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Buhari govt insists on VAT increment, gives reason

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Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.

She said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.

Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.

Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.

“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance”, NAN quoted her as saying.

“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.

“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”

According to her, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.

Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.

The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.

Estimates for non-oil revenue consisted of N799.52 billion from CIT, N229.34 billion from VAT and Customs Duties of N302.55 billion.

The 2019 budget was predicated on oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day at 60 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.

On the issue of border closure, she said only the main borders that were manned by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other security operatives were closed.

She added that the nation had seen the benefits of the closure and that though there were some challenges, the NCS and the committee working on the borders closure was looking at how to ease some of the difficulties.

“It has to be Nigeria first and we have to protect our own industries because some of our neighbours have been flagrantly abusing commitments that we jointly signed to and the President has said this is no longer acceptable.

“The border closure is not forever, there will be an end date, the Federal Government is currently in discussion with governments of our neighbouring countries Niger and Benin Republic.

“We are negotiating to make sure that the challenges that led to the closure of the borders are addressed on both sides but, especially that our neighbors meet the commitments that we signed unto several years ago.

“Once those discussions are concluded, the borders will be opened again,” she said.

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El-Rufai backs border closure, says ‘some countries closed their borders for centuries, decades’

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Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has backed Federal Government’s closure of land borders.

According to him, it is unfair for smaller countries to be sabotaging a big country like Nigeria.

El-Rufai who was a special guest at the graduation of Senior Course Three of the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja on Friday said the step taken was commendable.

He explained that Nigeria like any other country like to trade with other countries but added that there must be fairness.

The governor noted that closure of the borders should be sustained until there were established deals that covered every country.

“The partial closure of borders is highly commendable. Nigeria is the largest country in West Africa and the continent and it is clear that our neighbours are using our openness and brotherhood to trade, to exploit us.

“I fully support and subscribe to the closure of borders and we should sustain it for as long as possible.

“We need to do this for our country to have a fair deal and for our manufacturers to be protected.

“All those talking about free trade or preaching about it today closed their borders for centuries and decades ago.

“Nigeria must grow its own internal capacity, we will not do so if we allow our neighbours to use the porosity of our borders to sabotage our economy,’’ he explained.

El-Rufai, however, commended the physical development at the Customs Command College in Gwagwalada.

He lauded the effort of the current Customs boss for his reform agenda.

“I am impressed with what I have seen on ground in terms of physical development as well as the content”.

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Boroffice, Abaribe disagree as Senate urges FG to ban importation of textiles for five years

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The Senate, on Tuesday, appealed to the Federal Government to ban importation of textiles in the country for a period of five years to allow for the production of local textile materials.

This followed the debate on a motion sponsored by Senator Kabir Barkiya (APC-Katsina Central) during plenary on “Urgent need to revamp the nation’s comatose textile industry”.

The upper chamber also appealed to the Federal Government to provide the necessary infrastructural facilities especially power supply to local textile manufacturing companies to revamp the industry.

It also called on the government to encourage local textile manufacturing companies by providing them with soft loans and easy access to credit facilities through the Bank of Industry.

Debating the motion, Barkiya noted that the textile industry in the country played a significant role in the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy with a record of over 140 companies in the 1960s and 1970s.
“The textile industry recorded an annual growth of 67 per cent and as at 1991, employed above 25 per cent of the workers in the manufacturing sector.

“The textile industry was then the highest employer of labour apart from the civil service.” He noted that the industry had witnessed massive decline in the last two decades with many textile companies such as Kaduna Textile, Kano Textile and Aba Textile among others closing shops and throwing their workers into the job market.

The lawmaker further said that government policies like increase in taxation, high cost of production, trade liberalisation resulting in massive importation of textile materials had negatively affected the production of local textile materials. Barkiya said that the resuscitation of the industry would provide additional revenue and assist government to diversify the nation’s economy.

Contributing, Sen. Robert Boroffice (APC-Ondo North) said that the importation of textile materials was as as a result of the comatose level of the textile industry.

“The closure of our borders is an eye opener. China closed its borders for 40 years for its industrialisation and development.
“I believe that the closure our borders should be extended to allow us put our house in order.” Boroffice, who is the Deputy Senate Leader, said that the extension of the closure of the borders would serve as an opportunity to resuscitate the textile industry among other industries that had been characterised by smuggling.

Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia South), who disagreed with Boroffice on the fact that the closure of the borders would help revamp the industry said that “closing the borders and doing nothing will not lead to increase in production of textiles.

“The real problems have been indicated; first, is the fact that we are unable to produce the cotton that we need.

“But far more important is the fact of power. Power was the key problem that made most of the textile mills closed.
” Once it became very difficult after 1982 for industries to be supplied with power and they needed to switch over to now produce their own power in order to do production, it became a lose, lose situation for most of the industrialists.”

Abaribe who is Senate Minority Leader, called on the Federal Government to do the fundamental to ensure that the smuggling of textile products was done away with.

Similarly, Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North-east) said that without power, no meaningful profit would be realised in any manufacturing industry in the country.

Suswam who called on the government to address the issue in the power sector said that if this was done, the manufacturers would be able to make profit.

“If we take concrete actions on these issues, our economy will be enhanced, the welfare of the people will be enhanced, insecurity and by extension, criminality, will be reduced,” he said.

In his remark, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said that as Nigeria had signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, “we have to be prepared for the repercussions.

“We cannot stop trading easily with other people. We have to up our game; we need to be competitive,” Lawan said.

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Governor Bagudu Commends Dangote Group as firm begins installation of rice factory in Kebbi

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Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi on Sunday commended Dangote Group for setting up a rice mill in the state, saying it would create employment and boost the economy.

Bagudu who visited the factory site at Saminaka in Shanga Local Government Area of the state, said the investment would also rack up the rice value chain and add value to local farmers, City News reports.

The governor’s visit was announced in a statement on Sunday in Birnin Kebbi by his Press Secretary, Abubakar Dakingari.

Facilities for the factory, which will have 32 silos are being installed as at the time of the visit by Bagudu, who was accompanied by legislators and top government officials.

“I must commend Dangote Group of Companies especially Alhaji Aliko Dangote for initiating the project in Kebbi State.

“This will go a long way in providing employment to our youth as well as boosting the economy of the state and Nigeria at large “, he said.Bagudu used the opportunity to invite more investors to Kebbi to set up more factories.

Similarly, the governor made a stop over at a local rice mill in Yauri where he interacted with some women processing local rice.

The women told the governor that the price of rice has fallen which according to them was an indication that Federal Government’s rice initiative is working.

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