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Foreigners using Free Trade Zone to evade tax payment after visa expires

Foreigners with business visas are reportedly taking advantage of the Free Trade Zones to evade tax payment for businesses and work done in Nigeria.

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Foreigners using Free Trade Zone to evade tax payment after visa expires

In a period the Nigerian government is looking to increase its revenue base, foreigners with business visas are reportedly taking advantage of the Free Trade Zones to evade tax payment for businesses and work done in Nigeria.

Illegal foreigners are revenue leaks: It was disclosed that the foreigners were going about their business activities without valid visas, as the ones with them already expired. This means that the affected foreigners are in the country illegally and using the Free Trade Zones as their shelter. This is the migrants’ method of evading the taxes that should be paid to the Nigerian government

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Muhammad Nami

According to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, the foreigners with expired visas were having permanent stay without government approval. They were also not remitting their taxes to the government as a result of their illegal stay.

“We were made to know that some of them come in with only business visa and after the expiration of three months of stay, they disappeared into different areas of the country like the Free Trade Zones.

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“When you look at the Free Zones today, the majority of workers there are Asians who came into Nigeria for business visit and before you know it, they have permanent stay without the approval of government and without paying kobo into government revenue coffers.

“We believe that the Senate Committee on Interior in the ninth Senate is aware of this and the Committee of Public Petitions is also aware of this.

“So we are calling on the Minister of Interior to be on the same page with the National Assembly for the lawmakers to give them the Bible of Revenue generation in its agencies,” Akinyelure said while suggesting that in order to curb this evasion, the Nigerian Immigration Service needed to prevent migrants’ influx into Nigeria.

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[READ MORE: FIRS to brace up on tax compliance policies)

Tax evasion harmful to Nigeria: Recall that the Nigerian government had intensified its revenue mobilisation effort because the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, said Nigeria had a revenue problem. This has led to frantic effort to beef up revenue through several channels including tax reform to fund capital projects.

Recall that the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Muhammed Nami already expressed doubt over the possibility of meeting President Buhari’s N8.5 trillion revenue target. With this level of tax evasion by migrants, the chances of achieving it continue to look slimmer. And failure to mobilise the needed revenue will affect the completion of capital projects.

It also increases the need for the Nigerian government to borrow, therefore compounding Nigeria’s debt problem. Akinyelure said the country can no longer afford to continue borrowing just to finance budget and infrastructure.

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Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Michael nnadozie

    February 24, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Oga senator abeg .
    I do not think that it is possible to evade direct and indirect taxes in Nigeria .
    If at all that there is anything like “free trade zone” in Nigeria which I doubt , I do not think that business would thrive in such places as for a foreigner to go and invest in such places .
    It is also said , since the inception of our great country Nigeria , it was stated constitutionally that all persons in the geographical location called “niger area” or “area around the river niger” would automatically become Nigerians in as much as they may have family ties with other people or persons in other countries .
    As for migration or traveling from one country to another , there are certain laid down rules and regulations as stated in the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which is in turn enforced by the various law enforcement agencies such as the customs and immigration services , airport authorities , sea port authorities , inland revenue service , the Nigerian police and other security agencies and law enforcement agencies within the country .
    Therefore , I see it as an image damaging statement to the government of Nigeria as a whole and as a statement that would ruin the reputation of our great country Nigeria in the international scene and in our diplomatic relations with other countries of the world .
    So therefore , I would suggest that the government make funds available to prospective borrowers for businesses and investments that would increase the country’s gross domestic products and possibly increase our country’s trade which would in-turn increase our foreign exchange earnings .

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Energy

NNPC to provide free conversion services to motorists to switch from PMS to autogas

The NNPC has revealed plans to help motorists switch from Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to Autogas.

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NNPC

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has disclosed that it is going to provide free conversion services in some selected NNPC retail filling station in the country.

This is part of the effort of the corporation aimed at assisting interested motorists to switch from Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol to Autogas as the Federal Government rolls out an autogas programme called the National Gas Expansion Programme.

This was disclosed by the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, while delivering his address at the Presidential Virtual Rollout of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP).

While delivering his address, Kyari pointed out that the areas of focus with existing Autogas service stations include the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa States.

The statement from Kyari partly reads, ‘’To support this effort, NNPC is providing free conversion services in some selected NNPC retail filling stations to assist interested motorists switch from PMS to Autogas, especially in areas with existing Autogas service stations in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa States.’

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The NNPC boss revealed that the state-owned oil corporation is expanding this initiative to all NNPC retail filling stations across the country, while also assuring motorists of steady availability of Autogas at competitive prices.

He also said that NNPC is expanding its natural gas footprint across the country in order to support industrialization and job creation through its various ongoing gas infrastructure projects which includes Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) gas pipeline project connecting East and West.

Others are Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS 11 which is expected to boost supply to the western corridor and the AKK gas pipeline that will supply gas to Abuja, Kaduna and Kano states.

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What you should know

  • President Muhammadu Buhari today performed the virtual rollout of autogas programme called the National Gas Expansion Programme. The programme, which involves the conversion of fuel-powered cars, generators from petrol to gas, is aimed at deepening domestic usage of natural gas in its various forms.
  • The programme is also in line with the Federal Government’s plan to make gas the first choice source of cheaper and cleaner energy. This follows the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry with sharp increases in prices of petrol.

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Energy

Senate confirms 6 NERC commissioners, drops Chairman-nominee

Six nominees for the board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) have been confirmed as commissioners.

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The Nigerian Senate has confirmed the nomination of six members for the board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as commissioners.

The legislators also dropped, Prof. Akintunde Akinwande, the nominee for the Chairman position due to his absence from the screening.

This was disclosed by the senate committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy on Tuesday.

The confirmed nominees are Sanusi Garba (North-West) as vice-chairman; with Nathan Rogers Shatti (North-East), Moses Arigu (North-Central), Dafe Akpedeye (South-South), Frank Okafor (South-East) and Musiliu Oseni (South-West).

The committee recommended that President Muhammadu Buhari present another nominee to replace Akinwande.

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What you should know

President Buhari had asked the Senate to confirm Sanusi Garba as Executive Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission.

He also sought the Senate nod for the confirmation of Dr Musiliu Oseni as vice chairman; and Aisha Mahmud as commissioner.

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The request was contained in a letter dated 15th October, 2020, and read on the floor during plenary by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

 

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: NCDC issues travel advisory for the yuletide season

The NCDC has issued a public health advisory to the general public as they prepare for the festive season.

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NCDC warns Nigerians against use of chloroquine for COVID-19

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued a public health advisory to all members of the public to exercise caution as they celebrate the upcoming festivities – Christmas and New year.

The Commission said that it is fully aware that the yuletide season affords a number of people an opportunity to celebrate with their families and friends and as well for people to travel to visit their loved ones or attend events, but cautioned that everyone has to make necessary adjustments in social interactions in line with the reality of the pandemic to limit the spread of Covid-19.

According to the commission, “Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, just over 67,000 Covid-19 cases have been reported with just over 1,000 deaths. Most of the confirmed cases and deaths have been in urban/semi-urban cities and towns and the risk of spread remains.

“The Covid-19 virus does not spread on its own, it spreads when people move around. This means that by traveling across countries and cities, there is a higher risk of transmission, especially to rural areas where the existing health infrastructure is already weak.”

(READ MORE: Covid-19: Africa prepared for possible second wave – Africa CDC)

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Key highlights of the advisory

  • Limit all non-essential domestic and international travels.
  • As an alternative to traveling, you could still remain socially connected with friends and loved ones using mobile or video conferencing technology.
  • Hold virtual services and prayer sessions to limit the mass congregation.
  • Observe appropriate social distancing protocols and personal hygiene in all public places and events, washing of hands frequently with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty and running water is not readily available.

Why this matters

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has continued to rise across several countries globally. Nigeria is not an exception, with the recent spike recorded in the number of confirmed cases in some major cities.

In the first wave of infections, the economy was paralyzed with lockdowns that lasted for months, and the country cannot afford a second wave which could be more catastrophic.

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