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Government

A major feature of Nigeria’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic as indicated in the Economic Sustainability Plan currently being implemented, has been the openness to new and creative ideas, all in a bid to save jobs, protect businesses, and attract new investments, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday during a webinar with some French business leaders under the auspices of the Franco-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Vice President noted that part of what the Buhari administration had done in its response to the pandemic was to “build a business environment that will be supportive of domestic and foreign investors.”

According to Prof. Osinbajo, “it is important to recognize that the pandemic, which really is the cause of the downturn, not just in the Nigerian economy, but practically all of our economies, all over the world, except perhaps China, also provides incredible opportunities for doing all manner of very innovative, and creative things.

“And I think that we are in a season where we are ready to experiment and ready to do a lot more. And if you look at our Economic Sustainability Plan, which is our response to the pandemic, what we tried to do was to do a few things that we thought would be game changing.”

Continuing, he said “for example, one of the important things that we are trying to do with respect to renewable energy is with solar power. We are collaborating with several solar power companies to provide, within the next 12 months, 5 million Nigerian households with solar home systems.

“This is partly to address the issues with the national grid by providing more off-grid capacity and provide more opportunities in the renewable energy space. What we are doing is to get the financing through the Central Bank of Nigeria as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan.”

Speaking on the issue of backward integration and citing the example of Fan Milk Plc, Prof. Osinbajo said private sector commitment need to align to the Federal Government’s backward integration policy.

“I am glad to hear that you are already doing 1.5 million litres of milk in Ogun State,” Prof. Osinbajo noted adding however that there is still a lot more to be done.

The Vice President noted that “for us, the issue of backward integration is right, front and centre, and it has been so for many years. We believe that an aggressive pursuit of it is really important for us as an economic policy.”

He continued: “The most important thing, as I said, is that we are committed to backward integration. Unfortunately, over the years, many companies have committed to backward integration but have simply not been as diligent and faithful with those promises. So, we really want to see much greater commitment and a plan that is as aggressive as our own aspirations.”

Participants at the forum include Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; The Executive Secretary and CEO of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Mrs Yewande Sadiku; the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Jérôme Pasquier; Chairman of the Board of the Franco-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Usman Mohammed, representatives of some French companies operating in Nigeria including Total Nigeria, Air France, Kwik Delivery, among others.

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Tourism

United Kingdom Trade Envoy to Nigeria, Helen Grant, has said that Nigeria was the fastest growing economy in Africa.

Grant said this at the two-day Nigerian Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS) organised by Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), in collaboration with Nigeria Diaspora Summit Initiative (NDSI).

The activity, which is the third edition, began on Nov. 20 and ended on Saturday, Nov. 21. It has the theme: “Post-COVID-19 Economic Resurgence: Targeting Diaspora Investment”.

A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Grant said the UK will strengthen relations with Nigeria.

She said that her government was ready to educate, and also learn from, Nigeria by enhancing the bilateral trade between both countries.

She added that UK and Nigeria had so much that unite them, especially in the areas of culture and language, and stressed the need to build on such existing relations to bring about economic growth.

She said that Nigeria was full of investment opportunities and potentials.

“We look forward to coming to Nigeria to identify with viable businesses that the UK government could partner with in generating real and long term benefits for both countries,” she said.

Also speaking, Alhaji Zubairu Dada, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, appluaded NiDCOM, NDSI and other collaborators for organising the activity targeted at bringing about constructive interface between Diaspora investors and business owners in the country.

He emphasised that Nigerians in the Diaspora were potential resources in the areas of skills, experiences and resources which could be tapped into, in bringing about national development.

He added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would continue to stress the importance of engaging with the Nigerians in Diaspora in bringing about economic resurgence and national development in the post-COVID-19 era.

Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who also spoke at the event, said that the Federal Government, through the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), had launched the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

He said that the efforts were targeted toward actualising the recovery of the economy from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that Nigerians in the Diaspora were key drivers of achieving the recovery growth plan.

He reiterated that the NDIS was an avenue of actualising the Economic Recovery Growth Plan through leveraging on the Diaspora resources.

He listed some of the achievements of the Federal Government in cushioning the effect of the pandemic on the citizens to include the release of 200 billion naira loans for micro small and medium enterprises in Nigeria.

He listed some of the investment opportunities in some parts of the country and told the meeting that the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment had been organising programmes and policies to attract investment to Nigeria.

(NAN)

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FEATURES, Government

Economic expert, Dr Ayodele Shittu, Department of Economics, University of Lagos, have called on Nigerian Government to prioritize domestic resource mobilization to consolidate the gains of economic diversification in the country.

 

Speaking at the recent World Stage Economic Virtual Summit, he commended the role of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP: 2017 – 2020) in Nigeria’s quest for a diversified national economy. He recommended that Nigeria should rethink its investments in infrastructure and technological progress. “From the perspective of a developing country, infrastructure should include both physical and human. By implication, it is expedient to investment more in public education and health in the same manner that we are investing heavily in the construction of roads and rail across the country.”

 

According to him, it is also important that we control our development space. “One notable advantage of the resource mobilization perspective is the fact that it encourages inward solutions to revenue demands. This limits the extent to which a sovereign nation such as Nigeria depends on other sovereign nations. By implication, when Nigeria owns its development space, it will give room to home-grown solutions that matches and fits with emerging challenges that are peculiar to Nigerians.”

 

He added that “drawing from the resource mobilization perspective, reduced dependence on foreign capital inflows means reduced debt burden or reduced commitments to internationally written contracts, which in most cases deplete our national savings. By implication, a control of our policy space implies conscious development of our investment destinations, creating of home-grown industries that are value-chain driven, and finally, there will be more job creation opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming youth populace.”

 

He spoke on the need to promote resilient and productive investments in the country. “In order to consolidate Nigeria’s economic diversification drive, it is important to reconsider the nation’s investment drive. My choice of starting with investment is borne out of the desire to correct lingering misconception that economic diversification is the same as investments in infrastructure. I must commend the effort of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the resilience and vigour committed to the construction of roads and rails across the country. However, is this all that defines infrastructure? In a lay man’s language, any service or system that facilitates smooth and efficient operation is an infrastructure. Thus, the first step towards consolidating Nigeria’s economic diversification is to promote resilient and productive investments in infrastructure (i.e physical and intellectual) and in technological progress. There are three important gains associated with resilient and productive investments namely improved private sector participation, scale up and growth prospects for small business, and effective diversification of the economic base of the country.”

 

He also called on government to shift away from over-dependence on natural assets.  “Over the years, attempts to depend less on natural assets inherent within the Nigerian economy have remained futile. This can be traced to ease with which revenue is generated from the export of natural resource – mainly crude-oil and solid minerals. The revenue, which has over the years become a lucrative source of foreign earnings, is also fast becoming a source of economic pain for the country. While Nigeria’s economy is the biggest in Africa by GDP, we are simply a small country at the global market because our country cannot influence not determine the selling prices of the natural assets that we ship abroad. Besides, persistent export of natural assets exposes our economy to external shocks just as we experienced in the mid-2014 and the first quarter of the Y2020. In order for us to consolidate economic diversification in our country, now is the time for depend less on the export of our natural assets. Instead, we need to commit to the identification and development of value-chains inherent in these assets. If this can be achieved, the implications on manufacturing, employment, and poverty reduction are enormous.”

 

On ownership of Nigeria’s development agenda, he explained that “The ERGP, which is designed to last for four years, has made a significant impact by taking Nigeria back unto the growth path. However, there are other development agenda that requires the support of the Nigerian government. It is important to note that Nigeria is neither an island nor can it survive in isolation. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Africa’s Agenda 2063 are two global development agenda that needs to be domesticated in our country. For Nigerians to own their development agenda, citizens’ participation must be encouraged in the planning, design, implementation, monitoring, and assessment processes. A bottom-up approach is usually preferred and public goods that emanate from such development strides will be properly managed at the community levels. Above all, when Nigerian owns the development process, it stimulates the intellectual assets of the country.”

 

“A commitment to resilient and productive investment in infrastructure and technological progress; to depend less on exports of natural assets, and to take ownership of development agenda in the country is a commitment to deepening economic diversification and promoting economic independence of the Nigerian state. Another benefit of promoting domestic mobilization of resources is enhanced fiscal consolidation. This will not only foster strong fiscal capabilities among the state and local government across the country, it will also entrench improved revenue and public spending management in Nigeria. Consequently, accountability, transparency, and equity will form the basis of executing economic activities in the country” he said.

 

On COVID-19 Pandemic and Consolidation of Economic Diversification in Nigeria he suggested that “There is an urgent need for us to reduce our dependence on external sources of financing. This does not connote abandoning external sources of financing 100 pct. rather, it implies that it is high time Nigeria government began to look inward, develop home-grown industries, and create noble and decent job opportunities for all.”

 

“There is an urgent need to secure our policy space. The ERGP is a testimony of what Nigerians are capable of doing. The more we appreciate our won intellectual assets, the better us because innovation and technological know-how will be home-grown. This paves way for less importation of technology and consequently, local innovation ecosystem will be developed across the nation.”

 

“There is an urgent need to control our development agenda. The shock that came with the COVID-19 pandemic was so rude that it exposed the deficiencies that have characterized the nation’s health and educational system. If we own on development agenda, research and development will be driven by local needs and our innovations will be tailored towards solving problems that are peculiar to Nigerians.”

 

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Government

Like it did last year offering a range of tax incentives to Nigerians through the Finance Bill later passed into law, the Buhari administration is again offering more this year through the 2020 Finance Bill so as to attract more incentives and make doing business in Nigeria more competitive.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this on Friday at the third edition of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit which was held virtually, featuring several Nigerians and prospective investors from the Diaspora.

Speaking specifically about how the Federal Government has been able to use the 2019 Finance Act to improve the business environment in the country, Prof. Osinbajo said “what we have done in furthering our own economic policy is to attempt to make the fiscal environment as attractive as possible. What we have done is to use the instrumentality of the Finance Acts to make or propose significant reforms.”

Highlights of the tax incentives in the proposed 2020 Finance Bill include:

  1. Reduction in duties on tractors from 35 to 10 per cent
  2. Reduction in duties on motor vehicles for the transportation of goods from 35 to 10 per cent.
  3. Reduction of levy on motor vehicles for the transportation of persons (cars) from 35 per cent to 5 per cent.
  4. Exemption of small companies from payment of education tax under the Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETFUND)-companies with less than N25m turnover are eligible
  5. 50 per cent reduction in minimum tax; from 0.5 per cent to 0.25 per cent for gross turnover for financial years ending between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2021.
  6. Granting of tax relief to companies that donated to the COVID-19 relief fund under the private sector coalition (CACOVID).
  7. Introduction of software acquisition as qualifying capital allowance.

Prof. Osinbajo emphasized that “the Finance Bill looks at several fiscal issues that we want to legislate on or amendments we want to make in the law, which would make it easier for us to implement the budget and also to ease the fiscal environment or make the fiscal environment friendlier. So, we started passing the Finance Act from last year and now we are proposing a second Finance Act this year.

“Last year, we passed a legislation giving small companies with a turnover of less than 25 million a year, tax exemption from the Companies Income Tax, while medium-sized companies with their turnover of between N25 million to a N100 million now pays Companies Income Tax at the lower rate of 20%. And then, services provided by Micro Finance Banks are completely exempted from VAT. So, no microfinance bank pays VAT now for its services. Withholding tax rates, also on roads, on bridges, on buildings, power plant construction contracts have been reduced from 5% to 2.5%.”

Explaining further, Prof. Osinbajo said “those who are doing construction contracts and proposing for construction contracts, pay a reduced rate, they no longer pay 5% they now pay 2.5%.

“Now in the proposed 2020 finance bill, we have gone a bit further, we are reducing by 50%, the minimum tax rate. So the minimum tax rate used to be 0.5%, now is reduced to 0.25% for gross turnover for the financial years ending between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2021. So we have reduced the minimum tax rate by 50%, by half.”

Making the point about the exemptions from education tax, the Vice President added that “we have exemption of small companies, with less than 25 million turnover from payment of the 2% educational tax under the tertiary Education Trust Fund. What we are saying now is that for companies that have a turnover off less than N25 million, they are no longer required to pay that 2% tax for the education tax fund so their tax burden is reduced.”

With regards to the provision for software acquisitions, the Vice President said “when companies acquire software for their company operations, in the past, that was treated as an overhead. Now we are going to treat it as a qualifying expenditure for tax deduction to improve the ease of doing business.”

On government’s efforts to generate jobs and create opportunities for income generation through the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), Prof. Osinbajo said “in response, we designed an ambitious N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan and the focus of that plan is on creating jobs, first by the Mass Agriculture programme where already we have enumerated 5 million farmers and geo-tagged them to their farm lands.

“Also, a Mass Housing programme where we are building 300,000 homes in all States of the Federation using local materials and using small to medium-sized construction companies and using direct labour.

“All of these locally produced. The whole idea is to generate jobs, generate opportunities and income in every locality that we are functioning in.”

In addition, the Vice President noted that “we also have a solar programme to make 5 million connections across the country. In other words, we are going to be putting 5 million Solar Home Systems across Nigeria that will service in all, about 25 million individuals.”

Commending the contributions of the Nigerian diaspora community in the development of the country, the Vice President noted that “our diaspora is one of our most vital resources, a literarily endless reservoir for talent, trade, investment, tourism, education, culture and sport opportunities.”

“But perhaps more important is the sheer range of well trained, honed and experienced talents that our diaspora represents. It is that potential not remittances that make our diaspora network an endless source of economic hope and social aspiration,” Prof. Osinbajo added.

Acknowledging the efforts of the CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, particularly in harnessing the resources and talents of Nigerians abroad, the Vice President said “the diaspora initiatives that we have, and all of your efforts are certainly appreciated and will result to a stronger economy for Nigeria and a better country.”

The investment summit is an annual feature of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
20th November 2020

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Government, ICT

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu have identified R&D, an evolving curricula for tertiary institutions and the need to leverage the Nigeria Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem in restructuring the economy away from Commodity-based to knowledge driven economic development. He addressed the recent World Stage Economic Virtual Summit.

According to him, “The current structure of the economy shows that Nigeria’s economy could be successfully diversified during post COVID-19 with less emphasis on oil. The most instructive new normal is the contribution of crop production at double digit level of 21.97% in 2020Q2 and 22.67 overall 2019, similarly at double-digit contribution at 14.3% in 2020 Q1 from 10.30 overall 2019 contribution in real terms in 2019 GDP. Before the recession in 2016 and the current situation influenced by COVID-19 Pandemic, our economy was heavily dependent on Agriculture, Oil and Distributive trade. This current reality is a clear confirmation of my earlier strategic approach to leverage the Nigeria Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem in restructuring the economy away from Commodity-based to knowledge driven economic development.”

On the strategy to achieve sustainable economic diversification, the minster explained that “The main thrust of the strategy is to reduce Nigeria’s’ over-dependence on import, especially of items we are well endowed with ample comparative advantage to supply the world. This will save a huge foreign exchange especially in R&D activities which will eventually translate to high quality Made-in-Nigeria raw materials, products and services. Our desire and goal is to ensure establishment of strategic alliance between the knowledge domain (Universities, Polytechnics/Monotechnics and R&D Institutions) and our industries, businesses and the entrepreneurs. These alliances are designed to observe the need to establish a strong and resilient National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) with support from the pillars of Standardization, Conformity Assessment and Metrology. As the regulatory establishments conduct mandatory Conformity assessment with requisite tool boxes, they are compelled to maintain delicate balances between Societal and Business Concerns before issuance of credible certification and Accreditation.”

He added that “The Strategy is designed to ensure that our graduates from tertiary institution are industry and businesses compliant with practical skills of modern and engaging STI demand. Our target is to minimize the issues of legislated or committee developed curricula of tertiary institutions but evolving curricula based on solving contemporary industry and services challenges.”

“With appropriate dosage of STI, research and development would improve the abundant Agro, Mineral and Energy raw materials required by local industries and services to meet the demand for export” he said.

Dr Ogbonnaya enumerated some of the achievements of the Ministry of Science and Technology since the National Strategy was approved for implementation by FEC on Wednesday, 31st May, 2017. According to him, “A functional institutional arrangement have been established to include constitution and inauguration of the National Consultative Committee on Competitiveness (NCCC) with ten (10) Standing Committees. In addition, a Strategy Implementation Task Unit (SITU) is established in the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology (FMST) and a Competitiveness Desk Office in our twenty MDAs.”

“The Competitiveness advocacy programmes have been conducted to include Round Table summits for MDAs of government, Organized Private Sector establishment, the Media and most importantly, for the first time in the history of our country, the workshop for all regulatory establishments in Nigeria. We believe in the role of regulators if Nigeria’s drive towards global competitiveness must be realized.”

“We have taken advantage of the Federal government’s Fiscal policy measure to effectively channel R&D activities towards items with high tariff and those that are now outrightly banned. Federal government Supplementary Protection Measures (SMP) is a wake-up call to the scientific community and organized private sector companies.”

“We have recorded substantial savings arising from reduction in import between 2017 to 2019 respectively. We recorded savings of ₦613.61Billion, ₦412.83Billion, and ₦2.3Trillion”

“We are currently embarking on redirecting R&D projects to industry and service demand-driven undertakings. All R&D institutions, Universities and Polytechnics across the country are advised to take advantage of the new realities and embark on STI enabled R&D projects with commercializable breakthroughs and findings. We would continue to push the frontier of commercialization of R&D breakthroughs in a manner that critical stakeholders earn benefits. Hence, while protecting intellectual property of our Scientists and their institutions, they would earn sufficient benefits from their efforts. Likewise, OPS that takes off R&D breakthrough would be compensated with ample benefits via subsidies and tax holidays.”

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