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Senate Passes Finance Bill 2020

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The Senate has passed the Finance Bill 2020. The entire process of the passage of the legislation was done in two weeks.

The bill seeks to amend 12 Acts which include the Capital Gains Tax Act; Companies Income Tax Act (CITA); Personal Income Tax Act; Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment) Act; Customs and Excise Tariff, etc (Consolidated) Act and the Value Added Tax.

Others are the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act; Nigeria Export Processing Zone Act; Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act; Fiscal Responsibility Act; Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020; and the Public Procurement Act.

The bill was transmitted to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari in November who said its passage would support the implementation of the 2021 budget through key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal and other laws.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Joint Committee on Finance; Customs, Excise & Tariff; Trade and Investment; and Public Procurement – having held a public hearing for stakeholders to make inputs.

The Chairman of the joint committee, Adeola Olamilekan, who presented the report, said the Finance Bill will adopt appropriate counter-cyclical fiscal policies to respond to the economic and revenue challenges precipitated by the decline in international oil prices, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy.

It will also reform extant fiscal policies to prioritise job creation, economic growth, socio-economic development, domestic revenue mobilization, to foster closer coordination with Monetary and Trade Policies; and provide fiscal relief for taxpayers by reducing the applicable minimum tax rate for two consecutive years of assessment, as well as reforming the commencement and cessation rules for small businesses, he said.

The legislation, he said, will also propose measures to fund the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response and introduce provisions to enhance the recovery of corporate donations towards responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as any similar crisis in the future, amend certain aspects of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and enhance fiscal efficiencies by controlling the cost-to-cost revenue ratios of key state and Government-owned Enterprises.

Recommendations

Mr Adeola read out numerous recommendations by the panel. Some of these are: the inclusion of free duty and levy for commercial airline operators in line with presidential waivers and approval already granted by the President in the Customs and Excise Tariff Act (CETA).

For Capital Gain Tax, it recommended that returns should be filed per year on the 30th of June and 31st December of every tax year. It also said deductions provided for in the Company Income Tax should, among others, be based on the actual cost of the in-kind donation instead of the value which may be different from what the donor actually incurred.

“The Committee recommends that Section 25(9) of CITA proposed be reduced from 25 per cent to 15 per cent of assessable profits to reduce the amount of deductions available for voluntary donations made to State or Local Government. And penalty or fine to be disallowed should be restricted to those imposed by legislation enacted by the National Assembly or States Houses of Assembly with the aim of removing the restriction that will be occasioned by the proposal in the Bill with the aim of ease of doing business.”

For Industrial Development Income Tax Relief (IDITRA), the panel said deduction in the Tax Relief periods from initial five years to four years and additional three years to two years as this will enable the government to start taxing the relevant organisation after a total period of 6 years of tax holiday.

For Value Added Tax (VAT), the committee said goods and services exempted should include commercial aircraft, engine, spare part, airline transportation ticket, hire rental on lease of tractors plough and other agricultural equipment or implements should be included as parts of goods and services exempted from VAT.

For Stamp Duty, the panel recommended that “the Minister in charge of finance subjects to the approval of the National Assembly shall make regulation for the imposition, administration, collection and remittance of the electronic levy. And the sharing formula of the electronic levy between States and Federal Government with States Government taking 85% and Federal Government being the collecting agent on behalf of the States collects 15 per cent.”

While for Unclaimed Fund Trust Fund, the Committee recommended among others that, “The Debt Management Office shall – maintain a reliable database of all unclaimed dividends and dormant bank balances constituting the debt owed by the Trust Fund which shall be verified and reconciled with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Central Bank of Nigeria on a bi-annual basis.

“Liaise with the relevant Registrars of Companies, deposit money banks or the National Deposit Insurance Corporation, as the case may be, to make adequate arrangements for the repayment of the verified interest and capital obligations due to the relevant shareholders, depositors or their legal beneficiaries, as the case may be.

“Prepare and implement a plan for the efficient management of the obligations of the Trust Fund, which plan shall include setting guidelines, modalities and other arrangements, which may include an annual sinking fund, for the servicing of the interest and capital obligations of the Trust Fund.”

The bill was passed after it was considered in the Committee of the Whole. It will be transmitted to the president for assent.

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Protests Erupt in Jos Over Sexual Abuse of Underage Girls by Lebanese

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Tension was high yesterday at the Abattoir community, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State as residents, mostly women and young girls protested the alleged sexual molestation of about 14 young girls in the area by a Lebanese.

The alleged molestation, the protesters claim, has been ongoing for years without anything being done but when the man was eventually arrested and handed over to the Police, he was said to have been released from the Police station hence the protest.

It was gathered that the Lebanese was arrested and handed over to the Police on Thursday after the parents of two of the minors in the community reported that their children were sexually molested.

Apart from the two girls, 12 more girls also confessed that they were also at different times molested by the suspect whom they said did unprintable things to them.

The protesters called for justice to be served and appealed to Government, NGOs, and Civic Society Organizations to intervene so that the issue is not swept under the carpet like previous ones.

One of the protesters, Abigail Haruna said, “This thing has been going on for almost 20 years. I grew up in Abattoir here and I have been hearing about it. This time around, about 14 girls between the ages of 10 to 11 are involved. A Lebanese man in Abattoir here used to sexually molest the girls, one that is 11 is pregnant. This should not be allowed to fester.”

Another protester, Esther Emmanuel added, “Since when I was little, I heard about this man that he uses little girls to do blue film but we never took any action but thank God this case came up yesterday (Thursday). Parents of the girls went to the Police station to report.

“It is really annoying that this thing has been happening but we never did anything about it. None of these girls are up to 15 years. Two of the girls are pregnant, one has HIV, this is annoying. The problem is that when it happens, you will not hear anything again, the issue will just die off like that.

“The parents are left with their children, they will be asked to go and take care of their children and will even be blamed for refusing to talk to their children. If we go to their country, will they allow that? We want justice to be served. The man was arrested but now what we hear is that he has been released.”

But the State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Gabriel Uba when contacted said “The Police is aware of the situation and investigation is ongoing to ascertain the true state of the matter.

“Nobody is happy to hear such a devilish act, investigation is ongoing. Nobody released the man, if they don’t get vital information, they will do things out of ignorance. The matter has been transferred to the State CID, the man has not been released.”

(Vanguard)

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We can’t raise N160m, parents of abducted Greenfield university students, staff cry out

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Photo source: Channels Television

Parents of the remaining 16 kidnapped students and three staff of Greenfield University, Kaduna on Friday gathered to pray for the safe release of their children.

This was even as they appealed to the Federal Government to urgently assist them in rescuing their children from the bandits.

According to them, the bandits are demanding N160 million cumulative ransom for them to release the remaining 16 students.

“We are worried about their safety. The innocent students had spent 24 days in the kidnappers’ den.

To this end, speaking on behalf of the parents, the Chairman of the parents’ forum, Marcus Zarmai, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to use his office to secure the release of the students before something sinister happens to them.

According to him, the kidnappers are demanding a sum of N10 million on each of the 16 students, making N160 million.

“Even after, we the parents have collectively paid them over N60 million ransom for the release of our children and they failed to release them.

Zarmai said, having exhausted all the money they have to pay as ransom, “We, the parents are appealing to the Federal Government to assist us to pay the ransom demanded or find any other way to ensure the safe return of our children.”

Recall, the man behind the abducted students had three weeks ago threatened to kill the 16 students if the ransom is not paid.

However, Sheikh Ahmed Gummi had come out to say they have reached out to the bandits and they have agreed not to kill the remaining students.

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Former Defence Chief Joshua Dogonyaro is Dead

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General Dogonyaro died in Jos on Wednesday at the age of 80.

Dogonyaro, a retired lieutenant general, died at the age of 80 on Wednesday.

The first son of the deceased, Joseph Dogonyaro, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview in Pankshin, on Thursday.

“Daddy has been sick for some time until yesterday when he had a stroke and we rushed him to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for medical attention.

“Unfortunately, early this morning (Thursday), around 3.00 a.m. precisely, he breathed his last.

“His death comes as a rude shock to us as a family. We are going to miss his love and warmth as a grandfather, father, brother, uncle and supporter,” he said.

Joseph said the family was trying to cope with the shock of the general’s demise and would discuss the funeral arrangements soon.

He described his father as “a General who was so faithful and loyal to the nation, Nigeria.”

“He was a general who had no bias mind as a detribalised Nigerian. He served this nation faithful and identified with all Nigerians and Africa as a continent.

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