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Statistician Advises FG On Training, ICT Policies

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A statistician, Mr Oladejo Ajayi has advised the Federal Government to effectively implement Statistics Act, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy to strengthen the statistical system.
Ajayi, who was the first Director-General of the then Federal Office of Statistics, gave the advice in an interview with The Tide soruce in Abuja, yesterday.
The statistician also stressed the need for training of officials in the system as it would go a long way in improving their job.
He said that effective implementation of the policies would also enhance administrative statistical system in the country.
“The policies are there, for instance, there is Statistics Act, which specifies clearly how the system should be coordinated.
“There is ICT policy in Nigeria; these are infrastructure required for putting data together for other sources.
“ Also, the technical understanding in terms of training is very important and this is the area the country needs to improve on,” he said.
Ajayi, also an international consultant on statistics said those in the data industry needed to be trained to be able to receive the shock of receiving data from different sources.
“There are policies and well defined programmes on statistics but implementation is usually the problem,” he emphasised.
The consultant, however, advised the government to reposition the National Statistical System for data revolution.
According to him, data revolution is changing the way of collecting data to make positive decision, in revolution something new comes up and replaces the old.
He said that the National Statistical System should be robust, pro-active and well-coordinated to accommodate data coming from other sources, “that is, talking about the age of big data”.
“We have a Federal System of Government and there are three tiers of government, Federal, State and Local government.
“If the statistical production systems at all these levels are not well coordinated, even for basic tradition data, how can we add all other sources of data which are really very big?
“Take for instance, the data that is going through telephones, internet and other means of communication.
“The country should be ready to handle all these when it looks at the technical issues and standardise various information required to go into production of big volume of data,” he said.
He further advised the private sector to support the efforts of government, saying“ one should not expect the Federal or State Government to do these things alone’’
Ajayi advised the country to take a cue from South Africa, adding that the country was ahead of Nigeria in data revolution, sharing and handing of big volume of data.
“I think there are a lot of lessons Nigeria can learn from South Africa as it has done in terms of using ICT for data gathering and processing.
“Although, the country is far ahead of Nigeria; the statistical system is also weak but they have ICT to back it up, that is covering some of the gaps,” Ajayi said. (NAN)

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Implementation Of 7.5% VAT Begins, Feb 1

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The Federal Government will from February 1 begin the implementation of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax espoused by the finance law.
The law, according to the government will take effect after all the necessary administrative procedures must have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, confirmed the development in Abuja at the inauguration of the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, last Thursday.
She said the February 1 commencement date had put to rest every speculation regarding the take-off date of the new VAT regime.
The minister said once a bill is signed into law, it takes effect immediately, but noted that there were certain administrative procedures and formalities to be finalised before commencement.
The VAT increase which is meant to help government achieve its revenue projections for the 2020 budget is a part of the tax reforms included in the 2019 Finance Act.
She said with the Act, there would be more revenue to finance key government projects especially in the areas of health, education and critical infrastructure.
She said, “The implementation of the Value Added Tax is to take effect from February 1, 2020, after all the necessary administrative procedures have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.”
The minister’s remark however, contradicts an earlier claim by the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who said the new VAT increment took effect from January 13 when the 2020 Finance Act was signed.
The minister told the members of the FIRS board that the responsibility bestowed on them was critical to the smooth operation of the various tiers and arms of government in Nigeria and, by implication, the well-being of the Nigerian people.
The newly appointed Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, vowed to reposition the service for improved performance.
Nami said he would implement policies that would ensure maximum increase in tax revenue.
He said as tax administrators and custodians of the Nigerian tax system, the FIRS had a responsibility to implement all tax policies and laws in a manner that would ensure optimal benefits to the nation.
In achieving these objectives, he said his agenda to reposition the FIRS for better service to taxpayers would be anchored on four cardinal pillars.
These include rebuilding FIRS’ institutional framework by strengthening the capacity of departments and units to deliver on their mandates and robust collaboration with stakeholders to eliminate critical bottlenecks in the tax system.
Others are to build the FIRS into an institution that supports Nigeria’s longing to become an investment destination and to make the FIRS an agency in which its people, processes and technologies are all geared towards a clear goal.
In order to achieve these agenda, he said within the next three months, a lot of initiatives would be implemented.

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Nigeria’s Debt Profile Now Hits N26.22trn

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The Federal Government and the 36 states as well as the Federal Capital Territory owed a total N26.22tn as of September 30, 2019, the Debt Management Office has disclosed.
The amount indicated that the total public debt rose by 2.02 per cent in the 12 months from September 2018, when the federal government, the states and the FCT owed a total of N25.7tn.
The Director- General of the DMO, Patience Oniha said this at a ‘Presentation on Public Debt to Stakeholders’ in Abuja.
She explained that the figures for December 2019 were not ready, adding that the DMO saw the need to make some clarifications concerning the country’s debt profile.
“There has been so much about debt in the public forum and we want to clarify some of the issues,” Oniha said.
Noting that the National Assembly approved all the borrowings made by the federal government, the DMO boss suggested that all Nigerians were collectively responsible for the debt since they were represented at the National Assembly.
She said, “Borrowing is not approved by one man. It is not determined by one man.
“Borrowing is not ad hoc there are laws and laid down provisions for borrowing.”
She added that the public debt stock was cumulative, involving borrowings made by previous administrations.
According to Oniha, the devaluation of the exchange rate, brought about by the economic downturn, considerably hiked the country’s debt profile.
“Exchange rate devaluation increased external debt stock by over N1tn,” she noted.
Oniha explained that the total public debt as of September 2019 included promisory notes amounting to N821.65bn which had been issued to settle the Federal Government’s arrears to oil marketing companies and state governments.
According to her, the issuance of the promisory notes was in line with the promisory programme approved by the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly.
The DMO boss said out of total new borrowing of N1.61tn provided for in the 2019 Appropriation Act, only the domestic component of N802.82bn was raised due to the late passage of the budget.

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UK-Africa Investment Summit Begins In London, Today

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The maiden edition of UK-Africa Investment Summit begins today in London.
The event which will be hosted by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, according to the organisers is expected to bring together African leaders, international business chief executives and heads of international organisations “to create new partnerships that will deliver more investments and jobs” to the benefit of people and businesses in African countries and the United Kingdom.
President Muhammadu Buhari arrived London last Friday to participate in the inaugural summit
A statement by Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina in Abuja, last Thursday said apart from highlighting new perspectives on UK-Africa Partnership for Prosperity, issues of Sustainable Finance and Infrastructure; Trade and Investment; Future African Growth Sectors and Clean Energy and Climate, are expected to dominate presentations and discussions during the summit.
“With the expected take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in mid-2020, the London investment summit will provide Nigeria with the opportunity to project itself as a leading investment destination for new industries.
“In addition, the summit will deepen Nigeria-United Kingdom investment ties post-Brexit given that Africa currently represents just two per cent of British trade activity, with Nigeria accounting for only 10 per cent of that total,” the statement said.
Adesina said the Nigerian delegation to the investment meeting would further showcase what the federal government has gone through policies and legislations to improve the investment and business climate in the country.
While in the United Kingdom, President Buhari is expected to hold a meeting with the Head of the Commonwealth, Prince Charles in Glasgow, Scotland.
“The President and his delegation will also have bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Johnson as well as heads of multilateral organisations”, Adesina added..
President Buhari is accompanied to the summit by Governors Yahaya Bello, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, and Gombe states, respectively.
Also on the presidential entourage are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd); and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
President Buhari is expected back in Abuja on Thursday.

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