Six Top Quotes From Muhammad Nami’s Speech At The 2020 FIRS Corporate Retreat

The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Alh. Muhammad Nami is presiding over the 2020 FIRS Corporate Plan Retreat at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja with participants and guests from all works of the Nigerian society.

The discussions here will weigh on the importance and role of the FIRS in fulfilling their mandate and achieving a prosperous Nigeria.

While speaking at the retreat, Muhammad Nami highlighted the plans of the FIRS in the coming year, the new administration and its commitment to the service and also how it intends to reach its N8.5Trillion target

Here are 6 quotes from the points made by the FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami:

1 – “Since I assumed office as the Executive Chairman, we have revised the organizational structure of the Service to reflect Management aspirations, reviewed TCC’s administration process and issuance programme to general public, reviewed and redesigned tax audit and investigation functions. Currently, we are reviewing all lien cases with a view to closing them and introducing new enforcement strategies.”

2 – “ “FIRS plays a strategic role in the nation’s political economy, including supporting the actualization of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s commitment of moving the country up on the Ease of Doing Business Ranking, taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years and rebuilding Nigeria’s critical infrastructure by generating sufficient revenue through expanding the tax net and efficient service delivery.”

3 – “The repositioning of the Service would be anchored on four cardinal pillars:
– Rebuilding FIRS’ Institutional Framework
– Robust Collaboration with Stakeholders
– Building a Customer (Taxpayer)-Centric Institution
– Data-Centric Institution.”

4 – “We have initiated several reform projects with a view to reversing our current under- performance level to a more acceptable one. We have agreed with my team that in the next four years we will improve our performance on a long term and sustainable basis. We have given ourselves a minimum target of $5million staff-to-revenue ratio and 10% tax-to-GDP ratio over the next four years.”

5 – “For the year 2020, we have a target of =N=8.5trillion which is slightly lower than the 2019 target by =N=300billion. … Looking at our performance in the recent past, one may look at the 2020 target as ambitious, but I can assure you that it is achievable especially with the ongoing reforms and business process re-engineering that are taking place in the Service.”

6 – “… if we are able to detect and block tax avoidance schemes by Multinational Corporations, that will also go a long way to improve our tax revenue collection..”

Many who are attending the 3 Day retreat – from policy makers, journalists, legislators, Finance sector experts among others – have described both Nami and the new FIRS as apt, delivery focused, vibrant, and dependable.

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USAID, United Bank For Africa Sign Memorandum Of Understanding

U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Prosper Africa initiative is partnering with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and the nations of Africa.   This partnership ensures businesses are equipped with the technical and financial tools they need to enter into new trading and investment relationships in Africa and the United States.  

USAID will provide technical assistance and advisory services to prospective businesses through its Trade and Investment Hubs, and will connect UBA with African Diaspora business groups working across the United States.  The MOU enables UBA, the only sub-Saharan African bank licensed to operate in the United States, to expand access its reach and extend financing to American companies in the United States looking to do business with African nations.

Recognizing tremendous growth opportunities, USAID and UBA are collaborating to advance Prosper Africa’s goal of substantially increasing two-way trade between Africa and the United States. By working together, they will extend financing and technical assistance to businesses that will strengthen the American economy, grow African economies, and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

The two institutions entered into this agreement as part of the opening ceremony of the Tunisia Prosper Africa Conference, co-organized by the U.S. Embassy in Tunis and the American Chamber of Commerce of Tunisia. The event facilitated U.S. and African business-to-business connections and featured remarks by key representatives from the U.S. Government and the U.S. and African private sector.

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Polaris Bank Commences Agency Banking Solution…Unveils “SurePadi”

As part of its digital banking strategy, Polaris Bank recently introduced its Agency Banking Solution to serve as a vehicle to reach the unbanked and underbanked, as well as deepen financial inclusion across Nigeria.

The Polaris Agency banking solution known as “SurePadi” is designed to provide convenient and easy access to funds and other banking services in far-flung neighbourhoods, through partnerships with existing and new retail outlets. Research shows that lack of accessible financial service points is a key factor responsible for Nigeria’s high financial exclusion rate.

According to the Chief Digital Officer of Polaris Bank, Mr. Dele Adeyinka, “The introduction of SurePadi is in line with our plan to deepen financial inclusion by serving the huge unbanked and underbanked population especially in locations where basic banking services are far from reach.”

Mr. Adeyinka further stated that: “With Nigeria’s financial exclusion rate currently at 36.8 percent according to CBN, the goal of achieving 20 percent this year to close the exclusion gap of 16.8 percent is also a factor driving our SurePadi Banking Solution.”

“The SurePadi banking solution is also one of the ways we are helping to reduce unemployment in the country because when you sign up an agent, one of the benefits is that it provides a means of earning additional disposable income,” he added.

Agency banking service is a convenient way of providing limited banking services to customers through the use of Agents who usually are non-traditional bankers or banking businesses.

Services offered by SurePadi include; account opening, funds transfer, deposit funds; cash withdrawals, bills payment, airtime top up amongst other services. SurePadi Agents earn additional income in addition to improved status in the community through brand affiliation with Polaris Bank.

Customers on the other hand will enjoy the convenience and ease that comes with the service, plus low cost of transacting as they are able to save the cost of transportation to banks; they are also able to  access funds  anytime of the day, beyond banking hours (weekends and public holidays).

A SurePadi Agent can be a registered business such as Limited Liability Company, sole proprietorship, partnership, cooperative society, a large retail distribution network, petrol filling stations (Preferably one with a Supermarket or Store) and dealers in FMCG. In addition, unregistered businesses or individuals including supermarkets, retail outlets, and distributors of mobile network operators, business centers, boutiques, provision shops, and sport viewing centers also qualify to be a SurePadi Agents.

Customers wishing to become Polaris SurePadi Agents, are advised to visit the nearest Polaris Bank branch with a passport photograph and a valid means of identification: driver’s license; national identity card, International passport or voters’ card and utility bill (Not less than three (3) months from time of presentation).

Polaris Bank is a future-determining Bank committed to the delivery of industry-defining products, and services, across all the sectors of the Nigerian economy.

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Aisha Buhari opens Abuja 2020 Para Powerlifting World Cup

First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari has drawn attention to the plight of retired para powerlifters and other athletes in Nigeria, many of whom retire into hardship after having served their country superlatively. She made this call during the opening ceremony of the Abuja 2020 Para Powerlifting World Cup, on Tuesday, 4th February, 2020 at the International Conference Center.

Mrs. Buhari said, “I have since observed the contribution of these athletes in reshaping the image of Nigeria with immense significance and the Country owes them a debt of gratitude. She called on the nation to start repaying this debt by ensuring they are well taken care of in their time of need.
“It is in this light, that my foundation, the Aisha Buhari Foundation and other developmental partners will soon unveil a program that will aim to make retired athletes welfare a great priority. I also believe that it was these athletes dedication to hardwork and discipline that won the Country the hosting rights for this competition, being a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games” She said.

Speaking on her involvement, the First Lady said her interest in the wellbeing of the underprivileged led to establishing the Aisha Buhari Foundation and Future Assured and her acceptance to be grand patron of the event.

She congratulated the organizers of the event and called on Nigerians to support team Nigeria, otherwise known as “the unstoppables”. She also welcomed teams from other countries and encouraged them to enjoy their stay in Nigeria.

Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Cecelia Ezeilo, said she had always been a sports enthusiast and that is why she accepted to be the grant matron of the Para Powerlifting Team and felt a sense of duty to organize a fund raising for the event, which turned out successful. She called on the organizers to ensure successful conduct of the event.

Hon. Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Akin Dare said the Para Powerlifting World Cup is significant to Nigeria as it provided the opportunity to implement several related events including a referee training, coaches training, loaders course and anti-doping seminar. He wished the athletes success in the competition. He thanked the first lady for the show of support to the competition, and extraordinary passion for sports in general.
Hon. Minister of State, FCT, who was represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. Chijeaka Ohaa reiterated the commitment of the FCT Administration towards the successful hosting of the world cup as it provides an opportunity to showcase the tourism potential of the Country.
Others who spoke at the occasion include the President, Nigeria Para Powerlifting Federation, Mrs. Queen Uboh Idris, who welcomed members of the international Paralympic Committee and all the countries contingents. She stated that Nigeria was ready for the competition and will not only host but will host well. She also expressed gratitude to the first lady for all the support she has given as grand patron to the competition and as a Mother of the Nation.
Part of the highlights of the event was the presentation of sporting kits to team Nigeria by the Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund, Dr. Bello Maigari.

The opening ceremony was attended by Ghana, Cote d’ivoire, Mali, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Egypt, Italy, Libya, Brazil, Georgia, Kenya, Benin Republic, and Nigeria.
The First Lady was accompanied to the opening ceremony by Wife of the Vice President, Her Excellency, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo and several wives of the State Governors among others.

Aliyu Abdullah
Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
(Office of the First Lady)
January 5th, 2020

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Buhari: Pastor Andimi’s Faith Should Inspire All Nigerians

President of Nigeria eulogizes Brethren leader executed by Boko Haram, and criticizes terrorist efforts to divide Christians and Muslims in Africa’s most populous state.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Nigerians everywhere, those of belief and those of none, are mourning the death of pastor Lawan Andimi, taken from us by Boko Haram for his refusal to denounce his Christian faith.

I did not know Pastor Andimi personally. Yet Nigerians and I both know him and his church by their works: healing, caring, feeding and educating, particularly in the northeastern regions of my country—in those areas threatened for too long by terrorists. Every day, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) places itself there bravely where the brotherhood of man is most in need of sustenance.

Pastor Andimi’s ministry was located only 60 miles from the town of Chibok, from where in 2014 the world witnessed the shocking kidnapping of 267 schoolgirls. That even one individual—this time a man of the church—could still be taken by the terror group seven years later might be viewed as evidence the terrorists are fully functional, and undefeated. But it is not.

Since I was first elected to office in 2015, 107 of the Chibok girls have been freed. Today we seek the others. Boko Haram are no longer one, unified threat, but fractured into several rivals. These splinters are themselves degraded: reduced to criminal acts which—nonetheless no less cruel—target smaller and smaller numbers of the innocent. We owe thanks to the Nigerian defense forces, bolstered by our partnership with the British, American militaries and other countries that we are winning this struggle in the field.

But we may not, yet, be completely winning the battle for the truth. Christianity in Nigeria is not—as some seem intent on believing—contracting under pressure, but expanding and growing in numbers approaching half of our population today. Nor is it the case that Boko Haram is primarily targeting Christians: not all of the Chibok schoolgirls were Christians; some were Muslims, and were so at the point at which they were taken by the terrorists. Indeed, it is the reality that some 90 per cent of all Boko Haram’s victims have been Muslims: they include a copycat abduction of over 100 Muslim schoolgirls, along with their single Christian classmate; shootings inside mosques; and the murder of two prominent imams. Perhaps it makes for a better story should these truths, and more, be ignored in the telling.

It is a simple fact that these now-failing terrorists have targeted the vulnerable, the religious, the non-religious, the young, and the old without discrimination. And at this point, when they are fractured, we cannot allow them to divide good Christians and good Muslims from those things that bind us all in the sight of God: faith, family, forgiveness, fidelity, and friendship to each other.

Yet sadly, there is a tiny, if vocal, minority of religious leaders—both Muslim and Christian—who appear more than prepared to take their bait and blame the opposite religious side. The terrorists today attempt to build invisible walls between us. They have failed in their territorial ambitions, so now instead they seek to divide our state of mind, by prying us from one from another—to set one religion seemingly implacably against the other.

Translated into English, Boko Haram means “Western teachings are sinful.” They claim as “proof” passages of the Quran which state that Muslims should fight “pagans” to be justification for attacks on Christians and those Muslims who hold no truck with them. They are debased by their wilful misreading of scripture—at least those of them who are able to read at all.

Of course, there is much of Christianity and Islam—both in teaching and practice—that are not the same. Were that not so, there would be no need for the separateness of the two religions. Yet though these unread terrorists seem not to know it, there is much between our two faiths—both the word and the scripture—that run in parallel.

For the Bible teaches, “Each one must give as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion” (2 Cor. 9:7), while the Quran states: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Similarly, the Bible states:

“For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror” (James 1:23). The Quran concurs: “Those who believe and do good works, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward” (35:7).

I call on Nigeria’s faith leaders, and Nigerians everywhere, to take these words of concord—and the many more that exist—to their hearts and their deeds. Just as my government, and our international partners, quicken our campaign to defeat Boko Haram within and without our borders, we must turn our minds to the future. There is no place in Nigeria for those who seek to divide us by religion, who compel others to change their faith forcibly, or try to convince others that by so doing, they are doing good.

Rather, we might all learn from the faith and works of Pastor Andimi. There seems little doubt he acted selflessly in so many regards—giving alms and prayers to both Christians and Muslims who suffered at the hands of the terrorists. And he passed from us, rightly refusing to renounce his faith that was not for his captors to take, any more than his life. His belief and his deeds are a lesson and an inspiration to all of us.

Muhammadu Buhari is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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If Africa Is To Reduce Budget Deficits, We Must Increase Revenue Mobilization – Nami, Executive Chairman FIRS

For African countries to reduce their budget deficits, they must work on widening their tax bases, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami has stated.

In a speech delivered during the opening ceremony of the 9th Country Correspondents Meeting and ATAF 1st Experts Meeting on Taxation of the Informal Sector, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS who also doubles as the African Tax Administration Forum’s Chairman,  explained that African countries must find ways to expand their tax base to fund budget deficits. 

In his remarks, he noted that the informal sector in Africa today constitutes between 21 to 70 percent of the GDP of African countries and accounts for between 30 to 90 percent of employment in the region.

He went further to state that despite the large size of the informal sector, it remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax.

“… the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. “ he stated. 

He also noted that it was not politically popular to tax the informal sector.

“Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes.” The Executive Chairman noted. 

Nami also noted that though it may be argued that the informal sector may yield low returns in the short run, the benefits were worth the effort. He further noted that taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and accountability of the State.

“Taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and political accountability of the State because tax strengthens the social contract between the citizens and the government. Thus, informal businesses that contribute to tax revenues are likely to assert their rights to receive certain services from government, thereby ensuring national development and  accountability. The chairman noted. 

Read the full excerpt of his speech here: 

BEING  AN ADDRESS BY THE CHAIRMAN, ATAF, Mr. Muhammed Nami, AT THE OPENING OF THE 9th COUNTRY CORRESPONDENTS MEETING AND ATAF 1ST EXPERTS MEETING ON TAXATION OF THE INFORMAL SECTOR

ON 4th FEBRUARY 2020 IN ABUJA, NIGERIA

PROTOCOL

  • Board Members of the Federal Inland Revenue Service
  • The Executive Secretary of ATAF, Mr Logan Wort,
  • Coordinating Directors, Directors and Staff of FIRS
  • Directors and Members of staff of ATAF 
  • ATAF Country Correspondents and Experts in Taxation of the Informal sector 
  • Distinguished Guest Speakers
  • Our development partners, the African Development Bank
  • Distinguished guests
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

1. I warmly welcome you to this important meeting between the ATAF country correspondents and experts on taxation of the informal sector. I am highly delighted to receive you all to Abuja, the serene capital city of Nigeria. Indeed, this is important to me as it is my very first official assignment as the new Chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).I therefore thank you all for responding positively to the invitation to share your time and expertise with us to help solve one of the major challenges facing revenue mobilization on the continent. Your presence is invaluable to us. 

2. The theme of this year’s Country Correspondents Conference is “The Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa”. This annual gathering of ATAF’s focal persons in members administration affords participants the opportunity to reflect, and exchange views, on the year that has passed and to discuss the activities that form part of the ATAF Workplan for 2020. As a link between Revenue authorities and the Secretariat, ATAF’s Country Correspondents play a crucial role in ensuring that ATAF’s programmes continue to respond to members’ needs. During this meeting, ATAF, in partnership with the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), will jointly hold the 1st ATAF Experts Meeting on Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa. 

3. The meeting is expected to bring together officials from Treasury and Revenue Authorities as well as experts from across Africa to share experiences on practical and effective ways of taxing the informal sector. The objective of the meeting is to assist the ATAF Secretariat to develop, among other products, a comprehensive handbook with practical guidelines to ATAF member countries on how to tax the informal sector. 

5. As at 2017, Africa’s Tax to GDP ratio averaged around 17%. This marks an improvement over time. However this ratio is the lowest in the world and it has resulted in budgetary deficits in most countries in Africa.  It is therefore necessary to reduce and eventually eliminate these deficits if Africa is to meet its development needs.  The low tax to GDP ratio has been attributed to, among other things, low tax capacities and tax inefficiencies. This is made worse by tax avoidance, tax evasion and a large informal sector. 

6. It is estimated that the informal sector in Africa constitutes between 21% – 70% of the GDP of African countries and accounts for between 30-90% of employment in the region. Yet despite its large size, the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes.  In Malawi, for instance, the law provides for withholding tax on imported goods at a rate of 3% but the tax is yet to be implemented due to perceived political consequences (AfDB, 2018).

7. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it may be argued that taxing the informal sector may yield low returns in the short run. However, the benefits are worth the effort. Bringing the businesses into the tax net will instil a tax- paying culture in the businesses, thereby ensuring tax compliance when the businesses expand. Taxing the informal sector is also critical because it will ensure that there is a perception of fairness in the tax system. Those who operate in the formal sector deem it unfair to have to pay taxes while those in the informal sector do not. This impacts their tax morale and can result in low tax compliance among those in the formal sector. Furthermore, in some instances, enterprises within the informal sector create unfair competition for those operating in the formal sector. As a result, this reduces the income generated by the formal firms and also reduces the taxes paid.

8. Taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and political accountability of the State because tax strengthens the social contract between the citizens and the government. Thus, informal businesses that contribute to tax revenues are likely to assert their rights to receive certain services from government, thereby ensuring national development and  accountability. Paying taxes is likely to promote responsiveness by the state to the needs of the informal sector in a bid to encourage voluntary compliance. It is also likely to encourage collective action, collective political engagement and bargaining by the informal sector.

If Africa is to reduce its budget deficits and increase revenue mobilization, it must widen its tax base and the informal sector provides an opportunity to do so. That is why recently, the President of Nigeria, Muhammed Buhari, signed the 2019  Finance Act.  The 2019 Finance Act seeks to create an environment for ease of doing business in Nigeria especially for the small scale businesses in the country. The Act exempts businesses with annual turnover of 25 million naira and below from charging Value Added Tax (VAT) which has now been increased from 5% to 7.5%. However, these businesses would eventually enter the tax net through continuous assessments. This Act is expected to impact positively on the small businesses as well as the  Nigeria economy, in the long run.

9. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is from this background that ATAF seeks to use this event to create a platform for discussion across Africa, as we seek effective ways of taxing the informal sector.Given the diverse skills and experiences represented in this room I cannot imagine a better audience to come up with solutions to the challenges. I am therefore, confident that the discussions that would be held during this workshop will result in solutions as to tax the informal sector in order to build an African model of informal sector taxation.   

10.As you brainstorm over this important tax matter, I will not neglect to urge you all to also make out time to visit the several places of interest which Abuja offers and enjoy the warm hospitality for which Nigeria is renowned. It is now my privilege to declare the 2020 ATAF Country Correspondents Conference and the Informal Sector Workshop open.   I wish you all successful and fruitful discussions. 

11. God bless you all.

Muhammad Nami

Executive Chairman FIRS, Nigeria

ATAF Chairman.

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Finance Act Would Create An Environment For Ease Of Doing Business In Nigeria – Nami, Executive Chairman FIRS

The Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami has said that the recently signed 2019 Finance Act would create an environment for ease of doing business in Nigeria.

He said this in his opening address of the 9th Country Correspondents Meeting And ATAF 1st Experts Meeting On Taxation of the Informal Sector today in Abuja.

Nami explained that the Finance Act would help the ease of doing business especially for small businesses, noting that “the Act exempts businesses with annual turnover of 25 million Naira and below from charging Valued Added Tax …”

He went further to add that “However, these businesses would eventually enter the tax net through continuous assessments. This Act is expected to impact positively on the small businesses as well as the Nigerian economy, in the long run.”

Read the full speech of the Executive Chairman below: 

BEING  AN ADDRESS BY THE CHAIRMAN, ATAF, Mr. Muhammed Nami, AT THE OPENING OF THE 9th COUNTRY CORRESPONDENTS MEETING AND ATAF 1ST EXPERTS MEETING ON TAXATION OF THE INFORMAL SECTOR

ON 4th FEBRUARY 2020 IN ABUJA, NIGERIA

PROTOCOL

  • Board Members of the Federal Inland Revenue Service
  • The Executive Secretary of ATAF, Mr Logan Wort,
  • Coordinating Directors, Directors and Staff of FIRS
  • Directors and Members of staff of ATAF 
  • ATAF Country Correspondents and Experts in Taxation of the Informal sector 
  • Distinguished Guest Speakers
  • Our development partners, the African Development Bank
  • Distinguished guests
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

1. I warmly welcome you to this important meeting between the ATAF country correspondents and experts on taxation of the informal sector. I am highly delighted to receive you all to Abuja, the serene capital city of Nigeria. Indeed, this is important to me as it is my very first official assignment as the new Chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).I therefore thank you all for responding positively to the invitation to share your time and expertise with us to help solve one of the major challenges facing revenue mobilization on the continent. Your presence is invaluable to us. 

2. The theme of this year’s Country Correspondents Conference is “The Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa”. This annual gathering of ATAF’s focal persons in members administration affords participants the opportunity to reflect, and exchange views, on the year that has passed and to discuss the activities that form part of the ATAF Workplan for 2020. As a link between Revenue authorities and the Secretariat, ATAF’s Country Correspondents play a crucial role in ensuring that ATAF’s programmes continue to respond to members’ needs. During this meeting, ATAF, in partnership with the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), will jointly hold the 1st ATAF Experts Meeting on Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa. 

3. The meeting is expected to bring together officials from Treasury and Revenue Authorities as well as experts from across Africa to share experiences on practical and effective ways of taxing the informal sector. The objective of the meeting is to assist the ATAF Secretariat to develop, among other products, a comprehensive handbook with practical guidelines to ATAF member countries on how to tax the informal sector. 

5. As at 2017, Africa’s Tax to GDP ratio averaged around 17%. This marks an improvement over time. However this ratio is the lowest in the world and it has resulted in budgetary deficits in most countries in Africa.  It is therefore necessary to reduce and eventually eliminate these deficits if Africa is to meet its development needs.  The low tax to GDP ratio has been attributed to, among other things, low tax capacities and tax inefficiencies. This is made worse by tax avoidance, tax evasion and a large informal sector. 

6. It is estimated that the informal sector in Africa constitutes between 21% – 70% of the GDP of African countries and accounts for between 30-90% of employment in the region. Yet despite its large size, the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes.  In Malawi, for instance, the law provides for withholding tax on imported goods at a rate of 3% but the tax is yet to be implemented due to perceived political consequences (AfDB, 2018).

7. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it may be argued that taxing the informal sector may yield low returns in the short run. However, the benefits are worth the effort. Bringing the businesses into the tax net will instil a tax- paying culture in the businesses, thereby ensuring tax compliance when the businesses expand. Taxing the informal sector is also critical because it will ensure that there is a perception of fairness in the tax system. Those who operate in the formal sector deem it unfair to have to pay taxes while those in the informal sector do not. This impacts their tax morale and can result in low tax compliance among those in the formal sector. Furthermore, in some instances, enterprises within the informal sector create unfair competition for those operating in the formal sector. As a result, this reduces the income generated by the formal firms and also reduces the taxes paid.

8. Taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and political accountability of the State because tax strengthens the social contract between the citizens and the government. Thus, informal businesses that contribute to tax revenues are likely to assert their rights to receive certain services from government, thereby ensuring national development and  accountability. Paying taxes is likely to promote responsiveness by the state to the needs of the informal sector in a bid to encourage voluntary compliance. It is also likely to encourage collective action, collective political engagement and bargaining by the informal sector.

If Africa is to reduce its budget deficits and increase revenue mobilization, it must widen its tax base and the informal sector provides an opportunity to do so. That is why recently, the President of Nigeria, Muhammed Buhari, signed the 2019  Finance Act.  The 2019 Finance Act seeks to create an environment for ease of doing business in Nigeria especially for the small scale businesses in the country. The Act exempts businesses with annual turnover of 25 million naira and below from charging Value Added Tax (VAT) which has now been increased from 5% to 7.5%. However, these businesses would eventually enter the tax net through continuous assessments. This Act is expected to impact positively on the small businesses as well as the  Nigeria economy, in the long run.

9. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is from this background that ATAF seeks to use this event to create a platform for discussion across Africa, as we seek effective ways of taxing the informal sector.Given the diverse skills and experiences represented in this room I cannot imagine a better audience to come up with solutions to the challenges. I am therefore, confident that the discussions that would be held during this workshop will result in solutions as to tax the informal sector in order to build an African model of informal sector taxation.   

10.As you brainstorm over this important tax matter, I will not neglect to urge you all to also make out time to visit the several places of interest which Abuja offers and enjoy the warm hospitality for which Nigeria is renowned. It is now my privilege to declare the 2020 ATAF Country Correspondents Conference and the Informal Sector Workshop open.   I wish you all successful and fruitful discussions. 

11. God bless you all.

Muhammad Nami

Executive Chairman FIRS, Nigeria

ATAF Chairman.

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AMAC Commences e-Registration Of Businesses To Improve IGR

The Abuja Municipal Area Council Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu ‘Candido’ has announced plans to raise Billions of Naira to improve service delivery in AMAC through improved internally generated revenue made possible by technology.

Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, ‘Candido’, today, while opening a two day training course for revenue officers, themed “AMAC 2020: Open For Business”, at Bolingo Hotel Abuja, on the use of the AMAC Survey App which these revenue officers, also known as enumerators, would use to gather data of businesses operating within the Area Council, stated that his agenda was to exponentially raise the revenue of AMAC to provide funds for the execution of key infrastructure projects.

Describing the e-registration as a revolutionary model, the chairman also noted that with the AMAC online business directory, incidences of double taxation would be eradicated and businessmen would have ease of paying their taxes.

“The AMAC IGR Enumeration effort will be instrumental in fostering a climate where businesses can thrive, as we build the AMAC Online Business Directory. It will also help eradicate double taxation and streamline the burdensome process of paying bills by our esteemed residents.”

“We envision that the current economic challenges in the country provide a unique opportunity to create an inclusive, participatory, bottom-up approach to governance that will stimulate economic growth. As we look to a future where the strength of the local government will be drawn from ideas and partnerships with civil society organisations, schools, businesses and individuals we’d like to start by building a relevant database.” He stated.

He further explained the model which is the first of its kind would transform the way revenue is generated at the local government levels through a clean database, and thus foster development, adding that for citizens to enjoy the dividends of democracy, they must contribute to government’s purse so that government can be able to carry out its obligations.

“With the AMAC IGR Enumeration effort, we want to set the pace in efficiency in local government revenue collection and accountability, and to leverage on all statutory revenue sources.

“The delivery of any kind of development can only be achieved with the use of and efficient revenue database. In the era of improved and efficient delivery of the dividends of democracy it is imperative that AMAC raises her a-game towards maximising her revenue base. When we improve our revenue base, particularly our efforts at collecting internal revenue, there is more that we can do.” Alhaji Adamu noted.

While commending the revenue officers, who he described as “trailblazers”, Alhaji Adamu assured residents and businessmen within AMAC that the exercise would not be an attempt to dislodge or displace anyone, but rather to build a database of businesses within the AMAC, that will “assist the AMAC to do more in areas of completing our ongoing projects and development.”

Simi Fajemirokun, the Principal Partner of Acropolis, the consultants handling the training, stated that the creation of an AMAC Online Business Directory was a major move towards making local governments more autonomous, functional and able to carry out development without begging the State Governments.

The developmental politician explained that this model would work first with collecting data, then collecting revenue, with development as the underpinning motive.

“Without data, government purses will remain poor in the midst of abundance. Plus the matter of collecting revenue works hand-in-hand with development. This is the tripod on which this initiative is standing on. Government needs funds to be able to carry out its projects. But government must create a platform that ensures that those who are being taxed, are the right people, and paying the right amount, not more, not less.” She explained.

The training scheduled for the 28th and 29th of January, 2020, has over 80 attendees and would make use of the AMAC Survey App that would locate businesses, business size, the sectors which they operate, their location, revenue base among others.

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Julius Berger Releases Progress Report For Second Niger Bridge

Julius Berger, the German construction firm has released its occasional report on the progress of the construction of the Second Niger Bridge. The contract for the construction of the 1.6km long bridge and 10.3 kilometre highway also includes the construction of the Owerri Interchange and Toll Station.

The company was awarded the contract in July 2018 with work commencing in September 2018 with a projected contract period of 3 and a half years.

The report, titled Second River Niger Bridge: Progress Report January 10th 2020, states that approximately 30.12% of construction work has been completed.

1,235 persons are so far engaged on site by Julius Berger.

Find below snapshots of the Report and progress photographs as well:

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Chain Reactions, St. Ives Partner in #SmearMyWoman Campaign to Fight Cervical Cancer

In further demonstration of commitment to Corporate Social Investment, Chain Reactions Nigeria, a leading public relations and integrated communication consulting firm, is partnering with St. Ives, a leading multi-specialist hospital to reduce the scourge of cervical cancer in the country. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

Chain Reactions is commemorating the Cervical Cancer Awareness/Prevention Month with an initiative titled, ‘A Smear in Time Saves My Woman.’ The initiative is infused with an awareness campaign tagged #SmearMyWoman, and an activation part: “100% Cervical FREE” that will deliver Free Cervical Screening to 100 less privileged girls and women who otherwise might not be able to afford the test. This is to enable early discovery and treatment of the disease.

Speaking about the campaign, Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Chain Reactions Nigeria, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, said: “Women are gatekeepers of life. They contribute to every part of our lives as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends and colleagues offering support to men and the family. At Chain Reactions Nigeria, we celebrate our women, which is why all of us male executives are championing this cause to share their experience, to empathise with women who are going through cervical cancer. Truth is, whatever affects the women in our lives, affects every one of us”

Females from the age of 14 to 65, especially when they become sexually active, can contract the disease. This puts over 50 million Nigerian women at risk of cervical cancer, which remains the number one cause of all cancer deaths in Nigeria among women of reproductive age (15 – 44).

Globally, cervical cancer kills 720 women daily; that is one woman every two minutes. In Nigeria, out of the 14,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer, about 30 of them die from the disease on daily basis, totalling over 10’000 daily.

Strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is the major cause of cervical cancer. 95% of cervical cancer diagnosis is attributed to lack of knowledge and failure to undergo pap smear screening, hence, the reason for Chain Reactions Nigeria partnering with the St. Ives Healthcare group.

More details about the #SmearMyWoman campaign and 100% cervical free screening initiative, can be found at www.smearmywoman.comChain Reactions, St. Ives Partner in #SmearMyWoman Campaign to Fight Cervical Cancer

In further demonstration of commitment to Corporate Social Investment, Chain Reactions Nigeria, a leading public relations and integrated communication consulting firm, is partnering with St. Ives, a leading multi-specialist hospital to reduce the scourge of cervical cancer in the country. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

Chain Reactions is commemorating the Cervical Cancer Awareness/Prevention Month with an initiative titled, ‘A Smear in Time Saves My Woman.’ The initiative is infused with an awareness campaign tagged #SmearMyWoman, and an activation part: “100% Cervical FREE” that will deliver Free Cervical Screening to 100 less privileged girls and women who otherwise might not be able to afford the test. This is to enable early discovery and treatment of the disease.

Speaking about the campaign, Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Chain Reactions Nigeria, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, said: “Women are gatekeepers of life. They contribute to every part of our lives as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends and colleagues offering support to men and the family. At Chain Reactions Nigeria, we celebrate our women, which is why all of us male executives are championing this cause to share their experience, to empathise with women who are going through cervical cancer. Truth is, whatever affects the women in our lives, affects every one of us”

Females from the age of 14 to 65, especially when they become sexually active, can contract the disease. This puts over 50 million Nigerian women at risk of cervical cancer, which remains the number one cause of all cancer deaths in Nigeria among women of reproductive age (15 – 44).

Globally, cervical cancer kills 720 women daily; that is one woman every two minutes. In Nigeria, out of the 14,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer, about 30 of them die from the disease on daily basis, totalling over 10’000 daily.

Strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is the major cause of cervical cancer. 95% of cervical cancer diagnosis is attributed to lack of knowledge and failure to undergo pap smear screening, hence, the reason for Chain Reactions Nigeria partnering with the St. Ives Healthcare group.

More details about the #SmearMyWoman campaign and 100% cervical free screening initiative, can be found at www.smearmywoman.com

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A Letter From President Buhari At New Year

My Dear Compatriots,

NIGERIA’S DECADE

Today marks a new decade. It is a time of hope, optimism and fresh possibilities. We look forward as a nation to the 2020s as the opportunity to build on the foundations we have laid together on security, diversification of our economy and taking on the curse of corruption. These are the pledges on which I have been twice elected President and remain the framework for a stable, sustainable and more prosperous future.

Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. I salute the commitment of the millions who voted in peace last February and of those leaders who contested for office vigorously but fairly, submitting to the authority of the electorate, the Independent National Electoral Commission and judicial process. I understand very well the frustrations our system has in the past triggered. I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections. But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year.

As Commander-in-Chief, my primary concern is the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens. When I assumed office in May 2015 my first task was to rally our neighbours so that we could confront Boko Haram on a coordinated regional basis. Chaos is not a neighbour any of us hope for.

We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organised criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.
The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry, and in turn will be held to the highest standards of professionalism, and respect for human rights. We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.

The new Ministry of Police Affairs increased recruitment of officers and the security reforms being introduced will build on what we are already delivering. We will work tirelessly at home and with our allies in support of our policies to protect the security of life and property. Our actions at all times will be governed by the rule of law. At the same time, we shall look always to engage with all well-meaning leaders and citizens of goodwill to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.

We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people. Our policies are designed to promote genuine, balanced growth that delivers jobs and rewards industry. Our new Economic Advisory Council brings together respected and independent thinkers to advise me on a strategy that champions inclusive and balanced growth, and above all fight poverty and safeguard national economic interests.

As we have sat down to celebrate with friends and family over this holiday season, for the first time in a generation our food plates have not all been filled with imports of products we know can easily be produced here at home. The revolution in agriculture is already a reality in all corners of the country. New agreements with Morocco, Russia and others will help us access on attractive terms the inputs we need to accelerate the transformation in farming that is taking place.

A good example of commitment to this inclusive growth is the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the creation of the National Action Committee to oversee its implementation and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to allow us to fully capitalise on regional and continental markets.
The joint land border security exercise currently taking place is meant to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and security. No one can doubt that we have been good neighbours and good citizens. We have been the helpers and shock-absorbers of the sub-region but we cannot allow our well-planned economic regeneration plans to be sabotaged. As soon as we are satisfied that the safeguards are adequate, normal cross-border movements will be resumed.

Already, we are making key infrastructure investments to enhance our ease of doing business. On transportation, we are making significant progress on key roads such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja – Kano highway. 2020 will also see tangible progress on the Lagos to Kano Rail line. Through Executive Order 007, we are also using alternative funding programmes in collaboration with private sector partners to fix strategic roads such as the Apapa-Oworonshoki Express way. Abuja and Port Harcourt have new international airport terminals, as will Kano and Lagos in 2020. When completed, all these projects will positively impact business operations in the country. These projects are not small and do not come without some temporary disruption; we are doing now what should have been done a long time ago. I thank you for your patience and look forward to the dividends that we and future generations will long enjoy.

Power has been a problem for a generation. We know we need to pick up the pace of progress. We have solutions to help separate parts of the value chain to work better together. In the past few months, we have engaged extensively with stakeholders to develop a series of comprehensive solutions to improve the reliability and availability of electricity across the country. These solutions include ensuring fiscal sustainability for the sector, increasing both government and private sector investments in the power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions maximise service delivery.

We have in place a new deal with Siemens, supported by the German government after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited us in Abuja, to invest in new capacity for generation, transmission and distribution. These projects will be under close scrutiny and transparency – there will be no more extravagant claims that end only in waste, theft and mismanagement.

The next 12 months will witness the gradual implementation of these actions, after which Nigerians can expect to see significant improvement in electricity service supply reliability and delivery. Separately, we have plans to increase domestic gas consumption. In the first quarter of 2020, we will commence work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.

While we look to create new opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and other long neglected sectors, in 2020 we will also realise increased value from oil and gas, delivering a more competitive, attractive and profitable industry, operating on commercial principles and free from political interference. Just last week, we were able to approve a fair framework for the USD10 billion expansion of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, which will increase exports by 35 percent, restore our position as a world leader in the sector and create thousands of jobs. The Amendment of the Deep Offshore Act in October signalled our intention to create a modern, forward-looking industry in Nigeria. I am confident that in 2020 we will be able to present a radical programme of reform for oil and gas that will excite investors, improve governance and strengthen protections for host communities and the environment.

We can expect the pace of change in technology only to accelerate in the decade ahead. Coupled with our young and vibrant population, this offers huge opportunities if we are able to harness the most productive trends and tame some of the wilder elements. This is a delicate balance with which many countries are struggling. We are seeking an informed and mature debate that reflects our rights and responsibilities as citizens in shaping the boundaries of how best to allow technology to benefit Nigeria.

During my Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2019, I promised to lay the enduring foundations for taking a hundred million Nigerians out of mass poverty over the next 10 years. Today I restate that commitment. We shall continue reforms in education, health care and water sanitation. I have met international partners such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who support our social welfare programmes. I will continue to work with State and Local Governments to make sure that these partnerships deliver as they should. Workers will have a living wage and pensioners will be looked after. We are steadily clearing pensions and benefits arrears neglected for so long.
The new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will consolidate and build on the social intervention schemes and will enhance the checks and balances necessary for this set of programmes to succeed for the long term.

I am able to report that the journey has already begun with the passage and signing into law of the 2020 Appropriation Act. As the new decade dawns, we are ready to hit the ground running. Let me pay tribute to the Ninth National Assembly who worked uncommonly long hours to make sure that the 2020 budget scrutiny is both thorough and timely. The close harmony between the Executive and Legislature is a sharp contrast to what we have experienced in the recent past, when the Senate kept the previous budget for 7 months without good reason just to score cheap political points thereby disrupting the budgetary processes and overall economic development plans.

Our policies are working and the results will continue to show themselves more clearly by the day. Nigeria is the most tremendous, can-do market, offering extraordinary opportunities and returns. Investors can look forward with confidence not only to an increasing momentum of change but also to specific incentives, including our new visa-on-arrival policy.

They can also be certain of our unshakeable commitment to tackle corruption. As we create an environment that allows initiative, enterprise and hard work to thrive, it is more important than ever to call out those who find the rule of law an inconvenience, or independent regulation an irritation. We are doing our part here in Nigeria. We will continue to press our partners abroad to help with the supply side of corruption and have received some encouragement. We expect more funds stolen in the past to be returned to us and they will be ploughed back into development with all due transparency.

This is a joint initiative. Where our policies have worked best, it has been because of the support of ordinary Nigerians in their millions, numbers that even the most powerful of special interests cannot defy. I thank you for your support. Transition by its very nature carries with it change and some uncertainty along the way. I encourage you to be tolerant, law abiding and peace loving. This is a new year and the beginning of a new decade – the Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa.

To recapitulate, some of the projects Nigerians should expect to come upstream from 2020 include:

47 road projects scheduled for completion in 2020/21, including roads leading to ports;
Major bridges including substantial work on the Second Niger Bridge;
Completion of 13 housing estates under the National Housing Project Plan;
Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and Enugu international airports to be commissioned in 2020;
Launching of an agricultural rural mechanisation scheme that will cover 700 local governments over a period of three years;
Launching of the Livestock Development Project Grazing Model in Gombe State where 200,000 hectares of land has been identified;
Training of 50,000 workers to complement the country’s 7,000 extension workers;
Commissioning of the Lagos – Ibadan and Itakpe – Warri rail lines in the first quarter;
Commencement of the Ibadan – Abuja and Kano – Kaduna rail lines also in the first quarter;
Further liberalisation of the power sector to allow businesses to generate and sell power;
Commencement of the construction of the Mambilla Power project by the first half of 2020; and
Commencement of the construction of the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos pipeline in the first quarter of 2020.

Thank you very much!

President Muhammadu Buhari
State House,
Abuja.
1st January, 2020

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RE: Humanitarian Affairs Minister Refuses To Approve School Feeding Program Payment For Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue States

Our attention has been drawn to an Exclusive Story by Sahara Reporters written on the 25th of December, 2019 on the alleged Failure of; The Hon. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to approve payments for school feeding in some states and Npower Stipends for October/November 2019.

It is pertinent to note that the story is unwarranted or unfounded

The Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiyya Farouq, assumed office, she had gone about handling the transition of the affairs of the Social Investment Programmes from the Presidency to the new Ministry, with the support of the programme administrators and the Cluster Heads.

During this period, she has had to receive briefings from the NSIO and the different clusters concerning the implementation and status of the programmes, successes and challenges. Where she needs additional information, she has sought further clarification in a bit to ensure that the implementation process fulfills the intended mandates of the SIPs.

It should be noted that the former accounting Ministry, which is the ministry of Budget and National Planning has to put on hold all processes of payments after the presidential instruction of the movement of the SIP. Hence, the need for new procedures and policy guidelines inline with the public service rules needs to be set up in the new ministry unfortunately, these briefings delayed payments.

However the issues and briefings on procedures has been resolved and payment had continued unhindered.

Regarding the delay in the stipends of N-Power volunteers for two months (October and November), the Hounourable Minister, in a Press Conference on the 2nd of December 2019 explained the reason behind the delay, and also pledged that beneficiaries would receive their backlog payments on or before December 20th, 2019. This was done.

These actions clearly indicate that, contrary to what some media houses are putting out, the Honourable Minister is not acting in any inimical manner toward the Programme. She has cleared all request that have to do with payments of vendors and stipends that has reached her table.

The Honorable Minister and the National Social Investments Programme are focused towards using the SIPs as an impactful tool towards actualizing the President’s mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

Signed:
Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed
SSA-P
Social Investments Programme

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