Jonathan woos investors, ready to okay refineries’ licences
N’Assembly upbraids DPR over N30b expenditure
IN a single year, the Federal Government lost N37.2 billion to indiscriminate granting of waivers to importers of raw materials, the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) disclosed yesterday.
The NSC said this yesterday while reviewing its performance last year and presenting a budget of N1.24 billion as allocation for the purchase of generator fuel and refreshment for its men and officers in 2012 during a session with the Senate Committee on Finance .
Deputy Comptroller General of Customs (Human Resources,) Mr. Garuba Makarfi, said: “We lost 7 percent of our collection to export expansion grant which is non-negotiable, this amounted to about N37.2 billion. The grant was given to export oriented companies and local manufacturers, to export raw materials, but instead, these local manufacturers sell their certificates to dealers who then use it to import cars into the country.”
Also yesterday, the National Assembly’s Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream) and Gas Resources queried the Department of Petroleum Resources’ (DPR) proposed recurrent expenditure of over N30 billion for 2012. The DPR has only 1,100 workers.
The development came when the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, led by the Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, appeared before the committee to defend the 2012 budget of the Ministry. The Minister had presented a budget of N51 billion for recurrent expenditure for the Ministry, out of which N30.399 billion was earmarked for recurrent expenditure of the DPR.
Besides, as part of efforts to raise the nation’s petroleum refining capacity and reduce the importation of refined products, President Goodluck Jonathan is willing to give licences to those interested in setting up refineries in the country.
Jonathan dropped the hint yesterday, when he received a delegation of investors from Brazil at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He told the visitors: “Nigeria has four refineries, but their combined capacity does not meet the country’s needs, so we are willing to approve applications for refining licences.”
The President stated that the government has opened up previously restricted areas of the economy to private sector investment opportunities, assuring the delegation of diverse opportunities since “Nigeria s still a green area in terms of investments.”
He directed the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to hold further discussions with the Brazilian Voigt Group, to explore areas of mutual cooperation. The Ministers of Housing, Trade and Investment, Power and the Federal Capital Territory (State), the President directed, should also be part of the discussions.
Earlier, the Voigt Group had said it was willing to invest in construction, housing, power plants, petroleum refining and oil spillage clearing. The group also announced its willingness to donate 120, 000 housing units to Nigeria, over a period of three years. Mrs. Ngozi Olajeme of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund led the delegation to the State House.
Senator Emmanuel Paulker, Chairman of the Committee, was the first to raise the matter. He declared that the lawmakers were uncomfortable with such a provision in the budget, particularly at a period when the government was trying to cut down on the cost of governance.
Out of the N35, 997, 149, 841 budget, capital expenditure was allocated only N4, 786, 302, 790 while N31, 210, 847, 051 would cover personnel costs and other items under overheads. Further details of the budget show that, personnel costs for the DPR in 2012 is N30, 399, 182, 331 while N811, 664, 720 is for overhead costs.
Director of the DPR, Mr. Austin Olorunshola, explained that the DPR included the additional cost for the workers expected to be recruited within the next two weeks.
The Committee on Foreign Affairs expressed concern over government’s move to establish additional missions abroad, when the existing ones have not been properly managed.
The Mathew Nwagwu-led Committee on Foreign Affairs also condemned government’s inability to acquire property of its own abroad, to serve as offices and residents for foreign missions, frowning at the exorbitant annual rent, that had led to accumulated debts abroad.
Earlier on Wednesday, the House of Representatives’ Committee investigating the management of subsidy on petroleum products subjected the leadership of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to a questioning, over the non-payment of tax and import duties by companies involved in the importation of refined petroleum products into the country.
Also on Wednesday, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) took its complaints to the House of Representatives regarding the non-payment of the road maintenance petroleum tax to it by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
At a resumed session of the committee’s public sitting, the Chairman of the FIRS, Mrs. Ifueko Omogui-Okauro said that although, taxation and import duties could attract huge revenue to the country, the Federal Government had placed an order exempting the importers of refined petroleum products from paying any form of tax.
This revelation triggered off several rounds of interrogation by members of the committee, who sought to know who approved the exemptions. The Chairman of the Committee, Farouk Lawal, asked the FIRS boss to present to the committee, within one week, records of the approval that exempted firms from paying duties and taxes.
On why they were exempted, Omogui-Okauro said government had always been sympathetic to Nigerians, who she said were the ultimate beneficiaries of the tax exemption. She explained that the main concern of government had been how to take the burden off the consumers of the products.
However, the FIRS boss said that a discussion that would lead to imposition of tax and duties on imported petroleum products would serve as a booster to government’s revenue base.
She was also asked to submit to the committee, records of tax registration by all oil companies involved in the importation of petroleum products. Omogui-Okauro had informed the committee that some of those companies had not done their tax registrations.
When asked whether she did not see anything wrong with the template of the PPPRA template that disallows tax and import duties on petroleum products, the FIRS boss said the whole problem of fuel import tax or non-registration of all companies involved in the importation of petroleum products would be over when the sector is deregulated.
“I do not believe that in a deregulated environment, PPPRA template would not include tax,” she said.
FERMA asked the House of Representatives to prevail on the PPPRA to release the statutory five per cent of the pump price on petroleum products in order to augment the agency’s revenue.
FERMA’s Chief Executive Officer, Gabriel Amuchi told the Ofor Chukwuegbo-led House Committee on FERMA at a budget defence session at the National Assembly, that the major challenge preventing the agency from delivering on its mandate was paucity of funds. According to him, the Road Maintenance Tax was to be deducted from both diesel and petrol.
Kwara Governor, Abdulrazaq Declares 24-hour Curfew
Following the outbreak of violence in some quarters of the State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State has declared a 24-hour Curfew on the state starting on Saturday.
Governor Abdulrazaq made this known in a statewide broadcast on Friday night.
Recall that on Friday some residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital stormed the warehouses where the government stored COVID-19 palliatives expected to be distributed to citizens.
Also Read: BREAKING: Lagos Government Relaxes Curfew
The warehouses, located at the cargo warehouse of the International airport in Ilorin as well as the agro-mall located in the Sango area of the state were totally ransacked as residents struggled to pack as much food items as they could.
Abdulrazaq said, “Lives are being threatened. Businesses are being looted. Public properties have been targeted. This is unacceptable. It is not who we are.
“To curb these acts of criminalities, I hereby declare a 24-hour curfew in Ilorin metropolis from midnight today October 23rd, 2020. This is in line with Sections 1, 2, and 4 of the Public Order Act Chapter 382 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“People are urged to stay indoors in compliance with this curfew. This will be reviewed as we watch developments.
“Our observation is that what has happened today is not a protest, it cannot be defended under any guide, it was a pure act of criminality as some people are hiding under the guise of nationwide protest.”
Lagos Policemen Brutalise PUNCH Journalists For Covering #EndSARS Protest
Two PUNCH journalists, Femi Dawodu and Segun Odunayo, were on Wednesday brutalised by policemen guarding the Lagos State House of Assembly in Ikeja.
The duo had gone to cover events around the Alausa area, a major demonstration ground of the #EndSARS protesters calling for a total overhaul of the Nigeria Police Force.
According to the PUNCH, both Odunayo and Dawodu were recording a live video of activities in the area when the policemen accosted them and ordered them to stop the recording.
After showing the policemen their identity cards, indicating that they are journalists covering #EndSARS protests and monitoring compliance with the government-imposed curfew, the policemen became annoyed and pounced on them.
Odunayo said the policemen tortured them for four hours, adding that they stripped them of their clothes, laid them on the floor, beat them with a stick and guns, and took a video recording of them while torturing them at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Odunayo said, “Femi and I were at the Secretariat in Alausa around 7 am and were doing a live video of the activities going on in the area. We were heading back to the expressway when a group of armed policemen accosted us at the Lagos State House of Assembly roundabout and immediately collected our phones. We showed them our ID cards, but they refused to let us go.
“What got the policemen annoyed was that we saw them using a stick and a rubber to beat a young man, and during the live video, they heard me saying that they were beating someone. So, after they arrested us, they tortured us and demanded that we should do another live video denying the statement, but we refused.
“Each Time we refused, they slapped us, used a stick to beat us, used the butt of their guns to hit our heads and bodies after stripping us of our clothes. All they wanted was for us to do another live broadcast to claim that we lied and we didn’t because we told the truth.”
Dawodu said it took the intervention of the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi before they were released at the Alausa Police Station, adding that before their release, the policemen took their details, including their addresses, took a video record of them and threatened to go after them if any negative report was published about what happened.
He said, “The policemen were transferring the aggression of what is happening regarding the #EndSARS protest on us. They later took us to the Divisional Police Station in Alausa, and if not for the DPO, the policemen guarding the LSHA that arrested us would have done more grievous things to us.
“The PPRO and the DPO later spoke with them, and we were released.
“But despite his intervention, we were told to write statements. They collected our details, address, took video recordings of us making false statements during the torture, and threatened to use it to blackmail and go after us if we end up doing any bad report against them.”
CCTV At Lekki Toll Gate Was Not Removed -Lekki Concession Company Says
Lekki Concession Company in their press release has debunked the rumour that the Lekki Toll Gate CCTV camera was not removed.
According to the press release by the company which condemns the unlawful killings of the peaceful protesters said no one gave the order for the removal of the Closed Circuit Television System as the CCTV is still intact as of the time of this report.
Speaking further, the concession company revealed that if the CCTV was to be removed, it would require the use of machinery to reach the heights that they have been installed.
Read the release report below;
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