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Fuel price: Equating Saudi Arabia with Nigeria is not an aberration, says Lai Muhammed 

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Fuel price: Equating Saudi Arabia with Nigeria is not an aberration, says Lai Muhammed

That President Muhammadu Buhari recieved the most fierce bashing of his life for attempting to justify the recent pump price hike for Premium motor spirit by making comparidon with prices in other climes especially Saudi Arabia did not go down well with his administration.
Many Nigerians had criticised the president for making such comparison without considering the minimum wage, standard of living and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia in particular.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was on hand to justify the statement in his 2020 Independence Day national broadcast.
He tried to explain away the illogical comparison when he featured on a Radio Nigeria current affairs programme, “Radio Link’’ on Saturday in Abuja.

President Buhari had said in his Independence Day broadcast that: “we sell petrol at N161 per litre when same is sold at N168 per litre in Saudi Arabia; N211 per litre in Egypt; N362 per litre in Ghana; N362 per litre in Chad, and N346 per litre in Niger Republic.

“It does not make sense for petrol to be cheaper in Nigeria than Saudi Arabia,’’

Taking on the critics, the minister said there was nothing wrong in making such comparison.
“Some people have said that why should we compare ourselves to Saudi Arabia with better infrastructure and higher wages.
“Our answer to that is very simple. Saudi Arabia has 34 million people while Nigeria has 200 million people.
“Saudi Arabia produces 10 million barrels of crude oil per day, while Nigeria produces at its best, 2.1 million barrel per day.
“Their population is about one-sixth of Nigeria’s population and they are blessed with more resources.
“Therefore, they can afford to pay higher wages and build infrastructure.
“Our argument must be put in proper perspective.
“As we have said, whatever money we make from the subsidy removal, we will invest in infrastructure development’’ he said.
The minister commended organised labour for its understanding and patriotism in suspending its planned strike to protest the fuel price deregulation and the electricity tariff adjustment.
He noted that the suspension of the strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their affiliates, averted a “national calamity’’.
Alhaji Mohammed said after spending sleepless nights engaging with organised labour, the two congresses agreed with government that the fuel deregulation was inevitable
“The moment we lost as much as 60 per cent of our earnings and suffered a kind of shock in crude oil prices, we must deregulate.
“Between 2006 and 2019 we paid N10.413 trillion in fuel subsidies; an average of N743.8 billion per annum,’’ he lamented.
“The country right now cannot afford the subsidy regime,’’ the minister stressed.
He said government agreed with labour that it would facilitate the setting up of many modular refineries and rehabilitate existing regular refineries to cushion the effect of the deregulation.
He said the Ministry of Petroleum Resources would intensify efforts to ensure that Nigerians could get alternatives such as gas to power their vehicles and machinery.
Alhaji Mohammed said that the first auto gas station would be inaugurated and opened to public next week in Lagos.
On electricity tariff adjustment, the minister explained that government agreed with labour to establish a joint committee to investigate and confirm that the price increase did not affect vulnerable Nigerians.
He said the committee would specifically ascertain and ensure that the price increase did not affect Nigerians who get less than 12 hours of electricity per day.
Alhaji Mohammed said government would provide five million households with solar power in the next 12 months.
He said the solar energy programme would benefit at least 25 million people and would create about 250,000 jobs.
The minister said government was also working toward providing other palliatives to cushion the effect of the tariff adjustment and fuel price deregulation.

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Economy

Crash in global crude necessitates passage of PIB says Sylva

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Crash in global crude necessitates passage of PIB says Sylva

**it will bring Nation back to reality- Kyari

The minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva has indicated that the volatility of global crude prices which crashed into negativity at the height of covid 19, has underscored the urgency that necessiates the passing of the PIB.
Speaking at the Public hearing for the Petroleum Induatry Bill (PIB) 2020 the minister said it will go a long way to overhauling the legal and regulatory framework of the Nigerian petroleum industry and clarifies the rules of engagement for the monetisation of the country’s valuable hydrocarbon resources.
He said the proliferation of the country’s funding hydrocarbons that make it seem available for exploitation have also impacted on demand for crude as well as the revenue and profits accruable.
He said the necessity for reform of the Nigeria petroleum industry to make it conform to the current realities to proper position it for the challenges of the future has made it imperative for the effort to pass the bill to be sustained and finalised.
“This day has been anticipated for a very long time given the checkered history of the various attempt to pass the bill and has been made possible by the effort of the different stakeholders within the executive and legislature who have worked with patriotic and selfless zeal to make thi happen.
“I want to place on record, my gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his immense support and guidance which culminated into transmission of the PIB to the National Assembly on Sept. 28, 2020.
“This bill was tabled before the 9th assembly on the 30th September and since then, the distinguished lawmakers have worked assiduously on it and this has accounted for the good purpose that had brought us to this public hearing.
“Distinguished senators have also promised to consider and pass the bill into law expeditiously and I want to place on record the  sincere gratitude of the federal government and the good people of Nigeria who will benefit from the passing of the PIB by the senators.”
He said the world had changed significantly since the first effort of reform was made in the year 2000 to pass the PIB.
“The Nigerian petroleum industry faces  challenges arising not from the domestic environment but from the wider international environment,
“Apart from the current covid 19 crises which has cost the strongest recession experienced globally since 2019, the industry faces other critical challenges.
According to him,  several nations have announced the intent to comply with the Paris agreement of 2016 and have adopted climate change policies.
The Group managing director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mele Kyari on his part said the industry does not tolerate uncertainties, adding that when the journey to PIB started in the year 2000, through the oil and  gas reform committee, it was the beginning of the interruption of uncertainties in the industry.
“Since 2000 until this moment, that the industry has not seen significant investment except one particular area, production sharing which we still  have challenges because of  the fiscal uncertainties.
“This industry refused to develop from 2000 till today, we haven’t seen significant development in this industry since 2000 and the reason is very clear.
“The three attempts to make this legislation work that has not succeed but every time you have such situation you have uncertainties.
“We will not find other investors coming as long as we remain a very high cost environment, a very uncertain fiscal environment and with other associated issues that come with it.”
He said, passing the PIB is a necessity so that the Market in Nigeria can become more competitive, compared to where it was 20 years ago.
“PIB is to bring us back to reality that reality is to take advantage of the resources that we have today to enable us develop the midstream which is what is lacking today.”
“It will enable  that we have the possessive facilities and also focusing more on gas development so that this country can make progress.”

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Post COVID-19: FG explores indirect tax, ICT to shore up revenue says Finance minister

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Post COVID-19: FG explores indirect tax, ICT to shore up revenue says Finance minister

The minister of finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed has reiterated the Federal Governments determination to explore all possible avenues including indirect taxation such as ICT driven tax to shore up the country’s revenue.
She spoke when the chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) Abuja and District Society visited on sensitization to mark the tax week.

The minister who spoke through a director in the ministry Fatima Hayatu said because of the experience during the COVID-19 lockdown the tax drive is being redirected to ICT.
“We have all seen from the COVID-19, we were all in Lock down,  but we were using our phones and technology, that is why we are now going to ICT driven tax and we are going to be taxing more of the digital technology.
She said Post COVID-19 indirect taxation is where most of the taxes will be coming from.
“The theme; ‘Tax, Politics and social contract’ is very apt in the present situation, Nigeria needs all the taxes more than before, as a ministry we will give the CITN all the support it needs to carryout it’s basic duties.
Chairman of FCT Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Alhaji Abdullahi Attah said considering the fact that the country is now seriously looking for money and oil is dwindling the next option is taxation.
Speaking through Director Human Resources in FCT IRS Muhammad Jada, he said there is every need to take taxation seriously and ensure that the trust reposed in them is not be betrayed
“It is an important organization and an important week where the trust and the integrity is the key.”

The chairman CITN Abuja district Dr Nwabuzor M. Emeke said they are organising the annual tax week as a week they lay emphasis on tax advocacy and sensitisation.
“This year we have chosen the topic that has to do with tax, politics and Social Contract
What are we trying to say, we are looking at it from two perspectives, and equally encouraging Government to fulfil their own end of the bargain so that when Nigerians see what the Government is doing with the proceeds from tax they would be encouraged to pay taxes.
He said in so doing they CITN Abuja district is organizing a seminar Tuesday at Merit House, where about four eminent professors will speak on issues about taxation. “The issue of tax cannot be over emphasised because we all know what Nigeria is going through in terms of the dwindling oil revenues, so the Government is deploying more efforts on tax issues and that is on your shoulder as FIRS and we as CITN that regulate tax in Nigeria is partnering with you to ensure that you achieve your target that is given to you by the Federal Government.

The chairman of FIRS Muhammed Nami said they attach importance to the Relationship between FIRS and CITN as many directors in FIRS are also members of CITN
Represented by the coordinating director digital support group of the Federal inland Revenue Service Dr. Achek Maidugu he said,
“The CITN is part and parcel of the FIRS, most of us are members with the Abuja and district society.
“FIRS holds CITN in high esteem as critical stakeholder we appreciated and we always identify with CITN.”
He said they have been supporting CITN adding that they will continue the partnership.

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Economy

AEC urges African Govts. to invest in home-made products as post COVID-19 strategy

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AEC urges African Govts. to invest in home-made products as post COVID-19 strategy

By Mustapha Sumaila

The African Economic Congress (AEC) has urged African Governments to invest in home-made products as a means of fast-tracking development as post COVID-19 strategy to recover economy.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AEC, Mrs Nancy Nnaji said this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

Nnaji said this suggestion was part of recommendations of various speakers
at the just concluded 2nd Edition of the annual conference held recently by AEC.

The meeting had the theme: “Post COVID-19: Africa in the New Economic Order”.

She said the conference had also recommended that Africans should prioritise research as a tool for sustainable development on the continent.

According to her, Africa is advised to move for self-reliance in the coming years, by harnessing and leveraging its abundant resources both human and materials to drive economic transformation.

She said the meeting noted that agricultural sector was key to Africa’s economic transformation and by developing it, abundant resources could be provided to finance the 2063 African union agenda to curb unemployment, food shortage, malnutrition and extreme poverty.

The founder stated that “Africans are also enjoined to be educated on the technical know-how to improve agriculture on the continent.

“Governments must increase the yearly allocated budget for agriculture and promote private sector engagement to avoid inadequate funding.

“To increase the level of value addition of food exports, there must be an investment in innovation and technology around local processing and infrastructure building.

“There is need for digital literacy skills, critical thinking skills, technical skills, soft skills, entrepreneurial skills, and certification programmes should be incorporated into the learning curriculum in all levels of education to produce self-reliant and employable graduates” she added.

Nnaji also added that the conference advised on the need to improve broadband connectivity to support interactive online learning and teaching. (NAN)

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