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Energy, Finance, ICT

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has urged stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to key into the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Electronic Platform and Information Technology Application to improve operation efficiency.

Mr Sarki Auwalu, DPR’s Director and Chief Executive Officer, gave the advice at the organisation’s 2020 Annual General Meeting on Thursday at Ugboroke Community, near Warri, Delta.

Theme of the event was: “Oil and Gas Safe Operations and Compliance: DPR a Business Enabler”.

Auwalu was represented by Mr Bassey Nkanga, DPR, Operations Controller, Port Harcourt Zonal office.

He said that the platform was rolled out to add values to the stakeholders’ operational activities, and also improve the ease of doing business.

“These electronic tools are being deployed in phases.

“They are software with multiple interfaces that enables interactions on operations activities among stakeholders.

“This is in accordance with the government’s mantra of improving ease of doing business and digitalisation of processes in all the sectors of the economy.

“I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity by adopting and utilising these tools in your operations for improved efficiency and sustainable development of the sector in accordance with global best practices,” he said.

The DPR boss urged the stakeholders to develop dynamic safety culture to carry out their operations safely.

Auwalu said that safety could be achieved through compliance to the rules and regulations of the regulatory agency.

“Compliance to the rules and regulations will promote safe operations and also maximise your profit. Safety culture cannot be bought, you craft it yourself.

“DPR is committed to engaging all stakeholders to promote safety culture and continue to comply with the Petroleum Laws, regulations and guidelines in the oil and gas industry,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Antai Asuquo, DPR Operations Controller, Warri Zonal office, said that the meeting was to share ideas with stakeholders in the downstream sector on the way forward.

Asuquo said, “We will continue to give you the necessary support to grow your businesses.

“The theme is carefully chosen to ensure that cases of accident are reduced to the barest minimum in the downstream sector.”

Also, Mr Amalu Tobechukwu, DPR’s Establishment, Monitoring and Regulations, Department, Warri office, presenting his activities, urged the operators to avoid LPG Cylinder to Cylinder rebottling and decanting.

Tochukwu said that DPR had commenced online application system to ease the process of filing applications, advising the stakeholders to take advantage of it.

The Divisional Fire Officer, Warri Fire Station, Mr Tamigbe Francis, urged stakeholders to have fire extinguishers in their business premises.

In attendance were representatives from Matrix Energy, IPMAN, NUPENG, NPA, Delta Ministry of Land and Survey, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS).

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Finance, SME

At present, there are over 86,000 banking agents across 772 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, a demonstration of FirstBank’s commitment to deepening financial inclusion and ensuring the unbanked are adequately catered for. In an interview with BusinessDay, Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank’s CEO, noted that over N9.6 trillion had been processed through the bank’s agent network.

As he explained, FirstMonie agents have supported several government and NGOs’ cash transfers to the poorest of the poor in the rural areas. Additionally, selected FirstMonie agents in the rural communities are equipped with BVN enrolment devices; as such they are able to enrol and open accounts for rural dwellers that hitherto may not have had the opportunity to be included in the formal financial services system.

The bank’s commitment to providing access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was also highlighted by the CEO, who hinged this on “their potential to impact the economy”.

He discussed the bank’s value adding solutions that have created a functional ecosystem for SMEs to thrive. The ecosystem includes propositions such as connection of the SMEs to talents and resources/cutting edge tools, access to business finance and market, capacity building opportunities and policy advocacy.

These are all aggregated on its SMEConnect platform as value adding products and services for easy access and at rates (prices) that are competitive and mostly discounted. The SMEConnect is a digital platform that allows the SMEs connect to FirstBank’s offerings from the comfort of their locations anywhere in the world.

This, according to Adeduntan, has been well received by the SME community as we engage across the country.

 

Culled from BusinessDay

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Economy, Finance

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) generated a total sum of N4.9 trillion of tax revenue in the year 2020, a landmark achievement that represents approximately 98% of the national tax target of N5.076 trillion set for the FIRS by the Federal Government.

This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Muhammad Nami during a press conference in his office.

While briefing the press, Mr Nami pointed out that this near 100% collection feat was all the more remarkable when placed against the backdrop  of the debilitating effects of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy; the all-time low price of crude oil in the international market; business disruptions and lootings during the #EndSars protests; generous tax waivers granted by the FIRS to ease the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown; additional tax exemptions granted to small companies in the 2019 Finance Act; and  insecurity in some parts of the country.

Throwing more light on the significance of the 2020 performance, he further noted that the FIRS recorded this feat at a time when the price of oil hit an all-time low. In other words, oil which used to contribute over 50% in tax returns through the Petroleum Profits Tax in previous years, accounted for only 30.6% contribution to the tax revenue generated in 2020. He also added that the non-oil tax collection was 109% in 2020, which is 9% higher than the previous year. 

Mr. Nami attributed the FIRS revenue generation success in 2020 to a number of reforms initiated by the Board and Management of the Service under his leadership. The reforms included capacity building for members of the staff; improved staff welfare package; promotion and proper placement of staff; deployment of appropriate technology for tax operations; segmentation of taxpayers to ease tax compliance; and continuous collaboration with relevant stakeholders, among others.

 Mr. Nami commended “the conscientious taxpayers in the country and dedicated members of staff of the FIRS nationwide for their support and devotion to work which made this performance possible despite the numerous obstacles encountered by the Service in 2020”.

He added, “The FIRS is optimistic this current fiscal year 2021 will be better than 2020. We shall perform exceedingly well given that our Service reforms are expected to yield greater dividends, especially as different parts of tax administration are being automated. We are also optimistic that exploration activities will improve in the oil sector and increase the prospect of higher tax revenue from the sector. Similarly, the ongoing reforms by the Service together with increased stakeholder collaborations will brighten the prospect of improved voluntary compliance and consequently higher tax revenue generation for the country this year and beyond.” 

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Finance, Government, ICT

Following the successful activation of the Economic Sustainability Plan’s (ESP) Cash Transfer scheme aimed at delivering financial support to at least 1 million urban-based households using technology, the Buhari administration’s vision of reducing extreme poverty by lifting at least 20 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next two years is now within reach, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Tuesday in Abuja while flagging-off, virtually, the cash transfer scheme to be facilitated through a wholly technology-based approach called the Rapid Response Register (RRR).

RRR is the means by which urban poor and vulnerable population can be speedily identified using geographic satellite technology and other related means for the purposes of delivering cash to households affected by the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

According to the Vice President “the groundbreaking success of the RRR, now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of twenty million Nigerians in the next two years. This will be the largest of its kind on the continent. This (aspiration) is, at least from the perspective of this tested approach, now well within our reach.”

“The only constraint, of course, is the funding which we must look for because, this country deserves a social security scheme that will not merely alleviate poverty but also create wealth for the millions of those who are waiting for this opportunity.

“Our government launched the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) in 2017 to provide the framework for institutionalizing the work we started since 2016 on reducing extreme poverty in Nigeria, based on our administration’s vision to create a comprehensive social security programme for the poor and vulnerable and thereafter the pledge to lift 100 million Nigerian’s out of poverty in ten years.”

The Vice President maintained that the launch of the (RRR) social protection method of targeting, which is the first strategy to be developed and tested in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, would enable Nigeria tackle poverty in a more systematic manner, leveraging technology to expand the scope of the interventions.

His words: “As of 31st December 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households. Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 Billion directly into the hands of about 2 million poor and vulnerable people every month.

“This is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge; by way of improving the livelihoods of the beneficiaries through enhanced household purchasing power; smoothening consumption; increasing savings and acquisition of household assets; and improving the local economy. There are many more ramifications.”

Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq said the initiative would provide a gateway to other important government programmes, adding that Nigeria now has a database for impact tracking and the expansion of social interventions and related programmes, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of extending financial support to more Nigerians.

She said “By design, this register links to other databases such as banking information of respondents and national identity numbers. It is also a process that is advanced in unifying national databank towards the delivery of social development in Nigeria. There is no doubt that in future, as has been demonstrated in the previous presentation, we would be reverting to the process used here and the register itself, to aid emergency assistance”.

On his part, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Subham Chaudhuri commended the Federal Government for the initiative, noting it as a critical component in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While pledging the support of the World Bank for the project, Mr Chaudhuri emphasized the need for stakeholders to remain transparent in the selection and disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries.

About 3,115 households received alerts of payments instantly at the flag-off of the project by the Vice President. A total of 1 million households would be impacted directly under the scheme in the next 6 months.

The Cash Transfer scheme which is part of the ESP is designed to build a shock responsive framework for capturing and registering the urban poor and vulnerable populations across Nigeria. The RRR focuses mainly on the urban poor wards selected using scientifically validated methods of satellite remote sensing technology, machine learning algorithm and big data analysis.

Also present at the event include the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige; the representative of the European Union (EU) mission in Nigeria, Mr Ketil Karlsen, among others.

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Economy, Finance

The Federal Government is set to give N20, 000 cash grant to 160,000 poor, vulnerable rural women across the country to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

This was made known by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Faruk, at the launch of the grant, on Wednesday, in Katsina, where 6,800 rural women would benefit.

“We are targeting over 160,000 poor and vulnerable rural women in Nigeria for the N20,000 grant, to uplift their economic status. Our rural women with disability will also be included.

“It is my hope that the beneficiaries will use this opportunity to increase their income, enhance their food security and contribute toward improving their families,” she said, adding, “The N20,000, will go a long way in supporting any serious woman to start a business. What is most important is how judiciously you utilise the money”.

The minister said that over N9.5 billion was received by Katsina State, under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, from inception of this administration to date.

According to her, the grants had impacted on the lives of over 142,474 vulnerable households in the state, as 12 local governments were currently benefitting from the programme.

The minister listed the benefitting local governments to include, Bakori, Batagarawa, Baure, Bindawa, Dandume, Ingawa, Kaita, Kankara, Mani, Musawa, Rimi and Danmusa.

The minister also said that the Federal Government, in partnership with World Bank, had designed a Safety Net programme for Nigeria, that included cash transfer, as well as a COVID-19 rapid response register.

“The President has approved 1 million beneficiaries in the country to be given another N5,000 for the next six months to cushion the effects of COVID-19. This time around, we are going to target the urban poor and the artisans who lost their small businesses as a result of the pandemic,” she said.

In his remarks, the state Deputy Governor, Mannir Yakubu, who represented Gov. Aminu Masari, at the occasion, commended the Federal Government for the grant.

Yakubu pointed out that the government had done so much through its social intervention programme, to uplift the living condition of people in the country, since its inception, and urged the beneficiaries to ensure judicious use of the grant, to enhance their livelihoods.

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