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  1. #221
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    AMCON, EFCC to go after banks, officials behind bad loan

    The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have decided to go after banks and their officials that were instrumental to the abuse and violation of internal processes that led to the huge non-performing loans in AMCON’s portfolio.

    AMCON Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, and EFCC’s Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, yesterday in Abuja held a high level meeting with the aim to revisit, reinvestigate and duly prosecute such banks and the responsible officials.

    Since its establishment, AMCON has acquired debts from 22 banks worth N3.7 trillion and provided financial accommodation to 10 banks of about N2.2 trillion.

    He observed that despite AMCON’s recovery efforts, the corporation still held unresolved loans in excess of N4.6 trillion representing about 75% of the total national budget.

    The MD expressed concern that failure on the part of AMCON to resolve the debts would have far-reaching implication for the nation at large.

    Magu said: “most of the obligors may not have acted alone in their unwillingness to repay, but may involve the connivance of some of the bank officials whose motive was to cheat the banks ab-initio.

    “In the appropriate circumstances, these bankers would also be called upon to account for their roles in granting these questionable facilities.”

    It could be recalled that, a total debt obligation of over N4.6 trillion is AMCON by recalcitrant debtors across the country.

    The EFCC Acting Chairman, who welcomed the AMCON boss and his team, described the assignments of both agencies of government as “very tough, overwhelming and challenging.” He noted, however that it was for that reason that EFCC established AMCON Desk with dedicated EFCC officials that ensured that all AMCON related cases in EFCC received speedy attention.

    Magu assured that the AMCON Desk at EFCC would continue to be functional, adding that the EFCC was willing to increase the number of personnel on the desk if so required and to establish a Lagos branch if necessary to make sure the huge loans were recovered in the interest of the Nigerian economy.

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    Bank of Industry disburses N21m to 438 beneficiaries in Bauchi

    The Bank of Industry has disbursed fresh N21million loan to 438 traders in Bauchi State.

    Special Assistant to Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) disclosed this on Sunday after a meeting with officials of the benefiting traders associations.

    The traders were beneficiaries of Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP)
    also known as Market Moni, a Federal Government revolving loan given to small business owners.

    He said that implementation of the programme is in accordance with President Muhammadu Buhari administration‎'s 2017-2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which seeks to sustain economic growth and stabilise domestic production through increased funding to SMEs.

    "Bauchi state remains determined to optimally utilize the allocation of 39,000 beneficiaries granted to it by the Bank of Industry, the BSSIPO is working closely with interested commercial banks, market aggregators and super agents to facilitate the BVN enrollment, registration and on-boarding of interested persons."

    In his remark, one of the leaders, Auwal Shu'aibu advise the beneficiaries to repay the soft loans on time as it will enable others to benefit from the gesture since the money is meant to be a revolving fund.

    Shu'aibu, who is the Secretary of Wunti Market Small Scale Traders Association warned that all avenues will be explored to collect the money back from defaulters.

    On his part, the chairman of Muda Lawal Motorcycles Sellers Association, Muhammadu Jamilu, advised leaders of various traders associations that benefited from the programme to live up to their ‎responsibilities.

    He said that the leaders ‎must ensure the timely payment of the soft loan by their members and urged the beneficiaries to utilise the loan and develop their various business in order to repay back the loan.

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    27 industries to enjoy FG’s tax holiday

    The federal government has announced a list of 27 new industries that qualified for tax holiday after lifting the administrative suspension on processing Pioneer Status Incentives (PSI) applications.

    The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, told journalists yesterday in Abuja that the pioneer status initiative seeks to enhance the survival, profitability and sustainability of beneficiary companies.

    The industries added are: Mining and processing of coal; Processing and preservation of meat/poultry and production of meat/poultry products; Manufacture of starches and starch products; Processing of cocoa; Manufacture of animal feeds; Tanning and dressing of Leather; Manufacture of leather footwear, luggage and handbags; Manufacture of household and personal hygiene paper products.

    Others are: Manufacture of paints, vanishes and printing ink; Manufacture of plastic products (builders’ plastic ware) and moulds; Manufacture of batteries and accumulators; Manufacture of steam generators; Manufacture of railway locomotives, wagons and rolling stock; Manufacture of metal-forming machinery and machine tools; Manufacture of machinery for metallurgy; Manufacture of machinery for food and beverage processing; Manufacture of machinery for textile, apparel and leather production.

    The rest are: Manufacture of machinery for paper and paperboard production; Manufacture of plastics and rubber machinery; Waste treatment, disposal and material recovery; E-commerce services; Software development and publishing; Motion picture, video and television programme production, distribution, exhibition and photography; Music production, publishing and distribution; Real estate investment vehicles under the Investments and Securities Act; Mortgage backed securities under the Investments and Securities Act; and Business process outsourcing.

    Pioneer Status Incentive is a tax holiday which grants qualifying industries and products relief from the payment of corporate income tax for an initial period of three years, extendable for one or two additional years as provided for under the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act, No 22 of 1971 (IDA).

    The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) Ms Yewande Sadiku, said: “The reforms have brought further clarity, predictability and process efficiency to the PSI regime. We will continue the reform process as we plan to take the PSI application process online. We will also engage with relevant stakeholders with a view to updating the existing legislations.”

    The suspension was placed on the processing of PSI applications in September 2015, to allow for a comprehensive review and reform of the incentive regime.

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    Civil service week: Don wants FG to focus on youth development

    A senior lecturer at the Lagos Business School, Adedoyin Salami, has urged the Federal Government to refocus the national budget on providing education, security and other social schemes to forestall crisis by the growing youthful empowerment.

    He gave the advice in Abuja while delivering the annual Public Service Lecture to mark the 2017 civil service week themed, “Entrenching a Citizen-Centered Service Delivery Culture; Partnering with the youth for Africa’s Transformation”.

    “The government must also create opportunities and ensure that people especially the youths, see and utilize the opportunities to be productive. The increasing capacity of violence by the youths can only be ignored at our peril.

    “Whereas over 65 percent of Nigeria youths are said to have some form of formal education, with 55 percent of this demographic subset being female and other being male, so many youths have serious issues of skill and capacity attainment, making them highly susceptible to unemployment, under employment and economic exploitation.

    “Equally, a host of them with certain level of capability have been sucked deep into the informal sector, particularly in low-income engagement and activities, where their exertions are not commensurate to the value being produced, hence many are vulnerable to crimes and different forms of delinquency,” Salami said.

    He also urged civil servants to be purposeful, confidence and competent to be able to deliver their mandates successfully.

    Speaking earlier the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF) Winifred Oyo-Ita urged workers to avail themselves of the opportunities provided by Information Communication Technology (ICT).

    “For the civil service to remain relevant in the fast changing and highly technological modern work environment, it is important that we individually and collectively strive at continuous capacity building to meet the challenges. We are all aware that the application of information technology in the administration of government, particularly in payment and human resources management is becoming the norm. So, we must avail ourselves competencies in ICT without having to wait for support from the service,” she said.

    Chairman of the occasion and former HoCSF, Ebele Okeke, tasked the civil servants on capacity building that would enhance their productivity.

    She also decried lack of payment of salaries, pension, among others of workers by some state governors, saying that this does not encourage effective productivity.

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    Business FG to refinance $3bn local loans with dollar debt


    Nigeria plans to refinance $3 billion worth of maturing naira-denominated short-term treasury bills with dollar borrowing of up to three years’ maturity, to lower costs and improve its debt position as the economy recovers from a recession.

    Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said on Wednesday she was aiming to borrow less in naira and more in foreign currency. She said the government could borrow at a cost of 7 percent overseas, roughly half the interest rate it currently pays locally.

    “As the economy recovers and grows we will be in a much better position to repay instead of just rolling over the debt,” she told reporters after a cabinet meeting where the government approved a spending plan for 2018-2020.

    Dollars have been in short supply in Nigeria since the price of crude oil, the main source of hard currency, plunged in mid-2014, triggering a currency crisis, an exodus of foreign investors and its first recession in 25-years.

    The government expects the economy to recover this year and grow by 2.2 percent. The International Monetary Fund sees just 0.8 percent growth.

    Adeosun said the government was aiming to restructure its debt portfolio into longer term maturities by borrowing more offshore and less at home to lower cost and also support private sector access to credit to boost the economy.

    Adeosun said the government would issue dollar debt as $3 billion worth of naira treasury bills mature. She did not provide a timeframe for this.

    Nigeria expects a shortfall of $7.5 billion for its 2017 budget. It expects to raise around half of that in foreign loans including from the World Bank and from international debt markets.

    “We are not increasing our borrowings. We are simply restructuring. Instead of owing naira, we will be owing dollars,” Adeosun said.

    At the briefing, Udoma Udo Udoma, minister for budget and national planing said the government had approved “a slightly different” growth trajectory of 3.5 percent for next year, down from 4.8 percent it announced last week in its strategy paper.

    Udoma forecast growth would top 4.5 percent by 2019 and 7 percent by 2020, adding that the government was projecting 2.3 million barrels per day crude production for next year at a price of $45 a barrel.

    He said the government was committed to exploring ways of raising additional revenues to lower the debt service burden.
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    Dangote, Kano govt sign 100MW solar power plant pact

    Dangote Group has signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Kano State Government for the proposed 100 megawatts Dangote-Black Rhino Solar Power Plant.

    The formal agreement for the project, which is to be sited at Zakirai, in Gabasawa Local Government Area of the state, took place yesterday, at the office of Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Usman Alhaji, in Kano.

    Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote said the MoU was yet another milestone in the evolving partnership between Dangote Group and Government of Kano State in their determination to bring about the much needed improvement in the economy of the country.

    He described the situation of decadence in the power sector, which resulted in decline of the status of Kano, a once vibrant industrial and commercial city in the past three decades, as sad.

    Represented by the group’s Executive Director, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, Aliko said it was incumbent, and necessary for the benefit of the people of Kano and the entire nation to restore the economy’s vibrancy.

    He decried the power challenges which have continued to militate against industrialisation and economic development in the state, saying “As we all know Kano’s pre-eminent status as a great entrepot and centre of commerce in the Sub-Saharan region for almost two centuries has sadly declined.

    Signing the MoU on behalf of the state government, the SSG, Alhaji Usman Alhaji, indicated that the momentous event showcased the sacrifice of Aliko Dangote, a son of the soil, for the people of the ancient City of Kano, and indeed, the nation in its struggle to move its economy forward.

    He said prior to the signing ceremony, his office had performed another strategic ceremony, the distribution of vehicles to various security agents to enhance security of the state.

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    Air passengers pay more taxes, surcharges than ticket fare

    Passengers flying domestic routes are forced to pay more in taxes and surcharges than the actual cost of the flight ticket, investigations by Daily Trust have revealed.

    An analysis of the cost of tickets of major domestic airlines indicated that on some airlines, passengers paid up to 64 percent of the total cost as surcharges and taxes among others.

    Already, there are outcries over high cost of airlines tickets for passengers flying domestic routes which the operators attributed to too much charges and fees payable to the regulators.

    A breakdown of flight ticket on the domestic routes gives the components of air fare which include the base fare, surcharges, taxes, and service fees, among others. In most cases, the surcharges are higher than the actual fare.

    The airlines operating on the domestic routes include Aero Contractors, Arik Air, Dana Air, Med-View, Air Peace, First Nation, Azman and Overland.

    An analysis of Air Peace return economy ticket from Abuja to Lagos showed that the total cost is N50,164 but only N18,400, equivalent to 36.6 percent of the total cost is charged for the ticket fare, with the remaining N31,764 or 63.4 percent going as either surcharges, taxes or fees.

    In the case of Arik Air, the return economy ticket from same route indicated that out of the total ticket cost of N46,744 only N10,646 or 22.8 percent as airlines ticket fare, the remaining N36,068 or 77 percent is either taxes, fees or surcharges.

    Many passengers who spoke to Daily Trust accuse airlines of secretly fleecing them by hiding the surcharges that were not explained.

    Asabe Daudu, who said she is a frequent air passenger, told our reporter that the airlines and the authorities were taking advantage of the high demand for air transport due to the dilapidated roads and insecurity along Nigerian highways.

    She said in the advanced world travelling by air was not a privilege but necessity therefore passengers were first taken into consideration before any other thing, but in Nigeria too much taxes are placed on air travellers because it is considered a luxury.

    Mr Samuel John, a businessman who also frequently travels by air said it was not fair to be charging passengers higher taxes than the ticket fare. He said government needs to encourage air travellers in order to attract traffic for more airlines to grow rather than discourage flying.

    He said in most countries, tickets were relatively cheap compared to what obtained in Nigeria.

    However, the airlines operators have also joined in condemning the high taxes paid to government agencies, saying when the taxes were deducted, they were left with little or nothing as profit.

    Chairman of Air Peace, Barr. Allen Onyema, during a recent aviation roundtable, attributed the taxes paid on air tickets to the inability of some airlines to meet their salary obligations.

    Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi told Daily Trust that the taxes and charges payable to government were usually clearly defined on the ticket, adding that fuel surcharges also formed part of the add-on charges.

    The popular taxes are the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) paid to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on each passenger; the Ticket Sale Charge (TSC) which is shared by all aviation agencies including the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).

    There is also the over flight charge, navigation and landing fees paid to NAMA and fuel surcharge among others.”These are the charges that make up the surcharge as contained in the cost of ticket”, says an airline official who would not want to be named.

    A spokesperson of Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Okwudili, also confirmed the development but denied that airlines were exploiting passengers.

    “You are all familiar with these charges. These are the components of the surcharges you are talking about. Of course we can begin to indicate that in the ticket, it would not be proper. So the issue of shortchanging passengers does not arise”, he said.

    The NCAA insists that air fares are liberalized even as they said any fare increase must be duly approved by it.

    Spokesman of the agency, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, referred our correspondent to a recent statement issued on the air fares, saying the position has not changed.

    According to the statement, “air fares and sundry charges have been statutorily deregulated and subjected to market forces.”

    This, according to experts, implies that airlines are allowed to fix their fares in accordance with market forces; building into the ticket fares the various sundry charges - fuel surcharge, among others - which would enable them to break even.

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    Dangote, Niger sign $450m pact in rice, sugar today

    A Memorandum of Understanding between Dangote Group and Niger State government would be signed today for a $450million investment in sugar and rice production, the Executive Director, Corporate Services of Dangote Group, Dr. Mansur Ahmed, has disclosed.

    Speaking at the Niger State Investment Summit yesterday, in Minna, Ahmed, who represented the Chairman and CEO of the group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said the company would establish a large scale Rice Processing Mill that would off take and process over 200,000 metric tons of paddy rice from out growers within the next three years.

    He said as part of the backward integration programme in sugar, the company would also establish a state-of-the art sugar industry involving the development of over 30,000 hectares of sugarcane plantation of about 500,000 metric tons of refined sugar in the state.

    The sugar project, he said, would be located in Lavun local government area and could generate 10,000 jobs in the state.

    He said a Memorandum of Understanding between the Group and the state government in relation to the proposed sugar company would be signed at a ceremony today.

    “We are very excited about these investments and look forward to kick-starting this mutually beneficial partnership with the state government and the good people of Niger state,” he stated.

    He said the state, with its vast arable land and many rivers as well as investment-friendly government, has become the destination of choice for investors in the agricultural sector.

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    Whistleblower: 5000 tips received, N11bn recovered - Adeosun

    The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has said that the Federal Government recovered N11.6 billion so far from the tips they received since the Whistleblower Policy was launched in December 2016.

    Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the fifth Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR) Lunch Time Seminar, with the theme: ‘The Whistleblower Policy and its Implications for Public Servants’, Adeosun said that out of the 5,000 tips received government only acted on 365 of them and that N375.8 million had been paid to 20 whistleblowers who provided information that led to the recovery.

    She said the Whistleblower Policy had been one of government’s most successful new initiatives, adding that over half of the tips came from public servants touching on issues like contract inflation, ghost workers, illegal recruitment, misappropriation of funds, illegal sale of government assets, diversion of revenues and violation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) regulations, among others.

    She said 39 per cent (144) of the actionable tips related to misappropriation and diversion of funds/revenue, 16 per cent (60) related to ghost workers, illegal recruitment and embezzlement of funds meant for personnel emolument, 15 per cent (56) related to violation of TSA regulations, 13 per cent (49) related to contract inflation/violation of the Procurement Act and failure to carry out projects for which funds had been released and nine per cent (34) related to non-remittance of pension and NHIS deductions, while others included concealed bail-out funds and embezzlement of funds from donor agencies.

    “Part of our work is to analyse trends and take corrective actions. For example, many of the salary, tax and pension under remittance cases shared a common thread. Several cases where institutions were found to have insufficient funds to meet there obligations often had illegal recruitments which bloated the wage bill and agencies responded by part-paying or short paying salaries, whilst applying to FG for salary shortfall payments. We are revising our procedures for approval of recruitment, which will improve our budgeting and control.

    “Equally, in many cases where revenue has been diverted to accounts outside TSA, we have reviewed our reconciliation and receipting processes. So the information being provided is useful in driving process improvements. If as a civil servant you have information about a possible misconduct or violation that has occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur, we implore you to come forward and report it. You can submit your information anonymously and confidentially through the online portal, by email or by phone and if you choose to disclose your identity, I assure you that it will be fully protected.”

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