The Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Engr Austin Ben-Chioma, has dispelled rumours making the rounds that the state government demolished structures that were not originally marked by the construction company handling the Rumuogba flyover project for demolition.
Ben-Chioma, who cleared the air on the rumours, on Tuesday in a chat with newsmen while supervising the demolition exercise, noted that the ministry only demolished structures that the construction company, Julius Berger had marked as being in the Right of Way (RoW) of the flyover, and for which compensation was paid.
He said that there was enough evidence to show that the ministry had not exceeded the demolition instruction given by Julius Berger Plc.
According to him, “I am on site and evidences are shown as you can see that we did not exceed the red line marked by Berger” adding that the property owners, “are not telling the truth because the evidences are visible and verifiable”.
The commissioner pointed out that, of the three flyovers under construction, the Rumuogba flyover was the longest with about 517.5 metres length.
He, however, noted that there was the challenge of high-rise buildings along the path, which must be cut to maintain the RoW of the flyover, having given the property owners till Thursday, January, 16 (yesterday) to do the reduction themselves to avoid using the ministry’s tractors which could negatively impact the buildings.
On the payment of compensations to those affected by the demolition, the works commissioner said 95 per cent of the compensation had been paid already to affected landlords.
“Government has paid 95 per cent of compensation to property owners and they are complying with the process,” he said.
Corroborating the claims, the consultant in charge of compensation for demolished structures, Mr Emma Wike, said all affected landlords would be paid what is due them by the end of the week.
According to him, most of the claimants, we sent them letters and those that gave power of attorney to consultants, estate surveyors and valuers or lawyers, we also wrote to them and informed them this is where the payment is being held. They’ve been coming to collect their money; within the week, we are going to pay more and if we do that, it will be remaining less than 10 percent of those that have not collected their money.
Piracy, A Threat To NNPC Operations -GMD
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has described piracy and other criminal vices in the nation’s waterways as a threat to the corporation.
This is as the corporation said the nation lost about $750 million to oil theft in 2019.
The amount is about N230 billion at the official CBN exchange rate of N306 to $1.
This was contained in a statement by the NNPC Acting spokesman, Samson Makoji, on Wednesday.
The Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, was quoted to have stated this during a presentation to members of the Executive Intelligence Management Course 13 of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) who visited his office.
Kyari noted that any threat to the corporation’s operations was a direct threat to the very survival of Nigeria as a nation because of the strategic role of the corporation as an enabler of the economy.
The GMD listed other security challenges facing the corporation to include vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure and kidnapping of personnel, adding that there was a deep connection between the various shades of insecurity challenges as they are all linked to what was happening in the Gulf of Guinea and the entire maritime environment.
He called for a concerted effort and synergy to secure oil and gas operations for the economic survival of the country.
Also speaking, the NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Engr Yemi Adetunji, said in 2016, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than half of the global kidnappings for ransom.
He noted that out of 62 kidnap cases globally, 34 involved seafarers.
Adetunji, however, stated that the NNPC was working closely with security agencies to tackle the security challenges, and cited the “Operation Kurombe” that was recently conducted by the Nigerian Navy at the Atlas Cove as an example of such collaborative efforts.
FIRS Targets 17% Tax To GDP Ratio By 2023
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), says it will raise Nigeria’s tax ratio to Gross Domestic Product ratio from the current six per cent to 17 per cent by 2023.
The FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami, said this during a meeting with traders in Lagos.
A statement from the FIRS stated that the objective of the meeting was to sensitise Lagos traders and market unions on the 2019 Finance Act.
Over 100 officials of traders’ associations and unions attended the meeting.
He listed the benefits of the new Finance Act to include reduction of the Company Income Tax from 30 per cent to 20 per cent.
Nami urged the entrepreneurs to register their businesses officially rather than operate informally in order to access the benefits from the Act.
He urged the traders to separate their personal finances from their business capital in order not to lose their working capital to state tax bodies.
The FIRS stated that doing so would help their businesses to grow as they pay less tax.
He urged the traders to endeavour to charge value added tax on applicable goods and services, especially consumption, and remit it to the FIRS promptly.
Nami also disclosed that more FIRS tax offices would be opened in markets nationwide to bring the service nearer to traders and make tax compliance easier for them.
He said the FIRS under his watch would reposition its corporate social responsibility activities to benefit the informal sector, including markets, in order to create a conducive business environment for them.
SON Opens Talks With China Over Sub-Standard Products
In a bid to check the menace of substandard goods in the country, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), has opened talks with Chinese trade authorities.
Special Assistant to the Chief Executive of SON and Head of Public Relations, Mr Bola Fashina, disclosed this in an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday.
Fashina said the deal with China would ensure that Chinese factories that produce items for Nigerian manufacturers implement at least the minimum Nigerian standards for goods destined for the nation.
According to him, discussion with the Chinese authorities was opened in June 2019 and had reached advanced stages.
He disclosed that another meeting that had been fixed for the first week of February could not hold because of the current coronavirus ravaging some parts of China.
The deal with China would ensure that factories in the Asian country reject orders from Nigeria that do not meet Nigerian standards.
Fashina said, “The authorities are not happy that some of their manufacturers are giving their country a bad name. That is why we are working with them to nip the problem in the bud.”
Generally, on the menace of substandard products, Fashina said that the regulatory body was having more challenges with imported goods than with the ones manufactured in the country.
He said for goods made in Nigeria, they could be taken back to the factory while it is difficult to make amends for goods that were manufactured abroad.
“Our major problem is with imports. That is also because it is difficult to catch them from the source. We have been out of the ports since 2011.
“Sometimes we work on information from Interpol. We follow them when they are out of the ports and sometimes we miss them,” he stated.
Fashina said that importers of substandard products prefer taking their goods from the ports during weekends and public holidays.
He said the facilities and centres of the organisation across the country had been strengthened to rein in substandard products throughout the federation.
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