James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, has said the federal government is currently working through the National Economic Council in collaboration with state governments to streamline the multiple taxes paid by businesses particularly the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
He also said the implementation of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) had resumed since 2018, after the programme was suspended at the inception of the current administration adding that the scheme had now been streamlined to avoid abuse and irregularities which marred it in the past.
Addressing journalists over the weekend about the strides made by ministry in transforming the business environment in the past four years, the minister also said efforts were ongoing to make the Kano and Calabar Free Trade Zone operational.
He said though the Kano free trade zone had been underutilised, the ministry has, “taken several steps to make it better and the result will soon start showing.”
He added: “One is to upgrade the infrastructure because it has dilapidated and that upgrade has been going on for the last two years.
“We have reached an agreement that we are basically going to work with private operators both for Kano and Calabar and we are going through a process involving working with the Bureau of Public Enterprises to identify the right operators to partner with us to commercialise and provide the services including marketing services to bring in those who want to operate.
“We are showcasing these zones to investors who are coming in. The efforts of this government and ministry will bear long range enduring results because I know we are now solving the problems fundamentally and you will agree with me this is the right way to solving the problem.”
The minister said the ministry had improved the operational environment for businesses in the country and supported the growth of SMEs as well as contributed significantly in the attraction of more foreign investment into the country in the last four years.
He said while the removal of bottlenecks had enhanced a reduction of challenges encountered by SMEs and other businesses in areas such as starting a business; access to credit; paying taxes; enforcing contracts or trading within and across borders among others, investor interest in the country had also increased.
He, reiterated his promise on resumption of duty that the vision for the ministry would be for it to be seen as a ministry of enabling environment.
To this end, he said through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the Ministry had made remarkable achievements, which included the jump in the World Bank’s ranking on the Ease of Doing Business; and the removal of several bottlenecks in government processes.
He added that efforts were ongoing to further improve on the achievements towards ensuring a more business-friendly environment and to achieve a sub-100 ranking of the World Bank on Ease of Doing Business.
He added that the ministry had aggressively been implementing the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and the establishment of the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council is yielding results.
He noted that the council had made many high-level interventions to address industrial sector issues such as electricity supply, broadband penetration and access roads.
NESG Set to Unveil ‘Better Tax’ Initiative
The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) is set to unveil the findings of its nationwide survey on tax perception and drive government-citizen engagement for sustainable fiscal reforms through the launch of its Better Tax initiative.
Better Tax, scheduled for launch in Lagos this Wednesday, is a product of the NESG’s Fiscal Policy Roundtable’s commitment to building a globally competitive Nigerian economy through fiscal consolidation that impacts the citizenry and drives holistic national development.
According to the Chairman, NESG Fiscal Policy Roundtable, Dr. Sarah Alade, “Project Better Tax is distinct from previous tax reform initiatives because it adopts a multi-pronged approach to easing the tax burden.
“The project leverages the findings of nationwide surveys to cascade information on Nigeria’s current fiscal position in a concise manner designed to educate stakeholders on the role of taxation, and the dual responsibility of citizens and the government to actualise the social contract envisaged through strict tax compliance and fiscal responsibility as obtains in developed economies.”
The initiative seeks to create a platform for discourse between government and the citizenry that would reshape tax perception. It is expected to transform tax from being perceived as a burden to a tool for socio-economic development.
Experts have long advocated a refocus on the non-oil sector of the Nigerian economy following the 2014 crash in global oil prices.
Reinforcing this argument, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairman Babatunde Fowler, had disclosed that the non-oil sector outpaced the oil sector with a 54 per cent contribution to the N5.32 trillion revenue generated in 2018.
Aligned with this development, government has set a policy priority to significantly boost the share of non-oil revenue by 2020.
But the NESG/BMGE Advocacy and Communications Consultants, Izin Akioya, noted that Nigeria’s low tax compliance levels thwart the realisation of the revenue mobilisation objective.
In 2018, FIRS disclosed that about 6,772 billionaire businesses in Nigeria do not pay tax, adding that this category of organisations have between N1billion and N5 billion turnover in their accounts, but had no Tax Identification Number (TIN).
“A whopping 57 million Nigerians are economically active, but the vast majority are not registered to pay Personal Income Tax.
“Better Tax sets a radically different tax reform agenda for Nigeria that is impactful and proffers evidence-based solutions to address the twin-problem of low tax morale and compliance that Nigeria continues to grapple with.
“The research component of ‘Better Tax’ is holistic and cuts across the six geopolitical zones. It includes all stakeholders across the tax revenue value chain such as the government, taxpayers and tax officials.
“The overarching objective of the project is to drive mutual collaboration and action among all stakeholders which will, in turn, see Nigeria transform its tax strategy and grow its revenue significantly in record time,” Akioya explained during an interactive session with journalists in Lagos.
Experts expected at the event include Alade and Co-Chair, NESG Fiscal Policy Roundtable Dr. Doyin Salami.
FG Inaugurates Mobile Data Working Group
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications, Mr. Musa Istifanus has inaugurated the National Technical Working Group on Mobile Big Data Analytics.
The inauguration was in line with the National Council on Communications Technology 2017 approval for the development and use of mobile position data for statistics and decision-making by the public and private sector.
Istifanus, who performed the inauguration on behalf of the federal government at the federal secretariat in Abuja recently, pointed out that the National Mobile Big Data Analytics program would promote innovation and modernisation of national statistical systems, promote the use of data and analytics by government agencies and increase opportunities for a new data science service and jobs for Nigeria youth.
According to him, “The data deluge resulting in human activities, Internet of Things (IoT) can be transformed into actionable data that is capable of improving the quality of lives and conditions of society as a whole.”
Istifanus, said there were other data sources such as scanner data, social media data, and satellite imagery that were proven to have a high capacity to enhance the quality of decision making across many sectors to further enhance social and economic indicators as well as accelerate the attainment of Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
The Permanent Secretary stated that federal government would continue to work through the Ministry of Communications to exploit new opportunities from big data by identifying new data sources available in the Nigeria environment and validating new methods for their use by statistical organisations and other stakeholders.
In his presentation, the Programme Consultant, Mr. Bernard Ewah stated that the essence of the mobile big data analytics was to build a data economy.
He added that mobile big data analytics would be achieved by using Keoun Data Processing Technology to produce new statistics for the government and other agencies.
According to him, the National Working Group had been sub-grouped into four namely: Policy and Regulations; Capacity Building and Sensitisation; Data Applicability Infrastructure; and Commercial Models.
Ewah, said Abuja would be used for the pilot phase, noting that Nigeria, with a very high population, needs to generate data to boost efficiency and development.