Saturday, 01 February 2020

The Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria p has warned businesses and individuals against tax evasion as the Federal Government begins the implementation of the 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax on Saturday (today).

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.

With the Act, it is expected that there will be more revenue to finance key government projects especially in the areas of health, education and critical infrastructure.

Among the Finance Act strategic objectives is the supporting of micro, small and medium Enterprises in line with the ease of doing business reforms such as VAT threshold.

The Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mohammed Nami, who was guest on a breakfast programme of the Nigerian Television Authority, urged all businesses to ensure that they register with the FIRS for VAT purpose.

He said any business that failed to obey the tax law would face the wrath of the tax authorities.

He said, “It’s your statutory responsibility whether you just registered today with Corporate Affairs Commission to come over to the Federal Inland Revenue to register as VAT agent. That is the first responsibility.

“The second responsibility is that you should keep good record of your transaction because if you don’t keep good records and eventually during the compliance process and monitoring process it is discovered that you have traded well above N25m, the taxes will be paid in arrears.”

He said the VAT Act already exempts pharmaceuticals, educational items, and basic commodities.

Some of the basic food commodities according to Section 46, that were also excepted include brown and white bread; cereals including maize, rice, wheat, millet, barley and sorghum and fish of all kinds.

Others are flour and starch meals; fruits, nuts, pulses and vegetables of various kinds; roots such as yam, cocoyam, sweet and Irish potatoes; meat and poultry products including eggs; milk; salt and herbs of various kinds; and natural water and table water.

Published in World
Saturday, 01 February 2020 08:48

All set for Ecobank Agribusiness Summit 2020

The Agribusiness summit is part of the bank’s determination to further showcase the potentials in the agricultural sector of the nation’s economy in partnership with Vanguard newspapers, the Economic Forum Series and Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG).

The summit with the theme: “Unlocking productivity and investment opportunities across the Agribusiness value chain is scheduled for February 13, 2020 at the Grand Banquet Hall, Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Ecobank Nigeria had also announced an Agriculture Businesses Finance Scheme where it plans to disburse additional loan of N70 billion for practitioners in different value chains of Agriculture within the next two years.

Head, Agribusiness, Ecobank Nigeria, Mojisola Oguntoyinbo, said the summit is part of the bank’s continuous contribution to the growth and development of the agriculture sector of the nation’s economy.

According to her, a pool of notable thought leaders and industry experts have been assembled to address key and current issues in the agricultural space as it relates to current economic developments and participants will also be given the opportunity to exhibit their products and services within the agriculture value chain.

“This maiden edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit is to stimulate discussions, examine critically the opportunities with the intent of unlocking the growth potentials in the entire value chain of the agric sector.

“The full day event will include keynote speakers, panel discussion sessions and exhibition of Agro and Agro-allied products where marketplace experience will be created for buyers and sellers to interact and make sales. Between 400 to 450 companies, regulators and other stake holders in Agric-business are expected to attend and participate at the event. This will create opportunity for networking among the industry players,” she noted.

Further, Oguntoyibo noted that the Summit would among other things examine the potential impact of agriculture technology investment in fixing low productivity in Nigeria’s food production; how government policy, laws and regulatory framework can drive effective public private partnership; evaluate existing traditional agriculture finance models in Nigeria and the role and impact of technology enabled commodity exchange trading across the agriculture value chain, and the role of developmental partners and international agencies in driving funding and investments across the agriculture value chain.

Jude Ndu Co-Founder, the Economic Forum Series and Director, Vanguard Conferences says “we are delighted to be partnering with Ecobank Nigeria on the conceptualisation, strategy and execution of this high profile event in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agriculture policy and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the federal Government.

“As a media organisation, this is our own way of contributing to the growth prospect of the sector through audience engagement by bringing together critical stakeholders to discuss solutions to the issues of low productivity and investment opportunities across Nigeria’s agricultural value chain.”

Notable participants at the summit include the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Sabo Nanono as Special Guest of Honour, Dr Andrew S Nevin, Chief Economist and Partner, Financial Services Sector, PwC as Keynote Speaker. Other speakers and Panelists are Patrick Akinwuntan MD/CEO Ecobank Nigeria, Abdulhameed Aliyu MD/CEO NIRSAL, Mr Emmanuel Ijewere Vice President Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Ayodeji Balogun, Country CEO AFEX Commodities Exchange, among others.

Published in Bank & Finance

Airbus bribed public officials and hid the payments as part of a pattern of worldwide corruption, prosecutors said on Friday as the European plane maker agreed a record US$4 billion settlement with France, Britain and the United States.

The disclosures, made public after a nearly four-year investigation spanning sales to more than a dozen overseas markets, came as courts on both sides of the Atlantic formally approved settlements that lift a legal cloud that has hung over Europe’s largest aerospace group for years.

“It was a pervasive and pernicious bribery scheme in various divisions of Airbus SE that went on for a number of years,” US District judge Thomas Hogan said.

The deal, effectively a corporate plea bargain, means Airbus has avoided criminal prosecution that would have risked it being barred from public contracts in the United States and the European Union – a massive blow for a major defence and space supplier.

Prosecutors said individuals could still face criminal charges.

Airbus has been investigated by French and British authorities for alleged corruption over jet sales dating back more than a decade. It has also faced US investigations over suspected violations of US export controls.

“In reaching this agreement today, we are helping Airbus to turn the page definitively” on corrupt past practices, French prosecutor Jean-Francois Bohnert said.

France’s financial prosecutor said the company had also agreed to three years “light compliance monitoring” by the country’s anti-corruption agency.

The US Department of Justice said the deal was the largest ever foreign bribery settlement.

Code name: Van Gogh

In a packed hearing at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, an Airbus lawyer said the settlements “draw a clear line under the investigation and under the grave historic practices.”

Outlining detailed findings, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said Airbus had hired the wife of a Sri Lankan Airlines executive as its intermediary and misled Britain’s UKEF export credit agency over her name and gender, while paying US$2 million to her company. The airline could not be reached for comment.

On defence deals, Airbus hired and disguised payments to a close relative of a government official in Ghana with no aerospace experience in connection with a sale of military transport planes, the SFO said. Ghana’s government could not immediately be reached.

Court filings in Britain and the United States outlined efforts to keep relationships and payments secret, including the use of code names such as ‘Van Gogh’ and payments described as “medications and dosages prescribed by Dr Brown.”

The SFO said Airbus sponsored a sports team owned by AirAsia executives while negotiating airplane orders.

AirAsia officials have strongly denied any wrongdoing in connection with the 2012 sponsorship agreement between the Caterham Formula 1 racing team and Airbus’ then parent EADS.

AirAsia could not immediately be reached for comment.

The British investigation also identified bribery allegations involving Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways, Garuda Indonesia and Citilink Indonesia.

Garuda and Citilink did not immediately respond to requests for comment. TransAsia went bankrupt in 2018.

The US court documents outlined bribery and lavish hospitality involving plane sales to China.. French and US prosecutors said the settlement covered Airbus only as a company and any current or former employees involved in related crimes could still be open to prosecution.

“With this settlement we’ve completed a first phase … we are now going to have to examine individual responsibilities,” French prosecutor Bohnert told reporters.

The UK’s SFO last year abandoned attempts to prosecute individuals following what was then a record bribery settlement with engine maker Rolls-Royce in 2017.

At the centre of the Airbus case was a decades-old system of third-party sales agents run from a now-disbanded headquarters unit that at its height involved some 250 people and several hundreds of millions of euros of payments a year, sources familiar with the matter have said.

Airbus has said it halted payments in 2014 after discovering false statements on the use of agents to Britain’s’ export credit agency and later took its findings to UK authorities.

An internal investigation, which racked up legal bills of around €100 million a year, led to a board-driven clearout of top management and plunged Airbus into years of self-examination, hampering its sales efforts.

The probe also triggered an internal row over responsibility for lapses, with Airbus employees insisting they had no control over the choice of agents or offset deals handled under a separate entity, EADS, the former Airbus parent company.

Others say the system, whose roots go back decades to an era when payments to win deals were tolerated and tax-deductible, was an open secret in the company and French political circles where it was intertwined with influence-building abroad.

Published in Travel & Tourism
Saturday, 01 February 2020 06:21

Africa’s Locust Outbreak Needs $76m Urgently

The worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years needs some $76 million to help control measures and the money is “required by, actually, now,” the United Nations (UN) said.

So far, just $15 million has been mobilised to help stop the outbreak that threatens to worsen an already-poor hunger situation for millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and elsewhere, Dominique Bourgeon, emergencies director with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told a briefing in Rome.

“You can imagine that a country that has not seen such a thing in 70 years is not well prepared,” he said of Kenya, East Africa’s economic hub.

The outbreak, blamed in part on a changing climate, now threatens to spread to South Sudan and Uganda, and new rains in the weeks to come will fuel fresh vegetation and a new wave of breeding. The outbreak might not be under control until June, when drier weather arrives, authorities have said.

But by then the number of locusts, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times, experts have warned.

“If after April the money has come, it’s somehow useless,” FAO chief Qu Dongyu told the briefing. “So the timing, location, is crucial.”

Already, the locusts, moving in swarms of hundreds of millions, have stripped some crops bare. An Ethiopian representative at the briefing told the FAO that some farmers in Africa’s second most-populous nation have lost 90 per cent of their production.

The locusts have been moving steadily towards Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, the country’s breadbasket, the UN says.

Authorities have said aerial pesticide spraying is the only effective control in the outbreak, but officials in Kenya and elsewhere have said more planes and more pesticide are needed.

Even before this outbreak, nearly 20 million people faced high levels of food insecurity across the East African region long challenged by periodic droughts and floods.

 

Credit: The Associated Press

Published in Agriculture
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