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Official corruption, major enabler of illicit financial flows ––FIRS

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) had saidcorruption and abuse of office by civil servants and political public office holders remain a major enabler of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from the country.

The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, stated this in Abuja on Wednesday at virtual meeting on the review of “Report on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Relation to Tax.”

Nami said that unwholesome practices of multinational, financial institutions and oil and gas companies remained the biggest component of IFFs in Nigeria.

“We are striving to reduce the money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit flow of money from Nigeria and effects of beneficial ownership.

“As it is causing economic downturn which has an unprecedented effect on the economy and lives of Nigerians,” he said.

Nami explained that as of September 2019, the amount recovered from defaulting tax payers was about N37 billion.

According to him,  companies and partnership not paying full taxes are 6,722 while those to enforce taxes are 4500.

He, however, said that, “Stiffer laws and regulations will be enacted to deter future IFF actions by people determined to engage in such acts most especially in the new trend of virtual currencies which is a new technology on illicit financial flows.”

The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said that taxation had played a strategy role in the economy of states hence the need for the gathering.

He added that for Nigeria, taxation was more important as the country was struggling to de-emphasise the importance and relevance and independence on oil revenue for revenue from taxation.

“We must recognise the rapidly changing World and the need to be on top of our games as a nation.

“The Tax man of today if he must remain relevant must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.

“Martin Luther King Jr said ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’

“We must not only speak out but we should ACT now.

“We will use the recommendation to push for policy reforms that will help block the loss of financial revenue to our country and where there is a need for corruption in the commercial transaction,” he said.

A discussant at the Occasion, Mr Taiwo Oyedele of the Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader, said to tackle IFFs, Nigeria needs to start from the basics which include the use of data, intelligence to follow the money; then build up on it.

Oyedele said that the country needs coordinated, complementary strategies for shadow/black economy, price inflation, corruption and other crimes.

According to him, IFFs make legitimate businesses uncompetitive and puts honest people at a disadvantage, adding that lack of consequences for bad behaviours is essentially an incentive to do more.

Oyedele said that tackling IFFs would expand Nigeria’s tax base and improve revenue generation – consequently reduce budget deficits, debt accumulation and debt service cost.

He said that beyond revenue generation, if successfully implemented, measures to curb IFFs would also help to tackle funding of terrorism, political instability, other forms of insecurity and crimes.

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AfDB, GGBI partner to strengthen Africa’s green bond market

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, has signed a declaration with the coalition of development finance institutions to promote green bond markets in Africa.

AfDB’s Group Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Ms Hassatou N’Sele, said this in a statement issued on the bank’s website.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Africa’s engagement in the green bond market currently represents less than one per cent of the more than 2.2 trillion dollar community green bond issued in 2022.

N’Sele said the institutions in the Global Green Bond Initiative (GGBI) comprised the European Investment Bank,  European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti.

Others are the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, Green Climate Fund and Germany’s KfW development bank, while PROPARCO of the AFD Group act as consortium of European development finance institutions.

The AfDB’s chief financial officer signed the declaration with representatives of the coalitions’ institutions on the sidelines of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

N’Sele said the engagement was to tap from the Global Green Bond Initiative technical assistance programme announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in June 2023.

”The Initiative will help private capital flow from institutional investors into climate and environmental projects in EU partner countries, increasing their access to capital.

”Providing technical assistance to green bond issuers in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs), and crowding in private investors through a dedicated de-risked fund.

”This will act as an anchor investor in green bonds issued in EMDEs.

“The anticipated impact can be up to 15-20 billion euro in green investments,” she said.

N’Sele said the partners supported the origination of green bonds, development and identification of pipelines of green projects, and the development of credible and coherent green bond frameworks.

“This joint declaration among us to collaborate on technical assistance on green bonds in Africa is our commitment to work together and it is significant and impactful.

”There cannot be impactful development in Africa without vibrant local capital markets,” the AfDB official said.

N’Sele highlighted the AfDB’s engagements in the green bond market, including issuing over 10 billion dollar worth of green and social bbondsin 2022 to support sustainable progress across Africa.

“Let’s help Africa fully leverage the power of green bonds, and we can contribute together towards a sustainable future for Africans,” she said.

Mr Stefano Signore of the European Commission’s partnerships directorate, described the partnership with the AfDB as an important milestone in efforts to mobilise green bonds in emerging developing economies.

Also, representative of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) expressed hope that the partnership would contribute to the intensification of climate and environmentally relevant projects.

”We hope to also contribute to pipelines that can set off the mobilisation of the global green bond initiative.” 

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NIS opens passport office in Ikorodu

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The Comptroller- General of Nigeria Immigration Service(CGI), Mrs Caroline Adepoju ,on Friday assured Nigerians that they would get their passports within three weeks of submitting their applications.

Adepoju gave the assurance while  inaugurating  a new passport office in Igbogbo community in  Ikorodu, Lagos State .

Adepoju said  passports  would now be processed and  issued speedily  provided applicants submit all the required  details in their applications.

She advised the public to ensure that they renew their passports six months  before its expiration to avoid problems while applying for visa to some countries.

Adepoju thanked the people of Igbogbo for their support and for  providing all that was needed to start  operation in the area.

“I thank the traditional ruler  and the people of Igbogbo for their support and for  ensuring the realisation of this project.

“This is my first assignment after my confirmation as the substantive  Controller General of Nigeria Immigration Service.

“I want to advise the public to ensure they renew their passport  six months before expiration to avoid being denied visa by  some countries,” she said.

Speaking, Gov. Babajide Sanwoolu  said the establishment of the passport office in Igbogbo would improve service delivery i to Nigerians and save the  people of Igbogbo and environs the stress of  traveling far to obtain tbeir passports..

Sanwoolu, represented by Mr Ibrahim Layode,  Commussioner for Home Affairs,  said the role of Immigration in any country could  not be over- emphasised.

He said that the establishment of the  passport front office in Igbogbo was a testament to Federal Government’s commitment to providing world -class immigration  services in line with global standard.

Also speaking, the council Chairman of Igbogbo Baiyeku Local Counvil Development Area(LCDA) Mr Olusesan Daini, urged the CGI to consider expanding operations  at the new   passport front office .

Daini said the council would synergise with NIS to ensure the edifice was  maintained.

“We will also improve our  security architecture to ensure the office is secure.”he said.

He said that the new passport office was a welcome development as residents  would no longer have to travel far  to obtain or renew their passports.

“The establishment of this passport front office in Igbogbo will improve commercial activities.

“The council will also improve its  security architecture to provide adequate security  in the area,” he said.

Adeboruwa of Igbogbo, Oba Orimadegun Kasali ,who spoke on behalf of  all the  traditional rulers in Ikorodu Division , said he was very happy that the passport front office was established in  his domain.

He added that it would go a long way in improving commercial activities in the area.

Adeboruwa commended  all those who facilitated the establishment of  the passport office in  the community.

“I cannot say  how happy I am today, infact ,this office will  put Igbogbo community in world map.

” I appreciate everybody that has contributed in one way or the other to make this  a success,especially  the family that donated the land .

“I am glad that Igbogbo  passport office has come to  stay,” he said.

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Nigeria, Germany sign Siemens power project accelerated implementation agreement

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President Bola Tinubu and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were witnesses to the signing of an accelerated performance agreement in Dubai on the Siemens power project in Nigeria.

The agreement was signed on the side-line of the on-going 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28 by Mr Kenny Anuwe, Managing Director of FGN Power Company on behalf of Nigeria.

Ms Nadja Haakansson, Siemens Energy’s Senior Vice-President and Managing Director for Africa signed on behalf of the German company.

Speaking after signing the agreement, Anuwe highlighted Siemens Energy’s effective delivery of crucial equipment worth more than 63 million Euros to Nigeria since the commencement of the project.

This includes 10 units of 132/33KV mobile substations; three units of 75/100MVA transformers, and seven units of 60/66MVA transformers, currently being installed by FGN Power Company at various sites.

The Dubai agreement was signed to expedite the implementation of the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) to improve Nigeria’s electricity supply.

The PPI, formerly known as the Nigeria Electrification Roadmap Initiative, was the outcome of the visit by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Abuja in August 2018.

An agreement was signed between the governments of Nigeria and Germany in 2019 to improve Nigeria’s power sector.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, stated on Friday in Abuja that since assumption of office, Tinubu had advocated the accelerated realisation and expansion of the PPI.

To achieve this, the project has been a major focal point in three rounds of bilateral discussions at meetings between President Tinubu and the German Chancellor in New Delhi, in Abuja and in Berlin.

The Dubai agreement will facilitate the modernisation and expansion of Nigeria’s electric power transmission grid with full supply, delivery and installation of Siemens-manufactured equipment within 18 to 24 months, Ajuri stated.

It will ensure project sustainability and maintenance with full technology transfer and training of Nigerian engineers at the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), he added.

The project will also focus on identified load demand centres with particular emphasis on economic and industrial hubs nationwide and the execution of new 330kV and 132/33KV substations in target load centres with economic priority.

These are in addition to thousands of kilometres of overhead transmission lines to connect new substations with existing ones, Ajuri also stated.

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