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FG Moves To Exempt Minimum Wage Earners From Income Tax

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The Federal Government said that with the proposed Finance Bill 2020, minimum wage earners will be exempted from the Personal Income Tax in order to reduce the impact of inflation on Nigerians.
The government also said that the exemption and other items in the proposed Bill, alongside various economic policies and incentives would ensure the resilience of the Nigerian economy to exogenous shocks.
The assurance was given by President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech delivered virtually by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday at the opening session of the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit Group Conference themed: “Building Partnerships for Resilience”.
President Buhari said, “We are proposing in the new Finance Act that those who earn minimum wage should be exempted from paying income tax.
“These provisions which complement the tax breaks given to small businesses last year will not only further stimulate the economy but are also a fulfillment of promises made to take steps to help reduce the cost of transportation and the impact of inflation on ordinary Nigerians.”
Explaining the role of the private sector in building a resilient economy, President Buhari said “this government has always emphasised that the private sector has a key role to play in our efforts to build a more resilient and competitive economy as expressed in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Private companies in design, construction, logistics, and finance are very much engaged in our infrastructural projects in power and rail as well as road and bridges and the installation of broadband infrastructure which is an essential requirement if Nigeria is to participate actively and benefit from the 4th Industrial Revolution.”
Continuing, the President added, “…it is clear that we must diversify the economy away from dependence on crude oil exports, speed up human capital development and improve on infrastructure. Above all, our economy must be made more resilient to exogenous shocks.
“It is important for the private sector to play a key role as we work together to identify national priorities and try to influence our future national trajectory.”
He gave insights into the collaboration between the CBN, the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority (NSIA), and other stakeholders in the creation of an Infrastructure Company (Infraco) Fund to address some of the nation’s critical infrastructure needs.
“It goes without saying that partnerships remain essential to attract the resources for building a solid national infrastructural base. I am pleased to inform you in this regard that we are working actively with the Central Bank, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and State Governments under the auspices of the National Economic Council to design and put in place a N15 trillion Infraco Fund which will be independently managed.
“The Infraco Fund will help to close the national infrastructural gap and provide a firm basis for increasing national economic productivity and growth,” the President explained.
Restating the commitment of his administration to sustaining collaborations with the private sector in addressing challenges, President Buhari said “if there is one single lesson to be learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that partnerships are essential for credible responses with lasting effects.”
According to him, “Our national journey to economic prosperity is a long one, so we must all certainly work together. As we saw, partnerships were essential when we were faced with the serious challenge of combatting COVID-19.
“We saw the key role that partnerships played in our national effort to combat the COVID-19 crisis. While Federal and State Governments worked together to manage the health response and ensure the establishment of isolation centres and availability of test kits, personal protective equipment, and medicines, the private sector also played an active role as individual entities, and also worked together in groups like the Coalition Against COVID-19.”
During the speech presentation, the Vice President responded to the issue of import duties raised by some speakers at the summit. The Vice President noted that “the point of the reduction in levies on motor vehicles, commercial vehicles for transportation is to reduce the cost of transportation by reducing the cost of vehicles.”
He explained that “with subsidy removal and the increase in fuel price and the pass-through to food prices, transportation costs had to be reduced. Now the automotive policy is directed at localising the production of vehicles. So the logic was to increase the duty and levies so that local production becomes more competitive. But the annual demand for vehicles is about 720, 000 vehicles per year. Actual local production is 14,000 vehicles a year.
“So, the problem is that at the current rate of production, we will not meet the serious national needs and this will just mean higher prices of vehicles and greater strain on other sectors of the economy that depend on transportation. But we are not giving up on the local auto industry.
“Two important things to note; the first is that we still have a relatively high duty at 35%, so there is still a disincentive for importation. Second is that we are promoting policy that the government must buy only locally manufactured cars.”
The opening session of the summit featured presentations by speakers including Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Kayode Fayemi; Governor Aminu Bello Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke; and the Chief Executive Officer of GIG Group, Mr Chidi Ajaere; among others.

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Nigeria launches First Solar-powered Charging Station For Electric Vehicles 

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The federal government has unveiled the first 100 percent solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

The station is a collaborative project of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) and Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS).

In February, the first locally assembled electric car was displayed in Abuja.

Speaking at the commissioning on Thursday in Sokoto, Jelani Aliyu, director-general of the NADDC, said the achievement signifies a significant milestone in the agency’s commitment to creating a world class automotive sector in the country.

“What has just been commissioned today is the nation’s first 100% solar powered electric vehicle charging station. 100% renewable energy, 100% clean energy to power 100% electric vehicles. Absolutely zero emissions, zero waste: from energy generation to energy utilization,” Aliyu said.

“This charging station is an important component of our national vehicle electrification programme.

“We are collaborating with three universities: UDUS; the University of Lagos and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.”

He explained that the charging station contains arrays of installed solar panels with 86.4 kilowatts per hour capacity.

They are then coupled to three online-offline hybrid inverters with 5-kilovolt ampere (KVA) each and synchronized to give an output of 15KVA/48watts.

The system’s energy storage is made up of 36 units of deep-cycle gel batteries with an output of 48 volts/1980 amperes.

The NADDC DG said the agency partners with academic institutions to create a platform for advanced research and development.

The collaboration will also involve the study, monitoring and evaluation of the entire system of solar cells, storage units and electric vehicles in various climatic and usage conditions in order to develop even more effective solutions for Nigerian and African applications.

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AIICO Insurance Records N60.7bn Gross Premium

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Olalandu said that the N60.7 billion represented 21.3 per cent growth, when compared to the 2019 financial year figure of N50.1 billion.

He attributed the growth to continuous investment in the agency’s force, increased focus on partnerships and better relationship with corporates.

The spokesman said that the firm recorded an underwriting loss of N36.3 billion in 2020 compared to N7.7 billion in 2019.

He hinged the loss on two main factors — reserving requirements for new policies underwritten in the life business in 2020 and changes in actuarial reserves in the life business for policies written in 2020 and prior years.

“There were significant movements in investment yields which affected the value of liabilities and assets in our life business.

“On the short and long ends of the yield curve, yields declined by about 7.7 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively in 2020.

” The effects of these changes are reflected in the change in life and annuity funds, as well as fair value gains or losses on the income statement.

” In addition, changing client preferences mean that there has been a change in our retail product mix.

“Some of these products require higher reserving requirements which results in an increase in our liabilities, thereby reducing reported underwriting profits, ” he said.

According to him, the underwriting performance in the general business also declined due to increased claims in fire because of the civil unrest across the country and special oil lines.

Olalandu said that the investment income of the insurer grew by 13.1 percent year-on- year to N11.7 billion in 2020 financial year from N10.4 billion in 2019 financial year from increased assets under management.

He said profit before tax from continuing operations declined by 22.6 per cent year-on-year to N4.6 billion in 2020 financial year from N6.0 billion in 2019 financial year.

According to him, the drop was due to the lower-than-expected profits in the company’s Life business as a result of higher-than-expected reserving requirements/low yields.

“However, our General Insurance and Wealth Management businesses increased their contribution to profits,” he said.

Olalandu said that the profit after tax from continuing operations declined by 12.9 per cent year-on-year to N5.0 billion in 2020 from N5.7 billion in 2019 financial year.

He said profit for the year declined by 11.1 per cent year-on-year to N5.2 billion in 2020 financial year from N 5.9 billion in 2019 financial year.

The spokesman said the company’s total asset increased by 52.4 per cent to N 243.1 billion in 2020 financial year from N159.5 billion in 2019 financial year.

According to him, AIICO’s total liability also grew by 59.6 per cent to N 208.4 billion in 2020 financial year from N130.6 billion in 2019 financial year.

He said the firm’s total equity increased by 19.9 per cent to N34.7 billion in 2020 financial year from N28.9 billion in 2019 financial year.

The company’s Managing Director, Babatunde Fajemirokun, was quoted  as saying that the pandemic caused a questionable global marketplace and led to a global economic upheaval.

Fajemirokun explained that the Nigerian economy slipped into its second recession in five years, with the business environment further impacted by incidents of civil unrest.

“Despite these unprecedented macroeconomic disruptions, AIICO grew its total assets by 52.5 per cent in the year under review.

“We delivered sound results having taken decisive early actions to protect our workforce, improve our financial strength, streamline operations and reinforce our distribution strategy.

“Over the past five years, we invested substantially in human capital and technology to significantly elevate our customer experience.

“This resulted in our gross written premiums growing 23.6 per cent year-on-year despite restrictions caused by the pandemic, ” he said.

According to the managing director, the company’s financial position remains strong, inspiring confidence in its ability to assume the risks its customers wish to transfer.

Fajemirokun said the insurer’s investors showed their commitment, as its rights issue announced in September 2020 was oversubscribed by about 26 per cent.

He noted that the capital was deployed judiciously, generating risk-adjusted returns for its shareholders and ensuring that it continues to keep its promises.

(NAN)

 

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NAIC Settles N848m Claims In 2020

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The Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) paid N848 million as insurance claims to its insured farmers in 2020, the company’s Managing Director, Mrs Folashade Joseph, said.

She stated that the corporation paid N856m to its policyholders who suffered losses in 2019.

“NAIC, since its establishment as an agricultural risk management agency of the Federal Government, has continued to deliver on its major mandates of providing succor to farmers and comfort to financial institutions which lend to participants in the primary agricultural production sector.
“To serve its clients who are located across the country, the corporation has very experienced and dedicated staff in every state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, ” she said.
The management of the corporation urged agricultural investors and lending institutions to continue to partner with NAIC, stressing that the organisation is  committed to the food security agenda of the Federal Government and intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

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