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Nigerian Banks Frustrate Solar Energy Expansion – Expert

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A solar energy expert and Chairman of AO Demarg, General Ademola Fadunsi (rtd) has blamed banks for the slow pace of solar energy investments in Nigeria, saying the inability of banks to grant loans to investors in the sector had made investment difficult.
This was even as he hailed the Federal Government for releasing N2 billion through the Bank of Industry (BoI), for investors in the industry to access.
The retired military General, speaking in Abuja, regretted that local banks were not willing to assist solar energy investors to develop the country’s solar energy sub-sector even when according to him, many people were now embracing solar power as alternative and reliable source of energy.
Fadunsi hailed the Federal Government’s intervention through the BoI by releasing the N2 billion for solar power development in the country. He said:”Let me say here that we in the business need long-term financial backup from financial institutions but unfortunately, in Nigeria today, local banks are not giving out loans to anybody”.
He added that with the interest government was putting in the solar energy business, 2018 would be promising. Hear him: “Government is now putting more interest in the solar energy business, they have through the Bank of Industry, released about N2 billion solar fund for individuals and investors to access for the purpose of solar power. I think it’s a good start and in a right direction.
“With what the government is doing in the area of mini grid, 2018 seems promising especially by its ongoing partnership with the World Bank in this area. We see a better future next year.” He particularly lauded the government for providing a level playing ground for all players in the solar industry, saying the development had encouraged local investors not to look back in their efforts to develop the sector.
“The government is giving everybody a level playing ground depending on your capability or technical knowhow and financial backup because even though they are giving out funds too, you as an investor or vendor, must contribute some certain percentage to keep the commitment so that you won’t see the money given to you as free money, “ he said.
Fadunsi also commended the government for its initiative to focus more on connecting rural, especially remote communities with solar mini grid, saying the development will go a long way in addressing energy needs of the people besides reducing undue pressure on the national grid. “Government is already in solar mini grid, it’s a good step to power the rural areas and a good step to give light and life to rural communities”, he noted.

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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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