The House of Representatives Committee on public accounts has indicted the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) of tax evasion to the tune of about N70 billion spanning between 1999 and 2009.
The committee’s indictment is coming as the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Ifueko Omoigui- Okauru, has sought for defence from NPA. The indictment was the fallout of an interactive session between the House Committee and FIRS boss.
A source close to the committee chairman told The Tide that the committee as in receipt of documents and was ready to probe the matter.
The committee, it was learnt wants more documents on all taxes being owned by the Nigeria Ports Authority to FIRS totaling about N70 billion for the last 10 years.
Details of the alleged tax evasion were not made available to The Tide, although it was confirmed that the FIRS met with the law makers with the intention of making NPA to clear their debt owned.
In another development, the NPA amendment bill when passed into law is expected to address critical issues concerning port concessioning.
Stakeholders and private operators have expressed worry that the present NPA regulatory law does not adequately provide cover for the transactions leading into the concessioning of the nation’s seaports.
A source at National Assembly revealed that the draft amendment bill proposes to increase the directorates in the authority to reflect its role as well as fine-tune the fiscal provisions of the ports act.
It also hopes to empower NPA for port acquisition through purchase, in order to beat the land allocation constraints contained in the land use act even as the bill seeks to empower NPA to promote and regulate private port developments and off-dock facilities among others.
SON Plans Stiffer Penalties For Fake Products
Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has revealed that it would soon seek an amendment to the Act establishing the Agency, which would prescribe stiffer penalties or sanctions for importers and manufacturers of fake and sub-standard products in Nigeria.
Mallam Farouk Salim, Director General of SON, disclosed this in Abuja at a media briefing to mark the 50th-anniversary celebration of SON.
Salim explained that the provisions of the proposed law would not only stipulate that the importers and manufacturers of sub-standard products be fined, but also jailed on conviction by the court.
He said SON is poised to fight against counterfeit and sub-standard products across the country, adding that “any time Nigerians buy sub-standard products, they are aiding and abetting the closure of Nigerian industries and helping the youths to be unemployed.”
Commenting further on the effects of sub-standard products on the economy, Salim said the importers of counterfeit products contribute to the present insecurity in the country, as their activities have led to the collapse of industries in Nigeria.
Noting that the Act establishing the SON was last amended in 2015, he said, before 2015, the penalties were not very clear in the Act. So, the amendment has empowered us for conformity assessment.
“The reason we always amend the Act is that the world is evolving and industries are always changing
“The people following the rules are also changing. Hopefully, before the tenure of this administration, we will have another amendment that will be presented to the National Assembly.
“For example, in 2015, the penalty for importing sub-standard products was N1 million and N1 million now, is not significant.
“Most of these people importing these products are not poor, they are rich.
“In the industry where people break the rules, it is the consequences that stop them.
“So, we need to amend the Act to increase the jail term or give them the right to fine and make sure that jail term is added to it”.
On the activities of SON over the last 50 years of its existence, Salim said the organisation has gone through a lot of transformation and evolved to become a standards regulatory body of global recognition.
According to him: “It is important to emphasise that SON today has evolved into one of the world’s most reputable standards regulatory bodies due to good leadership demonstrated by the successive Chief Executives.
“This is seen in the various innovations championed by the past and present leaders of the organisation.
“Some of the notable innovations over time in the Organisation are the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) for local manufacturing, and Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) for offshore assessment of cargoes’’.
Speaking further on the milestones recorded by SON, he said: “To further demonstrate its desire for a more effective standardisation process, the Federal Government introduced the first ever Nigerian National Standardisation Strategy (NNSS) 2020 – 2022 as part of its economic diversification policy.
The strategy, which was developed by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), is designed to identify priority areas to focus on, based on national needs assessment.
The SON Governing Council recently approved 168 new Standards for publication and dissemination to various sectors of the nation’s economy in furtherance of the ongoing economic diversification policy.
Currently, SON is structured to lead every process that surrounds the preparation of standards relating to products, measurements, materials, and processes among others, and their promotion at the national, regional, and international levels.
“Working within the provisions of the Enabling Act, SON under my leadership, SON has been able to, through the Standards Council, designate, establish, and approve standards in respect of metrology, materials, commodities, structures, and processes for the certification of products in commerce and industry throughout Nigeria.
“SON is a member of international constellations of standards regulators such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
“Upon assumption of duty in September 2020, we have set some goals to make the Organisation to effectively deliver its mandate.
“So far, we have been able to facilitate the return of SON to the Ports and ensure the election of Nigeria into the standards management committee of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), among others.”
SON was established in 1970 with the creation of the Nigeria Standards Organisation (NSO) as a Department under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Coy Begins Cargo Tracking In Lagos Port
Webb Fontaine, a leading service provide for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has put in place cargo tracking system trade automation for use in Apapa Port.
This was disclosed to our correspondent by Webb Fontaine’s Operations Manager in Nigeria, Vlad Lonescu, who said the feat, which is a breakthrough and major milestone in NCS modernisation drive, will aid online, real-time, and live monitoring containers within controlled areas in the customs zone at the port and outside of the port.
According to him, anomalies such as containers missing in transit, tampering with the seal, broaching, and removal of cargo before the examination can be easily detected and traced using the technology.
It will also change the narrative that neighbouring countries like Benin Republic are ahead of Nigeria in areas of customs and ports aided automation.
According to him: “Customs officers trained by Webb Fontaine will operate the system that will aid in achieving more operational successes that could have been done manually”
The new system, he said, comes with many advantages including building shippers’ and port users’ confidence in theft prevention and curbing other unlawful activities.
“It will save the cost and time of using too much manpower to provide escort services for cargoes in transit as their movements within a geo-fenced zone will be monitored.
“Diversions of cargoes from specified movement itineraries will be swiftly detected with further preventive mechanisms activated to prevent loss or theft of cargo’’.
The feat in Apapa, which will also serve as test run that will be replicated in other ports across Nigeria, will help to position the country as one with a competitive port, befitting for hub status in the West and Central African region.
Webb Fontaine has succeeded in automating the Lagos Free Zone which is first of its kind in the county sitting on 82 hectares of land.
The Lagos Free Zone automation makes the complex stand out amidst 42 other free zones in the country being the first to be so technologically wired for trade.
It is the first free zone in the country to be proximate to the most modern and equipped Lekki Deep-Seaport.
Webb Fontaine’s trade solutions in Nigeria is presently impacting on more than 25 government agencies through automation of their processes and bringing Nigerian business world closer to what obtains in advanced economies where it is providing services, Lonescu said.
“This cargo tracking system, it will function in Apapa, Tin Can port with 2 Inland Container Depots with many objectives, among which is to decongest the port and improve the revenue of the NCS.
“It is also a way of monitoring the containers that are moving between the port and outside, which means we will have eyes on the containers at all times. Therefore, if there is any attempt to tamper with the process, we can immediately flag it and alert the customs officers.
“The NCS will monitor the full process; we are in charge of training the officers that are going to operate and supervise the transit of the goods. They will be in a control room with screens, computers and digital maps, from which they can monitor the movement of each containers.
“By doing this, the port will be decongested, and all stakeholders like the terminal operators, ship owners, freight forwarders and all will be confident that when they move cargo from the port, things will not get lost and they will be safe.
“For now, we are in the pilot stage, and we are bringing in specialists to train officers both inside and outside the port. For Customs, we’re going to do Web Fontaine’s Training the Trainers, so we are not training all the officers who will be in charge of this system; we will train a few, who will then pass on the knowledge
By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
NNPCL Flares 100% Gas Output Earns Zero Revenue In Sept
In spite of the Federal Government’s gas monetisation policy and pledge to the United Nations to attain net zero by 2060, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. flared 100 per cent of their gas output in September and earned no revenue from it during this period.
The NNPCL gas production and utilisation data for September 2022, obtained by The Tide’s source described its subsidiary, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company as one of the worst offenders in gas flaring in September.
The firm and its Joint Venture partners, Seplat Petroleum Development Company and NPDC-Chevron Nigeria, flared 100 per cent of their entire gas output of 106 million standard cubic feet of gas and 7 million standard cubic feet of gas, respectively.
The firm further noted that Newcross Exploration and Production Ltd and Belema Oil flared about 96 per cent and 75 per cent of their 112 million standard cubic feet of gas and 21 million standard cubic feet of gas, respectively.
Also, about 8 billion SCF of gas was flared in September, representing 5 per cent of the total gas output for the month, compared with 10 billion SCF of gas flared in the month, of August, according to the report.
This is coming at a time the country is battling a cash crunch due to a drop in its oil revenue on the back of a significant decline in oil production which dipped to below 1million barrels per day, the lowest in 32 years.
The government has been relying heavily on borrowing to finance its activities, as its debt reached an all-time high of N42.84 trillion in June.
The NNPCL gas production and utilisation data did not state why the firm had flared the whole of its gas production for the month. The firm’s spokesperson, Garba Deen, did not also respond to both phone calls and messages sent to him.
Mobil emerged as the highest gas producer in the month under review with a total output of about 25 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 23 BSCF of gas and flared 1.6 BSCF of gas.
Shell Nigeria followed with a total gas output of about 25 BSCF of gas, utilising 24 BSCF and flaring 0.5 BSCF; Chevron Nigeria produced about 24 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 23 BSCF and flared 0.2 BSCF of gas and Total Energies Nigeria produced about 23 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 22 BSCF and flared 0.6 BSCF of gas.
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