratio of mortgage finance to GDP in the country is only 0.5 per cent, it is 31 per cent in South Africa and two per cent in Ghana and Botswana.
In his address, the Vice President said, “I like the point you made about the National Housing Blueprint. I very strongly believe that if we can unlock the conundrum in the sector, we can get things working.
“In our ESP, we have something on social housing but one of the critical issues there is how to market these houses, how we can provide the finance so that people can afford to buy them. These are houses that are in the order of about N2 million or N2.5 million.
“But there are still constraints on account of the fact that we just do not have anything like a feasible housing finance model, I think it is time for us to do so. It just looks like it has always escaped our capacity to find a real solution to the problem”.
Speaking on the possibility of having a model that will work, Osinbajo noted that “everyone recognises that we are in very challenging times. But I agree with you that the sheer range and vastness of our potentials make it seem almost intuitive that we are bound to succeed.
“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that given the right mix of policy initiatives, we can get these things done. And your characterization of what needs to be done like attracting capital and sustaining it is so important because ultimately, capital will go where it is best treated.
“And if we are able to attract it (because we have the market, we have everything going for us), even in the worst of times, despite the situation, you find that there is still a great deal of interest.”
Speaking earlier, Onadele said the visit was to inform the Vice President about the transformation taking place in the FMDQ and the need for government support in growing the financial market for the benefit of Nigerians and the economy.

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Nigerians Spent N2.33trn On Petrol In 13 Months – NNPC

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Monday said that the total revenue generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.35tn.
Out of this amount, the corporation disclosed, Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.34tn.
A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Garba-Deen Muhammad, said the figures were contained in the May 2021 edition of the NNPC Monthly Financial and Operations Report.
The statement was titled, “NNPC records crude oil, gas sales of $219.75m in May …posts N295.72bn from sale of petroleum products”
It read in part, “Total revenues generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.345tn where Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.336 trillion.
“In terms of volume, the figure translates to a total of 2.241 billion litres of white products sold and distributed by PPMC in the month of May 2021 compared with 1.673billion litres in the month of April 2021.”
Total sales of petroleum products for the period May 2020 to May 2021 stood at 18.65 billion litres and PMS accounted for 99.69 per cent of total volume.
The corporation also recorded a total crude oil and gas export sales of $219.75m in May this year.
The $219.75m represents an increase in sales of 180.29 per cent when compared to the previous month of April this year.
The report stated that crude oil export sales contributed $181.19m (82.45 per cent) of the dollar transactions compared with $4.22m contribution in the previous month, while the export gas sales component stood at $38.56m in May 2021.

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Forex: CBN To Engage Crime Agencies To Fight Fraudsters

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to engage financial crime fighting agencies to pursue fraudsters who have been deceiving the banks with fake documents to buy foreign exchange at cheap rates and sell at higher rates at the black market.
The apex bank had, few weeks ago, stopped selling forex to Bureau De Change operators and asked legitimate travellers to approach the banks to access cheap forex.
This is against the backdrop that many customers have been deceiving commercial banks with fake documents to obtain the forex at cheaper rate, and prevented genuine travellers from gaining access to forex.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had in an earlier statement, said that the BDCs defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users and had become wholesale and illegal dealers.
“They have remained renegade and so greedy, recalcitrant with abnormally high profit from these sales, while ordinary Nigerians have been left to feel the pain and therefore suffer,” the CBN boss said. 
Emiefele had posited that the CBN had maintained its stand to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs.
He urged Nigerians with legitimate business to approach the banks for cheap forex.
According to him, travellers could access up to $4,000 for personal travelling allowance and $5,000 for business travelling allowance.
Findings, however, showed that commercial banks have been reporting fraudulent forex demands to the CBN.
Confirming this, the CBN governor said, “We conducted a study; one of the banks in one day sold to 52 people who said they wanted to travel. After two weeks, they went to check, 40 out of the 52 had cancelled their tickets.
“How could you have a situation where about 70 per cent or 80 per cent who went to bank to buy BTA on the reason that they want to travel, banks sold to them, they turned back and went and sold to the black market. They were asked to return it and we are going to pursue you if you are involved in these nefarious activities.
“If you go to bank with fake visa, fake passport, we have told them not to sell to you. If they sell to you mistakenly, and after two weeks, we check and find that you cancelled your ticket or your visa is fake, they will call you because you are their customer.
“They have your BVN, they have your number, they will call you to return the dollars. If you do not return it, they will place your name on their website, your BVN on their website, we will pick those details.
“We will send them to EFCC and other crime agencies, they will pursue you and you must return the dollars because you cannot acquire it illegally. That is our position”.

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