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Experts urge FG to broaden tax net to reduce borrowings

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Finanical analysts have urged the Federal Government to broaden the tax net to boost revenue and reduce the country’s rising debt profile.

They gave the advice in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday.

Sheriffdeen Tella, a Professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, said the Federal Government should broaden the tax net to improve its revenue and reduce new borrowings.

“The authorities should deploy technology so as to ensure that eligible Nigerians do not evade taxes particularly the elite.

“The payment of taxes is quite crucial to meet government statutory obligations to the people for the public good,” Tella said.

He suggested that the Federal Government should sell the country’s moribund assets to raise revenue and reduce the urge to borrow to meet its obligations.

He added that the political class must cut down the cost of governance to reflect the times.

“ Our political office holders must see the need to reduce the high cost of governance because the pandemic has led to a drop in government revenue.

“ The country’s economy is yet fragile and our office holders must live within the current economic realities,” Tella said.

Also speaking, Dr Titus Okunrounmu, a former Director, Budgeting Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the Federal Government should manage its debt exposure by strengthening its diversification drive.

“ More emphasis ought to be given to the mining sector, among others to contribute adequately to government earnings.

“The sector should be enhanced through private investment to change the revenue position of the country,” Okunrounmu said.

NAN reports the World Bank listed Nigeria among the top 10 countries with high debt risk exposures.

It stated this in the financial statement for International Development Association (IDA), which was among the World Bank Fiscal Year 21 audited financial statements released on Monday.

The financial statement said, “IDA faces two types of credit risk: country credit risk and counterparty credit risk.

“Country credit risk is the risk of loss due to a country not meeting its contractual obligations; and counterparty credit risk is the risk of loss attributable to a counterparty not honoring its contractual obligations.

“IDA is exposed to commercial as well as noncommercial counterparty credit risk.”

Nigeria was rated fifth on the list with $11.7bn IDA debt stock, while India led the list with $22bn IDA debt stock, followed by Bangladesh with $18.1bn IDA debt stock, Pakistan with $16.4bn IDA debt stock, and Vietnam with $14.1bn IDA debt stock.

But the Debt Management Office (DMO), in a swift reaction, flayed media reports listing Nigeria as a “high-debt risk nation.”

The agency said such publications claiming that the classification came from the IDA Audited Financial Statement for the Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021) were a misinterpretation of the report.

DMO stated: “The World Bank’s report was an assessment of the performance of IDA and not the performance of the IDA loans nor the debt repayment capacity of the beneficiaries of IDA loans.”
(NAN)

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Export Rejects: NEPC, other Inter-Agencies on a fact-finding mission to UK

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In a bid to curb the incidences of export rejects, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is leading an Inter-Agency team to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of strategic effort to address the issue which constitute a major constraint to the growth of the non-oil export sector.

The National Food, Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) Federal Produce inspection Service (FPIS) and Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) are among the Agencies participating on the fact-finding mission.

The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak who led the team lamented that these cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regime on Nigerian exports in the importing countries and in some cases led to the suspension or ban of some products.

According to him “It also attracts unfavourable international media attention, gives the country a negative image as well as constitutes financial burden to the exporters who have to bear the cost of either reshipping the banned product to Nigeria or destroying the product.”

A statement by Ndubueze Okeke, the Head Cooperate Communication of the NEPC, the objective of the 5-day visit is to provide Nigerian export-regulatory and facilitating agencies the opportunity of observing the processes of agricultural commodities import procedures and interface with Port Health and Food Import Regulatory Agencies at the Border Control Points (BCPs) in the UK.

Other areas to be visited by the team are, Southampton Port (the second busiest port in UK), Spitafield Market – a one-stop aggregation and distribution centre for imported food in the UK as well as the Food Standards Agency (FDA), the parliament among others.

The team also held an interactive session with some Nigerian food importers in UK as part of effort to address the challenges encountered in importing food items from Nigeria to UK. It will be recalled that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) Otunba Niyi Adebayo recently inaugurated a Technical Committee to address the incidences of export rejects with view to proffer solutions to the problem.

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SON Commends FAO, NCC on review of food standards

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The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commended the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the National Codex Committee (NCC) for critical role played in the elaboration of food Standards at the International level especially at the various committees of the Codex Alimentarius Commission where Standards are adopted at the National level.

The Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Mallam Farouk Salim disclosed on Thursday while speaking at the awareness and advocacy workshop organized by the National Codex Committee (NCC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

for high level policy and decision makers and public presentation of the 4th Edition of the revised National Codex Committee Procedural Manual in Abuja said the review was apt in order to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Olobayo Kunle, SON Director General said NCC has also contributed to the review of the Food safety policy and Food safety Bill in Nigeria.

“The National Codex Committee Procedural Manual was first prepared in line with CAC procedural manual published in 2002, with further revisions in 2007 and 2012 to guide the activities and improve functions of all the stakeholders involved for effective operations.

“The review of the NCC Procedural Manual was necessary to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities over time, incorporate major changes, improve and strengthen Codex structure in Nigeria

“The National Codex Committee (NCC) Nigeria successfully applied for the Codex Trust Fund (CTF) 2 support to build strong, solid and sustainable national capacity to engage in Codex activities through the organization of annual awareness and advocacy workshops with political decision-makers, targeted competent authorities and other stakeholders to disseminate more information on Codex.

“The overall objective of the activity is to sensitize public decision-makers and competent authorities on the need to engage more in the national codex and to regularly provide all the support to increase its actions in favour of food safety at national level” he said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to Nigeria, Fred Kafeero said since the inception of CAC, FAO has worked with World Health Organisation in the development of international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practices to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade using the principles of risk analysis and scientific advice provided by joint FAO/WHO expert bodies and consultations.

Represented by the FAO Assistant Representative Administration, David Fehintola said its country office in Nigeria with support from the regional office for Africa has continued to partner the Government and the National Codex Committee towards creating effective and efficient policies and strategies to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.

He said FAO believe that ensuring the supply of safe, quality and nutritious foods is as important as ensuring the availability of foods and food standardization as “Poor quality foods do not ensure food security” he said.

The FAO Representative to Nigeria said the agency has been supporting the National Codex Committee (NCC) in Nigeria, which has members from all the MDAs and the Private sector through the execution of the Codex Trust Fund 2 activities with a focus on the implementation of the Codex Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

“We, at FAO believe that it is vital that the NCC commits itself to the core values of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in its Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Consensus Building and Transparency in all its work.

“FAO in its support through the CTF2 project endeavors to ensure the participation of all Codex members in the country in standard setting process to ensure these core values are met.

“A lot has been achieved this year in terms of capacity building of codex members, advocacy, sensitization and public awareness as well as in the review, finalization and dissemination of the NCC procedural manual” he said.

 

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Export4Survival: NEPC partners NOA to drive campaign in 36 States

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As part of strategic collaboration to promote the export of Made-in-Nigerian products and thereby increase foreign exchange earnings for the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has team up with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to create awareness for the Export4Survival campaign in 36 states of the federation.

The Executive Director of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak while on a working visit to the NOA in Abuja, said the visit was borne out of the need to seek strategic collaboration with relevant government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in a bid to rejuvenate the nation’s fragile economy in the wake of dwindling revenue from crude oil.

In a statement by Ndubueze Okeko, Head, Corporate Communications of the NEPC, Dr Yakusak, pointed out that the #Export4Survival is a patriotic call on all Nigerians to realize the urgency of engaging in non-oil export trade as a viable means of economic growth, poverty alleviation, industrial development and boosting our foreign exchange earnings.

“We must export our goods and services or perish. That is the only way the country could create jobs, create wealth and ensure a sustainable economy that guarantees prosperity for all Nigerians”, he added.

Responding, the NOA Director General, Dr. Garba Abari commended the NEPC for initiating the Export4Survival campaign as part of strategic initiative to increase the awareness of opportunities in the sector and benefits of exporting Nigerian goods and services to the overall growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

With 813 offices spread across the country, Dr. Abari said the NOA was strategically positioned to help the Council drive the campaign to the 36 states of the federation as well as the 774 local governments areas.

“Export4Survival is indeed strategic in finding a solution to the nation’s fragile economy. It is the only way to regain the value of the Naira as it will create wealth and job opportunities for all Nigerians”, he noted.

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