The Minister of Communications and Digital, Isa Pantami is definitely going through a difficult time. It appears he does not have a grip on the telecommunications sector as his directives to end voicemail charges, illegal data deduction and cut data cost have been disregarded by the network providers.
Directive on voicemail unheeded: Telecoms companies were directed by the Minister to deactivate voicemail services on its subscribers’ lines but the telcos seem unwilling to do that anytime soon, according to the statement of its umbrella group, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
The Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo said subscribers who are not interested in the voicemail services can opt out, so government intervention is unsolicited. Pantami gave the order in November 2019, instructing the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure the telecoms comply with his directive.
Pantami had accused the network providers of exploiting its subscribers with the aid of automatic activation of the voicemail service on their platforms. It was stated that the telcos were gaining financially by compelling subscribers to use the voicemail service by default.
But Adebayo said it’s a basic system feature that doesn’t require regulatory action.
“Voicemail is a value-added service offered to all willing subscribers and those who do not want the service can always opt out of voicemail services.
“It is a basic system feature and not one of those services requiring policy or regulatory intervention,” he said in a report by Punch.
Telcos disregard data directive: The telecom firms have also not complied with Pantami’s directive on data usage and cost. The Minister had criticised the deduction of data by the network providers, describing it ‘illegal’ and informing the NCC to ensure the telcos put an end to it.
But according to one of the network providers, MTN, in a Nairametrics report, the consistent data deduction is due to system upgrade. MTN said the speed of its network causes the data depletion at the rate being experienced by its subscribers but other telcos have kept mum on this.
The minister also ordered the reduction of data cost, stating that data price in Nigeria is too high. But since he gave the directive three months ago, words haven’t translated into actions on the part of NCC and the network providers, who have constantly pick holes or allegedly ignore Pantami`s directives.
Reacting to the claim that the high deduction of data is illegal, Adebayo said, “There are no such things as illegal deduction by any operator,” and when responding to directive on data price cut. There are regulatory procedures and framework for price variation and we will continue to comply will all such provisions as may be directed by the NCC, our regulator, from time to time.”
Telcos have their own demand: While the network providers have ignored the directive of the Minister, they have their own demand which they hope to see done this year. They want the government to amend the Tax Order of 2015 in order to reduce multiple taxation.
“Illegal closure of telecom sites in the name of tax and revenue collection is an aberration that must be met with severe sanctions,” Adebayo added.
Telcos pay statutory taxes levied on operators, Annual Operating Levy of certain percentage of earnings to the NCC and are also charged various rates by some other agencies of the federal, state and local governments.
Why this matters? When the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave a directive to the banks to cut charges on ATM withdrawals and other bank charges, Pantami was quick to commend the action of the apex bank, stating that it would drive digitalisation in Nigeria. While the CBN directive has taken hold on banks within days of notice, telecoms are yet to implement the directive issued to NCC by Pantami three months after.
FAAC disburses N682.06 billion to 3 tiers of govt in September [Full-List]
FAAC disbursed the sum of N682.06bn to the three tiers of government in September 2020.
The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursed the sum of N682.06bn to the three tiers of government in September 2020. This is contained in the latest monthly FAAC report released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
According to the report, the federal allocation of N682.06bn disbursed to the three tiers (FG, States and LGAs) indicates a 1% marginal increase when compared to N676.4 billion disbursed in August 2020.
A cursory look at the report showed that in September, the Federal Government received a total of N272.90bn (40%), States received a total of N197.65bn (21.6%) and Local Governments received N147.42bn (21.6%). The sum of N30.88bn (4.5%) was shared among the oil producing states as 13% derivation fund.
In addition, revenue generating agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) received N6.66bn (1%), N13.48bn (2%) and N5.70bn (0.8%) respectively as cost of revenue collections.
Further breakdown of revenue allocation distribution to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) revealed that the sum of N196.56bn was disbursed to the FGN consolidated revenue account; N4.78bn was disbursed as share of derivation and ecology; N2.39bn as stabilization fund; N8.03bn was for the development of natural resources; and N6.12bn to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
States federal allocation rose marginally
In September 2020, allocation to states rose by 3.4% to N197.65 billion compared to N198.8 billion recorded in the previous month.
The top five states with the largest share of monthly allocation in September are Delta (N13.8 Billion), Lagos (N11.44 billion), Rivers (N11.04 billion), Akwa Ibom (10.33 billion) and Bayelsa (N8.33billion). On the other hand, the top five states at the bottom of the ranking are Ekiti (N3.8 billion), Ogun (N3.7 billion), Plateau (N3.6 billion), Osun (N3.24 billion), and Cross River (N3.23 billion).
The federal allocation disbursed to the three tiers in September showed consistent improvement, when compared the previous months. However, this is still a short fall when compared to N740.87bn disbursed to the three tiers in the corresponding period of 2019.
The marginal growth recorded in the disbursed federal allocation may be due to the rise in revenue generation, on the back of earlier improvement in both domestic and cross border economic activities.
For states in Nigeria that largely depend on federal allocation to meet recurrent obligations, this may represent some sort of boost. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic (second wave) currently emerging in some developed economies may threaten oil price (the country’s main revenue source), as industrial activities may collapse globally for the second time in the year.
WTO: Nigeria to persuade the US to join the consensus on Okonjo-Iweala – Trade Ministry
Nigeria is making moves to reach out to the US to agreed to appoint Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General of the WTO.
The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment has said that Nigeria is currently reaching out to the United States and South Korea to back the WTO preferred candidate, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the role of DG of WTO.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Ministry and reported by Reuters on Saturday morning.
Recall that Nairametrics reported this week that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement that Nigeria’s candidate for Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had secured the support of the majority of the member-nations – but was yet to be declared and returned as the winner, as the United States opposed the consensus.
Nairametrics also reported this week that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was close to being appointed as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). A group of ambassadors also known as “troika” had proposed Okonjo-Iweala to lead the WTO, giving her a clear path to becoming the first woman to head the WTO since it started 25 years ago.
The U.S President, Donald Trump, blocked the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the WTO’s next DG on Wednesday, declaring support for South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee instead.
The Ministry said that the FG would try to persuade the United States to join the consensus, as most of the WTO’s members had agreed to appoint Okonjo-Iweala as DG.
“Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the WTO including the United States and South Korea to overcome the impasse as well as persuade the United States to join the consensus,” the trade ministry said.
Dangote Sugar appoints Ravindra Singhvi as GMD/Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Ravindra Singhvi has been appointed as the substantive Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc.
The Board of Directors of Dangote Sugar has appointed Mr. Ravindra Singhvi as substantive Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, effective October 30, 2020.
This disclosure was made by the company in a notification of the resolution of its board meeting, to the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The statement partly reads:
“Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc. wishes to notify the Exchange and the investing public that at the Board of Directors Meeting of the Company held today, Friday October 30, 2020, the Board approved (a) the Unaudited Financial Statement for the Quarter Ended September 30, 2020, and (b) the appointment of the current Ag. Managing Director, Mr. Ravindra Singhvi as substantive Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc. effective October 30, 2020.”
What you should know
Prior to his new appointment, Mr Singhvi had been the ag. Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc since 18th June, 2019, after serving as the company’s Chief Operating Officer.
The Board’s stance on the appointment
The Board has stated that it is “confident that he is a great asset to the Company, particularly at this time when it is on a rapid growth trajectory, in view of its recent acquisition and it’s several backward integration projects (BIP) to position itself for further job creation in local plantations and factories, import substitution and deeper contribution to national economic development.”
Mr. Singhvi is wished the very best in his endeavors.
About Mr. Ravindra Singhvi
He has over 39 years of proven experience in leadership positions in Manufacturing and Processes in Sugar, Petrochemicals, Cement, and Textiles products industries in India.
He is a Chartered Accountant with background in Company Secretarial Practice, Corporate Governance and Management, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in B.Com (Hons) and Law(I) from the University of Jodhpur, India.
Prior to joining Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Mr. Singhvi had served as the Managing Director & CEO of NSL Sugar Limited, Hyderabad, India, and Managing Director, EID Parry (1) Limited, Chennai, India, one of top three sugar producing companies in India.