Benue Lawmakers Push For North Central Development Commission

Benue State House of Assembly appeals to Samuel Ortom to facilitate North Central Development Commission The Benue State House of Assembly has appealed to Governor Samuel Ortom to help facilitate the establishment of the North Central Development Commission in a joint effort with other governors in the sub-region.

The lawmakers made the resolve as they resumed plenary on Thursday to debate key national issues, one of which is the insecurity issue relating to attacks by herdsmen.

A motion moved by the Majority Leader, Representative Benjamin Adanyi, prayed the House to also appeal to National Assembly lawmakers from the north-central region to pursue a bill in this direction.

Outlining the effects of herdsmen attacks in the region, Adanyi opined that such bill would help rebuild devastated communities in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau states, as well as Southern Kaduna in Northwest Nigeria.

He likened the killings and destruction in the region to what the Boko Haram terrorists did in the northeast.

The lawmaker explained that the incidence warranted the Federal Government to establish the North East Development Commission, with proposed funding of 3% deductions from Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue collected nationwide.

He further questioned why such amount of VAT was collected from Benue State to fund the reconstruction of the northeast while excluding the state which he said was confronted with acute internal displacement challenges.

Following a few amendments of the motion by the Speaker of the House, Honourable Terkimbi Ikyange, the lawmakers unanimously passed the proposal.

Subsequently, the Benue South caucus of the assembly met to discuss the brutal killing of a soldier in Agatu Local Government Area of the state.

The Minority Leader of the House, Sule Audu, appealed to the Nigerian Army to halt the alleged destruction of Agatu villages in a retaliation move.

No Intention To Increase Taxes, Udoma Tells National Assembly

No Intention To Increase Taxes, Udoma Tells National AssemblyThe Federal Government says it does not have any intention of increasing taxes in Nigeria.

The government, however, said it was working towards increasing its internally generated revenue through the broadening of its tax base.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, made this clarification on Monday, while responding to a comment by Senator Ben Bruce, at the public hearing of the Joint Session of the National Assembly on the 2017 Budget.

The minister said “a view has been expressed that we should not increase taxes, that we should broaden tax collection instead. That is precisely what is in the budget”.

No Increase At All In Taxes

Senator Bruce had given the impression that the Federal Government was about to increase taxes, a development he said would further worsen the economic fortunes of individuals and businesses.

Mr Udoma stated that “there is no increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), there is no increase in company’s income tax (and) there is no increase at all in taxes.

“But people who are not paying taxes must be made to pay. So the idea is to increase revenue by broadening the tax base, not by increasing taxes”.

Some economic experts who spoke at the session advocated government spending its way out of recession, partnering the private sector to speed up growth, planning for sustainable development, working with the State governments for integrated development, involving relevant experts, as well as consulting widely in planning, monitoring and evaluation of projects among others.

The Minister told the gathering, which also include Civil Society Organisations and private sector operators, that all the views expressed by the speakers have been captured in the 2017 Budget.

“The concerns that have been expressed are reflected in the budget; the need to spend our way out of recession is reflected in the budget, the need to spend in a way that will attract private sector spending is also reflected in the budget.

“Indeed, the thrust of the budget is to partner with private and development capital to leverage and catalyse resources for growth,” he said.

Achieving Economic Growth

Mr Udoma said the government realised that public resources cannot be enough to drive the development process, which is why the 2017 Budget was directed at catalysing private sector resources and using PPP for a number of projects.

“If you look at housing, we are putting in 100 billion Naira, but we are expecting another 900 billion Naira from the private sector.

“If you look at the EPZ, we are putting in 50 billion Naira, but we are expecting a huge injection of funds from the private sector.

“So, this budget is aimed at achieving economic growth, aimed at achieving diversification, aimed at improving our competitiveness, aimed at improving ease of doing business, aimed at creating more jobs and social inclusion, and aimed at improving governance and security,” he explained.

According to the minister, the spending is targeted at areas that have quick transformative potentials such as infrastructure and agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals and services among others.

He pointed out that the present government believes in planning, stressing that “when we came in, we came out with a document – the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 Budget of Change.

“We set out short term plans for one year. We started working on a longer term plan for four years 2017 -2020; and that involved extensive consultation”.

Economic Recovery and Growth Plan

Senator Udoma, who touched on partnership with state governments, told the audience that the Federal Government has consulted severally with State governors and with Commissioners of Planning in all the states.

“We are working closely with the States. We even organised a retreat in February 2016 with all the states. In all our initiatives, we are working with the states.

“(Also) on agriculture, we are working with the states; we even have task forces that involve state governors. So, we are working together with the states,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Akpandem James.

The minister spoke further on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan where he pointed out that the government consulted the private sector extensively.

“Indeed, just last week we met twice with captains of industry and members of the private sector to sit down and expose the plan to them and get their input.

“We are going to council soon and subsequently the plan will be launched before the end of the month,” he said.

Mr Udoma further explained that because government has bold plans which are tailored towards pulling Nigeria out of recession, investors are changing their attitude towards Nigeria.

“People have heard of our plans; they have seen the plan because we have had extensive consultations with our development partners – with the World Bank, with IMF (and) with UNDP.

“They have all been exposed to our plan and we have shown them what we are determined to do (because) that is why people are believing in Nigeria and investing in the Eurobond,” he disclosed.

The Path Of Growth

The minister was emphatic that the government has a clear vision and is on a determined path to get the economy out of recession.

“We are determined thereafter to begin to go back to the path of growth, a more diversified growth, not depending just on crude oil.

“We want to stimulate our manufacturing sector, we want to stimulate agriculture; so we have a coherent, cohesive plan,” he said.

The Minister of State, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on her part, said government was determined to ensure that Nigerians experience inclusive growth this time around, “which is why we have the social intervention programme.

“The social intervention programme took off fully in October 2016 and all the four components of the SIP have now been rolled out in their first phases and we are scaling up on a monthly basis.” she said.

Mrs Ahmed added that the programme would benefit greatly from the support of the National Assembly, in order to ensure that the benefits were distributed equitably and that no needy citizens were missed out.

FG Says No Plans To Increase Value Added Tax

FG Says No Plans To Increase Value Added TaxThe federal government has been explaining how it will fund the 2017 budget at a session in Abuja.

According to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, 11% of government’s projected revenue will come from recoveries of looted funds, which stands at 258 billion.

He said that there are no plans of increasing the value-added tax which is currently at 5%.

Udoma Says No Plans To Increase Value Added Tax

Udo Udoma, Value Added Tax, Budget BreakdownThe Nigerian government says it has no plans to increase the Value Added Tax which stands at 5% in 2017.

The government, however, said 11% of its projected revenue would come from recoveries of looted and misappropriated funds which currently stand at 258 billion Naira.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, on Monday allayed fears of possible tax increase, as the nation battles to recover from economic recession.

At a budget breakdown session in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, Senator Udoma expressed optimism that the proposed revenues would help fund the 2017 budget.

The session follows the December 10 presentation of a budget proposal of 7.298 trillion Naira by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly.

President Buhari proposed that the implementation of the budget be based on Nigeria’s economic recovery and growth strategy.

The 2017 budget is based on a crude oil benchmark price of $42.50 per barrel, with an output of 2.2 million barrels per day.

Government’s expenditure is to be funded with the sum of 4.94 trillion Naira while oil is to contribute 1.98 trillion Naira of the amount.

Greater Cooperation

Meanwhile, President Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, solicited for greater cooperation between the executive and legislative arms of government.

He noted that the collaboration would ensure the smooth implementation of government policies and programmes.

The president said that despite the Principle of Separation of Powers, both arms of government should be united in the promotion of the common good of the people.

He added that whatever differences that might occasionally arise between the two arms of government should not be allowed to compromise their common goals of promoting the greater progress and development of Nigeria.

Niger State Gov. Presents 108bn Naira Budget For 2017

Niger State Gov. Presents 108bn Naira Budget For 2017The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has presented 2017 fiscal year budget proposal of over 108 billion Naira to the state House of Assembly for passage.

The budget tagged ‘Budget of Consolidation’ is N22.9 billion and 21.27% more than the 2016 budget.

Governor Bello, while presenting the budget to the members of the state House of Assembly on Friday, said that the proposed budget comprises of a recurrent expenditure of N48,047,960,278 which is 44.45% of the budget and Capital Expenditure of N60,026,337,973 which is 55.55% of the budget size.

The Governor stated that the budget would be generated through Statutory Allocation of N50,695,206,724, Value Added Tax (VAT) of N8,793,474,040, Internally Generated Revenue of N12,403,874,117, Paris Club loan N13,400,000,000 and Capital Receipts of N22,781,770,379.

He further said that the budget would focus on Youth and Women Empowerment as they constitute a large part of the population; completion of projects; enhancement of IGR; re-introduction of teachers’ colleges; transformation of education and development of waterworks.

The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Ahmed Marafa, in his remark, said that the lawmakers would ensure the passage of the bill in a shortest possible time and would intensify effort in monitoring the 2017 budget performance so as to provide social amenities to the people in the state.

The Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Hon Jonathan Vatsa,  while reacting to the budget presented by the Governor to the state House of Assembly, says that the Governor has good intentions for the people of the state focusing on youths and women empowerment and re-introduction of teachers colleges, transformation of education in the state.

Gaidam Presents 2017 Appropriation And Finance Bills

Yobe, new boards, chief executivesThe Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, on Friday, presented the 2017 appropriation and finance bills to the state assembly for its scrutiny.

In the 2017 budget, the Governor said his administration intends to spend the sum of 69.3 billion Naira, which represents a 22% reduction to that of the outgoing fiscal year.

He told the House that in the 2017 fiscal year, government is earmarking 39.5% to cater for capital expenditure, while the recurrent expenditure is put at 60.5%

Tagged “budget of consolidation and self-reliance”, it also represents a decrease of 19.5 million Naira, compared to that of last year.

Governor Gaidam said the down size will ensure budget realism for the attainment of realistic results in the implementation of earmarked programmes.

“This decision is informed by the economic recession, occasioned by the fall in price of oil and consequent need to ensure budget realism for attainment of optimum result in the implementation of planned programmes.

“In spite of the daunting challenges experienced as a result of paucity of funds at the disposal of government, we still remained focused to make concerted efforts, aimed at improving the quality of life of the citizens of the state” the Governor said.

The 2017 budget according to him, is to be executed with funds to be generated from internal revenues, statutory allocation, value added tax, ecological fund, excess crude oil, external and internal loans among others.

Giving a review of the 2016 budget performance, Mr Gaidam said of the 88.9 billion Naira estimated for the year, the total revenue received from all sources covering the period from January to November, amounted to 49.8 Naira giving 56.1% of the required target for the year.

The Governor called on well-meaning people of the state and other interested parties to support his administration in the realization of his developmental objectives.

“In the implementation of the budget, we will involve every patriotic citizen of Yobe, our development partners and indeed all other stakeholders to make meaningful contributions towards realization of the set developmental objectives.

“In so doing, emphasis shall as usual be placed on observance of due process, probity, accountability and transparency, which are the essential hallmarks of good governance” Gaidam said.

Yobe Governor Presents 80.6 bn Naira For 2015 Budget

2015 budgetYobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, has presented an appropriation bill of 80.6 billion naira to the State Assembly for scrutiny and subsequent passage into law for the 2015 Budget.

The Governor, while presenting the budget to the House, said that the current figure represents decrease of 22.2 billion naira, equivalent to 22 per cent less than that of 2014.

Ibrahim Gaidam said that the reduction in budget size was because of the downward projection from the federation’s account.

Governor Gaidam revealed that 37 billion naira is allocated to capital expenditure, while 43 billion naira is for the recurrent expenditure, a representation of 46% and 54% respectively.

The budget, which would be financed through Internally Generated Revenue, statutory allocation, Value Added Tax, ecological fund and access crude oil, according to him, is aimed at upgrading the performance of infrastructural facilities and identify areas of job creation, among others.

Giving highlights of the 2014 budget, the Governor said that so much was recorded despite the insurgency which claimed several lives in the state. He also condoled with those who lost loved ones, as well as properties during the chain of attacks.

The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Adamu Dogo, said that the presentation of the appropriation bill by the Governor marked the first reading. He gave an assurance that the House would give the bill speedy deliberations, with a view to achieve immediate passage into law.

The Speaker also praised the leadership style of the Governor, which has made the return of almost all House members ahead of the 2015 election easy.

Taraba State Accountant-General Arraigned For Alleged N1.56 Billion Fraud

Joel-J-Lenbang-BNThe Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned the Taraba State Accountant- General,  Mr Joel Joseph Lenbang, over the diversion of  N1.56 billion Naira  state funds  at the Jalingo Federal High Court  .

The Accountant-General was arraigned on Wednesday before Justice Donatus Nwabueze Okorowo for defrauding the Taraba State Government.

Lenbang, was docked on an 8-count charge, including obtaining false pretence and abuse of office, offences contrary to and punishable under the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006

EFCC’s Head, Media and publicity, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed that  Mr. Lenbang allegedly disguised and withdrew monies for sundry payments on behalf of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as payment of Bank Commissions on Turn Over (COT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) which became a monthly affair making a total sum of N1,567,226,557.081 between January 2012 and December 2013.

Although Lenbang pleaded not guilty to the 8-count charge levied against him, the prosecuting counsel, Al Qasim Ja’afar, applied for a date to commence trial but the counsel to the accused filed a motion for bail.

The Judge, Okorowo adjourned the case till July 11, 2014 for hearing and remanded the accused in prison.

Mr Uwajuren said the EFCC swung into action following a petition received from a concerned Taraba State indigene, sometime in February 2014, alleging massive looting of Taraba state funds.

The petition, according to him, triggered investigation of the lifestyle of some of the officers mentioned in the petition and who were believed to be living above their means

FG vs. Lagos: Supreme Court To Decide On FG’s Power To Collect VAT

court_courtThe Supreme Court will on Friday deliver judgment in a suit filed by the Lagos State Government, challenging the power of the Federal Government to assess and collect taxes on the supply of all goods and services within its constitutionally defined jurisdiction.

Lagos State had been seeking a declaration of the court to abolish the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, which it said infringed on its power to assess and collect taxes on the supply of goods and services within its territory.

The State Government is also asking the Supreme Court to nullify the VAT Act and grant its reliefs, which according to the brief of argument, includes a declaration that the VAT Act “is outside the legislative competence of the National Assembly and is therefore unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

However, in its notice of preliminary objection filed by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Government challenged the competence of the plaintiff’s action, contending that the action “relates to acts of a federal agency and cannot therefore form the basis for invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.”

Also, according to the preliminary objection it had submitted, as ordered by the court, in a brief of argument dated May 22, 2008, the Federal Government argued that the suit was an abuse of court process.