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Experts support FG proposal to raise VAT

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Some financial experts say the Federal Government’s proposal to the incoming government to raise the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent will boost the nation’s revenues, if properly chanelled.

They said this in separate interviews with journalists over the weekend in Lagos.

Department of Economics, Pan Atlantic University, Prof. Bright Eregha,  said raising VAT to 10 per cent would have positive impacts on the economy.

“This will enhance the revenues and reduce borrowing from international developmental partners.

“Smaller countries around us are having more VAT collections and why not ours, that has the largest economy in the continent?” he said.

He said that the incoming  government could boost its fiscal revenues by ensuring more eligible payers into tax net.

“Incorporating  more people in the informal sector will enhance government’s fiscal revenue projections, especially now that there is decline in our country’s revenues.

“The informal sector is making a lot of money; it’s time to remit anything in form of taxes to the authorities,” the professor said.

Also, President, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITAN),  Mr Adebayo Adesina urged the incoming government to give more emphasis on indirect taxes to achieve the 10 per cent VAT increase.

“The indirect taxes is the way to go if government is expected to enahance its revenues.

“It is a type of tax that is often paid for goods and services without being aware that it is being deducted,” Adesina said.

He said that the incoming government should continue to educate the citizenry on the importance of paying taxes for the growth of the economy.

“Payment of taxes is crucial for our development in order to address competing needs of the society.

“Also, the authorities need to show more transparency and accountability to encourage more citizenry to pay their taxes as it is a social contract between the government and the people,” Adesina said.

In his view, former President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Mr. Okechukwu Unegbu, said the Federal Government could expand its VAT increase by automating its operations.

“Utilising more of technology and accurate data is crucial not to evade tax payment.

“Many people, who are living ostentatious lifestyles, are shortchanging the government by paying less than what is expected,” Unegbu said.

He said that the various tiers of government should collaborate more to have an effective tax system in the country.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has urged the incoming administration to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the current 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent.

According to her, this will stimulate the country’s economic growth.

The Minister made the call during a courtesy visit to the headquarters of Voice of Nigeria (VON) in Abuja.

Mrs Ahmed said, “VAT is one of the ways to increase revenue, and we still have to increase VAT because at 7.5 per cent, Nigeria has the lowest VAT rate in the world, not in Africa.

“The African average is 18 per cent; when you increase your VAT, your Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow.”

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Fidelity Bank distributes food packs to families in Keffi

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Leading financial institution; Fidelity Bank PLC has distributed food packs to women, widows, children, and the vulnerable in Keffi, Nasarawa State as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

Addressing journalists in Keffi, Nasarawa state during the distribution event tagged, “Fidelity Food Bank Initiative,” which was carried out in partnership with ABBASID Charity Foundation, the Divisional Head, Brand and Communication Plc, Fidelity Bank, Meksley Nwagboh, emphasised the bank’s commitment to supporting communities all across Nigeria through its Food bank initiative.

“Since April 2023 when we launched the Fidelity Food Bank initiative, we have distributed over 100,000 food packs in more than 100 communities nationwide.

“This is borne out of the premium we place on the wellbeing of our host communities as well as our commitment to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 and 3 which speak to Poverty eradication, Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-Being respectively.”

On her part, the Founder of Abbasid Foundation, Hajia Hauwa Abbas, said the food bank drive started when she was chosen as the bank’s Food Bank partner in the North and listed some of the benefitting states to include Jigawa, Zamfara, Zaria, Kebbi Bauchi, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

‘’I am very pleased with Fidelity Bank because as much as they are doing business with us in our community, they are also giving back to us, especially women.”

The food distribution event also saw Sen. Wadada Ahmed, representing Nasarawa West Senatorial District, leverage the Fidelity Food Bank outreach to provide additional food items to residents of the community.

Senator Ahmed, who was represented by his wife, Zainab Wadada-Ahmed, said the move was in continuation of his philanthropic gesture to his constituents especially for orphans and widows.

‘’We are here today to give back to our people and considering the hardship in the country, this is the little that we can do. I appeal to well-meaning Nigerians to try and collaborate to see how we can help the people that do not have,” she said.

Appreciating the gesture from the bank and her partners, one of the recipients, Mrs. Susan Nyikwagh, urged other well-meaning persons and organisations to take a cue from the bank and come to the aid of the vulnerable ones in the society.

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8.5 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

The bank has won multiple local and international awards including the Export Finance Bank of the Year at the 2023 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards, the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and Finance Awards; Best Bank for SMEs in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023; and Best Domestic Private Bank in Nigeria by the Euromoney Global Private Banking Awards 2023.

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FG issues licenses to IIM, certifies Data Protection professionals

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By Matthew Denis

On Monday, The Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) granted a license to the Institute of Information Management (IIM) to administer exams and certify future data protection professionals in the country.

The NDPC National Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Vincent Olatunji handing over the certificate to the institute in Abuja stressed that the move aims to address the significant capacity shortfall of over 500,000 professionals in the data protection field and reduce the expenses associated with obtaining certification overseas.

The Commissioner explained that the initiative will help to generate more jobs in the country and prevent capital flight.

He said, “When we started in 2021 by advertising, four organisations applied within the organisation. We invited them for presentations and we are choosing the best. They have gone through a lot of technical sessions with us, evaluating the platform that they are going to use, discussing with their staff on the process, just to ensure that we have the best for the country.

“What the country stands to gain from this process, is  the fact that we are promoting executive order articles 003 and 005 to promote local content in Nigeria. Most of us who are certified in data protection have international certifications.

“We had to pay in dollars to write exams, and to maintain our certification on a regular basis. So, we are trying to domesticate this in Nigeria to have a national certification process. More importantly, looking at our number in the country and looking at the number of data protection professionals that we are going to produce in the country.

“We are looking at over 500,000, which we cannot afford to allow capital flight in this area. More importantly, with the current technology, we are looking at a way that this process will become a pan-African initiative, whereby data professionals, when they have the national certification process that we have in Nigeria, will be able to practice in any part of Africa.

“So it is a way of creating jobs for our people, a way of reducing capital flights, a way of developing globally competitive human capital data privacy and protection ecosystem. We are also going further to develop the training manual, which is unique to us. And that is why all the trainers in Nigeria will be using it.

“It will also create jobs for both already licensed data protection compliance organisations who will now be accredited to trained professionals that will prepare to write these exams, And looking at the integrity, the pedigree of the organisation that we have chosen, this is really important to us.

“And that is why the process was long. And we are happy that today, we are making history,  a major milestone, and the data privacy protection ecosystem continues. And we are leaving a legacy that is going to be very robust and stand the test of time and that will be comparable or even be better than anyone in any part of the world.”

While responding, President of the Institute, Dr. Oyedokun Oyewole, praised the Commission for enhancing the country’s data protection standards.

He noted that his organisation underwent a rigorous licensing process and pledged to fulfill its responsibilities diligently to the Commission.

“I want to assure the NDPC and the National Commission that we will not disappoint by putting in our best as usual to evolve as the best certification platform for data protection in Africa.

“You can be rest assured that IIM will deliver as promised and  I want to appreciate you for giving us this opportunity, and we hope to continue to work with the commission.”

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AGF, RMAFC back proposed 300% hike in salaries of Judiciary

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By Matthew Denis

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi has supported the proposed 300 percent increase in the salaries and allowances of judicial office holders in the country by President Bola Tinubu.

The AGF alongside the National Judicial Council (NJC), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMAFC), among others, endorsed the proposal while giving reasons.

Speaking during a one-day public hearing on a Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to Prescribe the Salaries and Allowances and Fringe Benefit of Judicial Office Holders in Nigeria and Related Matters, 2024,” Fagbemi urged the committee to note that the efforts to improve the remuneration of judicial officers in the country has a chequered history.

The public hearing was organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters chaired by Senator Mohammed Tahir Monguno (APC – Borno North).

He said, “I wish to remark that the Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) Bill 2024 is quite innovative, aside from the increment in the basic salary, it also took cognizance of certain peculiarities of the administrative structure and operation of the judiciary.”

“This Bill will birth an appropriate and commensurate remuneration that will ensure judicial independence and integrity.

“The present-day but sad reality is that the judiciary has stagnated on the same salary scale for over 16 years, this is totally unacceptable and quite antithetical to any meaningful judicial reform.

“I strongly commend this Bill for your kind consideration and do urge the Senate to support and ensure the passage of this Bill in the national interest of promoting the rule of law.”

He added, “In consultation with the judiciary and other key stakeholders, we are also interested in ensuring a holistic review of our judicial system to respond to the justice needs of Nigeria.”

“This is why I am taking immediate/urgent steps to establish a Working Group on the review of the Constitution and other relevant laws. The Working Group will, among others, focus on the key provisions aimed at achieving the judiciary that responds to the evolving justice needs of Nigerians.

“At the appropriate time, and I promise very soon, we will come up with proposals for Constitutional and Statutory reforms of the Judiciary in particular, and the Administration of the Justice System in general,” he concluded.

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