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FG Targets N1trn Revenue From Stamp Duties

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The Federal Government has charged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to ensure it recovers all stamp duties collected on behalf of the Federal Government but yet to be remitted by governnment agencies, banks and other companies.

Reason for the renewed focus to recover unremited stamp duties is that the federal government is targeting ₦1trillion giving the potential for revenue stamp duty has.

Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr. Boss Mustapha made this declaration in Abuja on Tuesday at the inauguration of the inter-ministerial committee on Audit and Recovery of Back years stamp duties and the launch of Federal Inland Revenue Service adhesive stamp.

The SGF noted that the government will focus on revenue from stamp duty as it has the potential to yield up to N1trillion annually if properly harnessed.

Mustapha told the FIRS that the federal government expects the lnter-Ministerial Audit and Recovery Committee “to judiciously undertake an audit and recover on behalf of the Government all stamp duties charged from January 2016 to date but yet to be remitted by the relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies, Deposit Money Banks and Nigerian InterBank Settlement System Plc among others.

In order to ensure transparency and accountability, Boss Mustapha directed and requested that “all recoveries made by this Committee be remitted to appropriate Stamp Duty Account maintained by the Federal Government with the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

He also directed “all relevant MDAs particularly the Central Bank of Nigeria, NIBBs, DMBs, NIPOST and FIRS should give maximum cooperation to the Committee in the discharge of its mandate.”

He said it had become imperative to recover stamp duties because of government’s dwindling revenue “which was caused by the negative impact of the Coronavirus pandemic which has led to a budget deficit of over N5trillion.”

Responding, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS Mohammad Nami said the stamp duty recovery efforts will start from his agency and directed the finance and accounts department to remit ₦39 billion being stamp duties collected by the Service to the Committee.

He also vowed to go after MDAs that have collected stamp duties from contracts executed but failed to remit same to the account.

Nami disclosed that between January and May this year, a total of ₦66 billion stamp duty fees collected so far has been remitted into the federation account. In addition ₦18billion was generated in 2019 fiscal period.

Giving a breakdown of the ₦66billion, Nami said ₦20billion was remitted by Deposit Money Banks, while ₦39billion collected by the FIRS is warehoused in the CBN.

Nami maintained that the FIRS is prepared to reposition stamp duties as the next major revenue source for Nigeria, as revenue from oil and gas continues to dwindle due to global fall in demand and price, “indirect taxes such as Stamp Duty remain the viable and sustainable alternative revenue source for funding budgetary requirements” he said.

The remaining ₦7.9billion he said represents stamp duty revenue from stamping of various instruments.

He attributed the rise in stamp duty collection to the dynamism triggered by the Finance Act of 2019.

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Business

Consolidated Hallmark Insures AtaraPay

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Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc is providing cover to AtaraPay to enhance its escrow service in a way that can be trusted and reliable enough to take away the monetary bottlenecks and resolve every crisis during transactions.

The executive director of TrustPay Technologies Limited, Yemi Adebiyi, said the relationship with Consolidated Hallmark is a safe way to strike an equilibrium between customer and merchant credibility whilst eliminating fraud in the process.

He stated that the introduction of escrow service by African startups such as AtaraPay, Paylock and Truzo have come in handy in addressing the “issue of trust” between buyers and sellers in a way that promotes transparency and protects the interest of both parties.

“As an escrow service, AtaraPay protects the interest of both buyers and sellers by acting as a trusted third-party responsible for the collection of funds and only disburses funds when both parties are satisfied with the transaction. Their unique value proposition is that they limit the uncertainty of online sales and the risk of fraud,” he said.

“For AtaraPay, it goes beyond just solving the trust issue that hinders e-commerce. It hopes to serve as a commitment bridge between buyers and merchants with the aim of bringing about the end of the Cash on Delivery era.”

He pointed out that for merchants, the AtaraPay escrow payment service can enhance consumer confidence in a new company that does not yet have strong brand recognition, because they have total discretionary power to decide if the service offered or product delivered is satisfactory or not.

With the advent of growing internet businesses and tech entrepreneurs in Nigeria, many talented youths are being shortchanged due to inability for online buyers to trust the service they have to render. Examples include students, small business owners, freelancers and software developers that make money from selling online via social media or personal websites. For these crops of online savvy merchants, offering credible service isn’t their problem; finding a credible buyer online is.

In order to help build and maintain trust, AtaraPay was established as an online payment trust service in Nigeria. AtaraPay is a web and mobile tool used by seller and buyer for protection during any online or offline commercial transaction through funds held in escrow by a trusted third-party.

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Private Schools Will Benefit From MSMEs Support Scheme – Osinbajo

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says private schools will benefit from the stimulus package the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has put in place for micro small and medium enterprises to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the 2020 edition of the MSMEs awards which held virtually on Thursday, Osinbajo listed hotels and road transport workers among the beneficiaries.

Osinbajo said the survival fund would help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff members.

“I am glad to note that this year has been an exception despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Locally, businesses are facing their most challenging time and the impact is particularly severe on MSMEs,” he said.

“The central plank of our response as a government to the economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic has been the Economic Sustainability Plan recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council.

“In that plan which essentially envisages an overall N2.3 trillion stimulus package, we made extensive provision for financial support to MSMEs, ranging from a guaranteed off-take scheme to a survival fund that includes a payroll support programme for qualifying businesses.

“The guaranteed off-take scheme seeks to provide support for MSMEs, manufacturing local products by guaranteeing the purchase from them of qualifying products such as face masks, hand sanitisers, PPE for medical workers, etc.

“These products will be distributed to Nigerians, Nigerian institutions and entities that would require them.

“The survival fund will help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff. The MSMEs that qualify for these will make available their payroll for verification by government.

“Companies that meet the requirements will then be eligible to have the salaries of their verified staff paid directly from the fund for a period of three months… the target beneficiaries of this scheme will include private schools, hotels, road transport workers, creative industries and others.”

He added that there is a N200bn fund which will be made available to MSMEs in the priority sectors such as healthcare, agro processing, creative industries, local oil and gas, aviation etc.

“This will be granted through a scheme jointly run by the BOI and NEXIM Bank especially for export expansion,” he said.

“The CBN is also committed to creating a N100bn target credit facility for MSMEs. Already the recently signed Finance Act already made provision for graduated company income tax rates with zero rates for small companies and a rate reduction for medium sized companies.”

He specially commended all those who have started businesses in Nigeria, no matter how small, describing them as champions.

“Every person who has taken it upon themselves to start a business in Nigeria no matter how small is a champion and we as a government owe it to you to create an enabling environment for you to thrive,” he said.

“This is President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to MSMEs in Nigeria that we will continue to stand by you and to support you and to create opportunities for you to grow and prosper.”

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CBN Wants To Freeze Criminals’ Accounts

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has requested statutory powers to freeze accounts linked to criminals in the country.

The apex bank has also called for the creation of a Credit Tribunal to strengthen credit recovery processes and enforcement of collateral rights.

These positions were advanced, in Abuja, yesterday, at the Senate Committee Public Hearing on its Bill for an Act to Repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2004 and re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020.

Mr Kofo Salam-Alada, CBN’s Director Legal Services, in his presentation told the lawmakers said that the 2004 BOFIA provided for the CBN Governor “to apply to the court for orders to freeze accounts which are deemed to be linked with criminal and other civil infractions.”

He noted, however, that in the new Bill, which has passed through the First and Second Readings, that provision was omitted, entirely.

“This omission he told the Senate “erodes the powers of the CBNand creates a huge gap in the regulatory and resolution framework. Therefore, we propose that the extant provisions should be reinstated,” Mr Salam-Alada pointed out.

On the Creation of Credit Tribunal, the director defended the position of the CBN, as according to him, such a tribunal would greatly enhance loan recovery in the nation’s banking industry.

“As part of measures to address the role of non-performing loans, we propose the creation of a Credit Tribunal. The overarching objective is to create an efficient regime for the recovery of eligible loans of banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFls) and enforcement of rights over collateral securities,” the director said.

On Dormant Accounts in banks, the CBN called for the inclusion of provisions to improve the administration of such accounts, adding, “such provisions should address such requirements as the criteria for determining dormancy, the processes for managing the funds in dormant accounts and procedure for reclaiming funds by beneficiaries.”

The apex bank called the inclusion in the Bill, statutory powers of the CBN to intervene in the process of managing a failing bank and bringing it back to sound financial health were possible.

The CBN urged a review of the framework for managing failing institutions in line with international standards to properly delineate roles for the agency tasked with managing failing banks and other financial institutions and those with responsibility for resolving banks and other financial institutions whose license has been revoked.

“In other words, the Central Bank of Nigeria does the former as provided in the BOFIA while NDIC is saddled with the latter under the NDIC Act. The global best practice is to have the banking legislation empower the Financial services industry regulator to regulate banks, promote their soundness and stability superintend issuance and revocation of operating licence without recourse to any other institution; while the Deposit insurer is in charge of bank resolution activities after the revocation of the operating licence,” the director said.

Mr Salam-Alada added: “There is a need to expand the options available to the CBN to resolve failing banks and manage the systemic crisis without recourse to the public treasury. In line with international best practices, we recommend the establishment of a resolution fund to pool resources for managing banking sector distress.

“We also recommend the adoption of additional resolution tools such as bail-in (ensuring that losses are absorbed by shareholders and creditors), sale of the business (allowing the resolution authority to sell all or part of the failing bank to a private acquirer) and asset separation (isolating the “bad” assets of the bank in an asset management vehicle for an orderly wind-down, if immediate liquidation is not justified in current market conditions).

“Several new types of licensed institutions have entered the Nigerian Financial Services sector since the enactment of the 1991 Act. These include the non-interest banks, credit bureaux, payment system service providers, among others. There is a compelling need to introduce new provisions in the Bill to address the unique peculiarities of these institutions.”

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) agreed with the position of the CBN on the need to delineate the responsibilities of the two organizations in banking failure resolution.

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