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Expatriate employment levy: CPPE raises concerns over new policy

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…Calls for investors in real sector, oil and gas, others

By Seun Ibiyemi

The Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf has raised major concerns over the new Expatriate Employment Levy [EEL] policy.

According to a statement made available to Nigerian NewsDirect, CPPE noted the recent introduction by the Federal government of the dual purpose of promoting the localisation of skills and economic growth, the broad objectives of the scheme are laudable, but raised serious concerns about the unintended consequences of the policy.

Dr Muda stated that there are extant legislations and regulations with similar objectives.

“There is the expatriate quota which empowers the Nigeria immigration service to give approvals to companies for expatriate staff engagement only when there is no local capacity.

“Companies currently pay $2,000 per expatriate annually. This is an equivalent of about N3 million at current exchange rate. The new levy is $10,000 for staff and $15,000 for directors, which translates to N15 million and N22.5 million respectively.

“There is the National Content Act for the oil industry which offers tremendous opportunities for indigenous investors to offer services to oil and gas companies. Indigenous capacity in the sector had grown remarkably since the enactment of the act.

“There are presidential Executive Orders 3 and 5 which directed the MDAs to give first right of refusal to indigenous contractors, service providers for procurement purposes.

“The point to the point to stress is that implementation of these legislations and regulations has been very weak thus affecting the outcomes. The problem is not lack of policies, but the institutional structure to deliver results.”

Speaking on the implications of the new policy for investment, he said, “The timeline for compliance is too short. The policy gave barely four weeks for companies to comply.

“For such a major policy shift, companies needed to be given a minimum of six months. It is only fair and just to do so. This would be very disruptive for their businesses, plans and projections.

“Some of the companies affected are major investors that have invested billions of dollars and have been in Nigeria for decades. This administration, being an investment friendly regime, should give companies more time.

“The country needs more direct investors than portfolio investors at this time. But ironically, both foreign direct investors and domestic direct investors would be more negatively impacted than portfolio investors.”

He also said that the economy needs more investors in the real economy – oil and gas, manufacturing, infrastructure, mining, ICT, Healthcare – all of which require varying skills and competencies.

“The truth is that major FDIs will typically hire some critical staff to oversee their investments. It is imperative to give some consideration to this class of investors, given the scale of their investments which could be in billions of dollars.

“The challenge of influx of foreigners, especially the unskilled ones, is more pronounced in some sectors than others. Vulnerable sectors include construction, distributive trade, hospitality and logistics. The policy should be targeted at these more vulnerable sectors.”

However, he said there are serious implications for diaspora Nigerians. The policy may trigger reciprocal actions from other countries and this may affect Nigerians in diaspora. There are currently over 17 million Nigerians in various countries around the world doing extremely well in the fields of Education, Medicine, Health, Sports, Media & Entertainment, Leadership & Politics, Finance, Science & ICT, Transportation, Tourism, Industry and Agribusiness.

“This is a pool of very valuable external sector assets for us as a country. We have the largest diaspora population in Africa. We also have the highest diaspora remittances on the continent, generally in excess of $20 billion. All of these could be at risk as a result of this policy.”

Dr. Muda appealed to the government to review the policy and undertake broader consultation to fine tune the policy to ensure that we d o not hurt genuine investors in the country. It is also important to worry about the implications of possible diplomatic reciprocity, especially for our diaspora community.

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Blue Economy Ministry to spend N1.35bn on foreign, local trips, vehicle

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The Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy will spend a whopping N1 billion on the purchase of vehicles in 2024.

The ministry will also spend a total of N35 million on local and foreign travel in the same year under review.

According to the 2024 Appropriation Act signed into law by President Bola Tinubu, the ministry will spend N10 million on local travel and transport: training; N15 million on local travel and transport: others and N10 million on international travel and transport among others.

However, speaking on the appropriation, the President, National Association of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, said the money for the purchase of vehicles for the ministry should be channelled towards port rehabilitation.

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Global growth will hold steady at 3.2% in 2024, 2025 — IMF

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says global growth in 2024 and 2025 is projected to hold steady at 3.2 per cent, at the same pace as in 2023.

This is according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update Report for April 2024: “Steady But Slow: Resilience Amid Divergence” released on Tuesday in Washington DC.

The report said the forecast for 2024 was revised up by 0.1 percentage points from the January 2024 WEO update and by 0.3 percentage points from the October 2023 WEO.

It said the pace of expansion was low by historical standards, owing to both near-term factors, such as still-high borrowing costs and withdrawal of fiscal support.

“Also by longer-term effects from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; weak growth in productivity; and increasing geoeconomic fragmentation.”

The report said there would be a slight acceleration for advanced economies, where growth was expected to rise from 1.6 percent in 2023 to 1.7 percent in 2024 and 1.8 percent in 2025.

It said emerging markets and developing economies would witness a modest slowdown from 4.3 percent in 2023 to 4.2 percent in both 2024 and 2025.

“The forecast for global growth five years from now at 3.1 per cent is at its lowest in decades.”

The report showed growth in Sub-Saharan Africa was projected at 3.8 in 2024 and 4.0 in 2025.

It revealed that economic growth in Nigeria was projected at 3.3 in 2024 and 3.0 in 2025.

The report said global headline inflation was expected to fall from an annual average of 6.8 per cent in 2023 to 5.9 percent in 2024 and 4.5 percent in 2025, with advanced economies returning to their inflation targets sooner than emerging market and developing economies.

“The pace of convergence toward higher living standards for middle-and lower-income countries has slowed, implying persistence in global economic disparities.”

It said on the downside, new price spikes stemming from geopolitical tensions, the war in Ukraine, and the conflict in Gaza and Israel, could raise interest rate expectations and reduce asset prices.

“This is along with persistent core inflation where labor markets are still right.

“A divergence in disinflation speeds among major economies could also cause currency movements that put financial sectors under pressure.

“Amid high government debt in many economies, a disruptive turn to tax hikes and spending cuts could weaken activity, erode confidence, and sap support for reform and spending to reduce risks from climate change.

“Geoeconomic fragmentation could intensify, with higher barriers to the flow of goods, capital, and people implying a supply-side slowdown.”

It said on the upside, that looser fiscal policy than necessary and assumed in projections could raise economic activity in the short term, although risking more costly policy adjustments later on.

“Inflation could fall faster than expected amid further gains in labor force participation, allowing central banks to bring easing plans forward.

“Artificial intelligence and stronger structural reforms than anticipated could spur productivity.”

The report said as the global economy approaches a soft landing, the near-term priority for central banks was to ensure that inflation touched down smoothly.

“They should do this by neither easing policies prematurely nor delaying too long and causing target undershoots.

“At the same time, as central banks take a less restrictive stance, a renewed focus on implementing medium-term fiscal consolidation to rebuild room for budgetary maneuver and priority investments, and to ensure debt sustainability, is in order.”

The report said cross-country differences called for tailored policy responses.

It said intensifying supply-enhancing reforms would facilitate inflation and debt reduction, allow economies to increase growth toward the higher pre-pandemic era average, and accelerate convergence toward higher income levels.

“Multilateral cooperation is needed to limit the costs and risks of geoeconomic fragmentation and climate change, speed the transition to green energy, and facilitate debt restructuring.”

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NCAA suspends licence of three private jet owners

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Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the licence of three Permit for Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF), otherwise known as private jet owners, over alleged failure to comply with regulatory requirements.

Acting Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Chris Najomo, disclosed this to journalists on Tuesday in Lagos.

Najomo said that after issuing a stern warning to the PNCFs in March, the authority deployed its men to monitor activities of private jet owners at airport terminals across the country.

He said that consequent upon the heightened surveillance, three private operators were found to have violated the annexure provisions of their PNCF and Part 9114 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, 2023.

Najomo further stated that the NCAA would be carrying out a re-evaluation of regulatory compliance requirements of all PNCFs owners within the next 72 hours.

This, he said, was in line with the authority’s zero tolerance for violations of regulations.

“In line with our zero tolerance for violation of regulations, the authority has suspended the PNCF of these operators.

“To further sanitise the general aviation sector, I have directed that a re-evaluation of all holders of PNCF be carried out on or before April 19, to ascertain compliance with regulatory requirements.

“All PNCF holders will be required to submit relevant documents to the authority within the next 72 hours,” he said.

Najomo recalled that in 2023, the use of private jets for commercial purposes had gotten the attention of the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), who issued marching orders for cessation of such acts.

He said that in March, NCAA issued a stern warning to holders of the permit for non-commercial flights, PNCF, against engaging in the carriage of passenger cargo or mail for hire and reward.

Najomo said that the riot act was also directed at existing Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders who utilised aircraft listed on their PNCF for commercial charter operations.

“It must be emphasised that only the aircraft listed in the Operation Specifications of the AOC are authorised to be used in the provision of such charter services.

“Any of those AOC holders who wish to use the aircraft for charter operations must apply to the NCAA to delist the affected aircraft from the PNCF and include it into the AOC operations specification.

“NCAA wishes to reiterate to the travelling public not to patronise any airline charter operator who does not hold a valid AOC issued by the NCAA, when they wish to procure charter operation services,” he said.

The NCAA boss, thereafter, encouraged legitimate players in the aviation industry to promptly report such illegal activities to the authority for necessary action.

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