From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, has said African nations can generate huge revenue from excellent tax administration, calling for autonomy of tax agencies.
Speaking to chief executives of African Tax Authorities at the African Tax Administration Forum and International Monetary Fund seminar, with the theme “Board Governance in African Revenue Authorities” in Cape Town, South Africa, recently, Fowler said the future was bright for Africa, even as he urged African leaders to strengthen tax institutions and prime them to generate more revenue for their countries.
Fowler stated that tax revenue grew from N1.846 trillion in 2007, when FIRS was granted autonomy, to an average of over N4.5 trillion in 2015, while in the Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS), tax revenue grew from N50 billion in 2007 to N270 billion in 2015.
Fowler, who spearheaded the autonomy of the LIRS as a pace-setter in Nigeria, shared the experience of the autonomous FIRS and LIRS in his presentation. He pointed out that the autonomy of the Nigeria’s tax authorities has triggered a surge in collection by tax authorities in the country.
“Clearly, revenue authorities across Africa have the potential to generate funding for their respective governments and they will perform better if they are allowed to fully be in charge of their day-to-day operations and empowered to hire staff, pay competitive salaries and provide regular training for staff,” he said.
The FIRS boss added: “The compelling evidence from Nigeria’s experience is that wherever revenue authorities have been granted operational, administrative and financial autonomy and allowed to operate with minimal civil service bureaucratic encumbrances, revenue administration has been enhanced and tax collection performance has gone up significantly.
JAMB: 2016 admission deadline sacrosanct, says JAMB
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has reaffirmed that the November 30, 2016, deadline for admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria remains sacrosanct, as it would not shift the date, except for serious case, which the board must approve.
The board also said that it has taken the lead in that regard asking all institutions to resolve any admission issue(s) within the deadline.
JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, who reaffirmed the date at the extra-ordinary 2016 Technical Committee Meeting on Admissions in Abuja, reminded stakeholders of the rules and regulations guiding the 2016 admission process and urged them to abide by it to ensure transparency and fairness.
He said: “I need to re-state that the Senate and the academic boards of institutions have the responsibility of recommending candidates to JAMB for admission. The board will not initiate or insert any candidate(s) but will ensure that no candidate(s) is unjustly treated by any institution. Our role is to ensure that justice, equity and standards are maintained,” he said.
He advised institutions yet to update their 2017 admission requirements in their brochure to do so for clear guidance of candidates: “Whatever waivers that might be applicable in institutions should be clearly defined in the brochure. A situation where requirements that were not stated in the brochure to guide candidates suddenly appear during admissions exercise would not be accepted.”
AGRICULTURE: Lokpobiri: FG to save over N2trn through food storage
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government has projected that it would save over $8 billion (N2.5bn) through the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), an agency under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development based in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, confirmed this when the Executive Director of NSPRI, Prof. Olufemi Peters, and his team visited him in Abuja. He said the institute has been able to fabricate and develop technologies to reduce the storage problems of all food crops in Nigeria, with a view to increasing the nation’s agricultural self-sufficiency through adequate post-harvest loss reduction.
The minister’s assertion was based on findings from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) fact sheets and NSPRI survey conducted in all geo-political zones in 2013, which estimated food losses to be 51.3 metric tonnes across all crops valued at $8.9 billion.
He noted that the present government has achieved increased food production and also identified the high percentage of losses along all stages in the post-harvest value chain, which is being addressed as part of the solutions to food security.
Earlier, the NSPRI executive director told the minister what the agency has done in the course of positioning the institute to play prominent roles in the country’s quest for economic diversification. He said that the agency would continue to develop appropriate post-harvest technologies for farmers, agro-allied industries and other stakeholders.
NATIONAL PLANNING: Minister identifies causes of recession, proffers solutions
From Basil Obasi, Abuja
Minister for National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has attributed the economic downturn in the country to the slide in crude oil revenue due to low price as well as the activities of militants in the Niger Delta region.
The minister, who spoke through his media aide, Mr. James Akpandem, explained that the current recession being witnessed in the nation’s economy was caused by the twin effects of reduction in output from oil exploration and the slide in the price of crude oil in the international market.
Udoma expressed displeasure over the unpatriotic activities of Niger Delta militants, which left the country with production output slightly above one million barrels as against the initial projection of 2.2 million barrels per day.
The budget and planning minister said: “If oil revenue has flowed in according to projections, the country’s foreign exchange earnings would not have taken the level of downward trend we have witnessed and the negative multiplier effects on our exchange rate, employment and inflation would have been a different story.
“We blame the past administration because they were unable to do the needful; they ought to have built the necessary shock absorber that would save the country from volatility inherent in dependence on a highly volatile sector as the only source of revenue.
We must find a way out of the current over-reliance on oil as the nation’s mono-economic mainstay by looking at other sources where income can be generated. This basically informed our resolution to diversify the revenue base of the country,” he said.
FCTA: FCT council defends mass demolition of illegal structures
From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), an agency under the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration, has explained that it always serves demolition notices long before embarking on removal of any illegal structures in the FCT.
Speaking at the weekend during an interaction with journalists to clarify some misconceptions, the Deputy Director, Information and Head of AMMC Public Relations, Mrs. Grace Zamani, explained the recent demolition of the business premises of two companies.
According to her, “The 24-hour notice served on them, precisely on September 5, 2016, was a final notice that precedes actual removal. Their claim of short notice has always been their excuse each time demolition is carried out by the council.
“We have, sadly, observed that, over time, people do not pay heed to such government directives, probably because we now give them ample time in order not to be seen as not to have a human face. They tend to take us for granted.”
Zamani recalled that the “AMMC, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board and others, had, in the past four months, embarked on massive sensitisation campaigns, meeting owners of illegal structures and slums face-to-face, urging them to remove such structures because they seriously deface the city.
“Gladly, most of you were part of that campaign, which was given wide coverage, and I expect our law-abiding residents to simply obey the laws.”