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Road construction: FIRS Chairman expresses reservation over N2.59trn Tax Credit Scheme

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The Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service ( FIRS) , Mr Zacheus Adedeji has expressed reservation over the three years old N2.59trillion Tax Credit Scheme introduced by former President Muhammadu Buhari administration for road construction across Nigeria.

Adedeji made the reservation at an interactive session in. Abuja.

The meeting was at the instance of the Senate Committee on Finance, with FIRS management and the NNPLC Management.

Recall that the N2.59 trillion Tax Credit Scheme was introduced via Executive Order 7 of 2021 by Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The Committee led by the Chairman,Sen. Sani Musa had invited the management of FIRS and the NNPLC to brief the committee on implementation of the scheme in relation to the poor state of federal roads across the country.

Adedej said the scheme was unlawful and should be discontinued.

“The mandate of FIRS lumped with execution of Tax Credit Scheme for road construction is to access, collect tax and remit it into the Federation Account and not to appropriate it for any purpose through executive order .

“It is not the duty of FIRS and NNPC Ltd to be paying contractors, the Ministry of Works should be in line with its core mandate and allowed to award road contracts and pay for them.

“As a way of stopping the wrong approach, FIRS and CBN are holding a meeting with the Ministry of Works on Friday Feb 17, where stock would be taken of what has been done through the scheme and thereafter, tow the right path.

“We should in a nutshell, not continue on the wrong trajectory,” he said.

The NNPLC Chief Financial Officer, Mr Umoru Ajiya, clarified on the $3.3 billion loan facility secured for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for stabilisation of naira in the foreign exchange market.

He said that it was secured to support CBN to suppress forex volatility .

Ajiya, however, told the committee members that the tax credit scheme was helping to fix the dilapidated roads across the six geo-political zones in the country with N664 billion spent so far.

He said $2.2billion had already been secured for the apex bank while the balance of $1.05 billion would be credited to the apex bank before the end of the month.

Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Sani Musa said relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended) were against the scheme, because the fund that NNPC Ltd and FIRS were being made to spend on the roads through tax credit was supposed to be remitted into the consolidated revenue fund .

“We are waiting for the outcome of the meeting of the three agencies involved in the scheme, before deciding on how to help the present government to correct mistakes of the past,” he said.

The Road Infrastructure Tax Credit which can be claimed in any year of assessment is limited to fifty percent (50 percent) of the annual CIT liability.

There is however no limit to the tax credit which can be claimed in respect of an Eligible Road in an ‘Economically Disadvantaged Area.’

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Interconnect debts: NCC seeks stakeholder input to develop stronger dispute resolution mechanisms

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In a reaction to unending tussles emanating from interconnect debts owed, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has sought the input of stakeholders in developing stronger mechanisms to resolve disputes.

At a public inquiry which began on May 21, 2024, the NCC is considering amendments to the Telecommunications Networks Interconnect Regulations, Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, and Guidelines for Dispute Resolution.

The Commission is plying this route in line with the diplomatic approach of the new Executive Vice Chairman, Aminu Maida who wants to stir the agency to achieve regulatory excellence and build a robust communications sector that supports the Nigerian economy.

Speaking, Maida, emphasised the significance of the public inquiry in ensuring transparency and inclusivity in the regulatory process.

According to him, “These regulatory instruments play a vital role in shaping our communications landscape and it is essential that we visit and refine them to address emerging challenges, trends and opportunities. The instruments that we considered during the course of this public inquiry are vital in ensuring the communications sector meets the demand of the ever-evolving digital age.

“The first Regulatory instrument in our agenda today is Telecommunications Networks Interconnect Regulations. As we all know, interconnection plays a vital role in enabling seamless communication between two different networks, and facilitating the growth of the communications industry in Nigeria. This review is crucial to keep pace with technological advancement, foster competition, protect consumer interest, align with international standards and improve regulatory efficiency in the industry.”

Likewise, Ag. Head Legal & Regulatory Services of NCC, Mrs. Chizua Whyte, said the commission recognises the need for swift adaptation of regulatory instruments to keep pace with the evolving communications industry and emerging technologies.

Whyte emphasised the importance of collaboration with stakeholders in driving significant advancements in the sector.

She noted that the commission values the contributions of stakeholders and looks forward to working together to shape a strong and dynamic industry.

In her words, “As the communications industry evolves with emerging technologies, our regulatory instruments must adapt swiftly. The Commission’s collaborative efforts with stakeholders have driven significant advancements and will continue to propel the sector forward.

“This Public Inquiry underscores our commitment to regulatory excellence and to building a robust communications sector that supports the Nigerian economy. We value your contributions and look forward to shaping a strong, dynamic industry together.”

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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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