Nigerian Postal Service says the recently signed Finance Act bill is negatively affecting its finances. According to the Post Master General of the Federation, Adebayo Adewusi, the removal of stamp duty as part of the collectable revenue of NIPOST is depleting their revenue.
Adewusi who said the Finance Act was hindering their revenue generation drive, requested that the Senate Committee on Communications review the Finance Act and return the stamp duty collection to NIPOST. Nairametrics had reported that the right to collect stamp duty was handed to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
This has caused division between the two agencies of the Federal Government, pitting NIPOST against the FIRS. It had also led to NIPOST workers picketing the Federal Ministry of Finance, as they lay the blame on the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.
The workers frowned at the decision of Ahmed to have the proceeds of the stamp duty warehoused by the FIRS since it’s a tax-related responsibility. In a Nairametrics report, the Secretary-General of the workers’ union, Ayo Olorunfemi, argued that though the stamp duty collection would now be carried out electronically, it does not mean government should change the collector.
[READ MORE: Buhari seeks amendment of new Finance Act)
Olorunfemi had stated that, “The action of the minister is unfortunate, inimical to the ideals preached by this administration and if not checked, is capable of causing inter-agency disunity or unhealthy rivalry even now when all hands must be on deck to uplift the nation.”
Despite the plea of Adewusi, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, told Adewusi to think out of the box in order to mitigate the challenges even though NIPOST said the decision is against the global practice, as NIPOST has the right to produce and sell stamp for both postage and duty purposes.
Why the rancour about stamp duty? If the FIRS takes over the collection of stamp duty, it will likely affect the revenue of NIPOST, as they will not be able to meet their target. Stamp duty collection was expected to contribute significantly to the revenue of NIPOST.
On the other hand, the stamp duty collection will add to the already saturated collectable revenue being administered by FIRS. This will help to further boost the revenue profile of the Nigerian tax administrator.
COVID-19: Nigeria, 6 other African countries to start antibodies tests next week
These countries are the first set of countries to commit to the testing.
Nigeria and 6 other African countries will start conducting coronavirus antibodies tests as early as next week, as part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent.
Apart from Nigeria, the other African countries that will benefit from this include Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and Morocco.
While making the disclosure in Addis Ababa, the head of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said that these countries are the first set of countries to commit to it.
Western countries have been using antibody tests to discover how many of their citizens have been infected by the coronavirus disease, with the expectation that will help them reopen their economies.
This new development is coming some days after the Nigerian Government started negotiations with prospective COVID-19 vaccine distributors to the country ahead of their availability.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who kick-started the negotiation on behalf of the Federal Government, in a virtual meeting with representatives of the vaccine candidate, told the co-discussants that Nigeria must be given priority when COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution.
Nkengasong said that Africa has so far conducted 9.4 million coronavirus tests, a 10% increase over last week. These tests show whether people currently have the coronavirus disease.
Experts said that the low levels of testing in many countries mean that Africa’s infection rates could be higher than being reported.
He said that 25 African countries still have full border closures, with 23 imposing tests at entry points. He also stressed on the need to harmonize border testing and recognize certificates in order to facilitate travel.
Buhari discloses what it will take to reverse US visa ban
President Buhari has fully addressed 2 out of the 6 areas of concern raised by the United States.
President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that it will take enormous resources to reverse the ban on immigrant visas for Nigerians by the United States Government. He also noted that the country is making some progress in this regard.
The president disclosed this on Thursday, August 14, 2020, when he received the report of the committee on citizen data management and harmonization in Abuja. He pointed out that 2 out of the 6 areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed.
The committee was set up in February this year to address areas of concern that led to the temporary suspension of issuing immigrant visas to Nigerians.
It can be recalled that the Trump administration, in January announced the placing of new visa restrictions on 6 countries namely Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan, in an expansion of its controversial travel ban policy.
The ban on those 6 countries, which took effect in February, prevents their citizens from obtaining U.S. visas that can lead to permanent residency.
U.S. officials cited issues such as sub-par passport technology and failure to sufficiently exchange information on terrorism suspects and criminals as reasons for the ban.
The Minister for Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who had asked the U.S. ambassador in Abuja to drop the ban, also chaired a committee to address U.S. concerns.
In his statement on Thursday, Buhari said that after suggestions from a report by the committee, they had fully resolved two out of six U.S. concerns, substantially satisfied two others, and had made some progress on the last two.
But he said they were still drafting a workable plan for the report’s full suggestions, which require enormous resources.
“I am delighted that this progress, especially the uploading of Lost and Stolen Passport and Travel Documents, has been acknowledged by the United States Government,” he said.
Buhari explained that Nigeria would harmonize citizen identification data held by different parts of government, create a national criminal management system modelled on INTERPOL, and start a national criminal DNA laboratory, although his statement did not specify what the country had already done.
It should be noted that Nigerians can still obtain visas for study, work, and travel in the United States.
Gold prices fall due to positive signs of America’s economic recovery
Gold traders may prefer to let this week’s dust settle and see where real yields pivot next week.
Gold prices fell on Friday morning at Asia’s trading session over positive signs of a U.S. economic recovery. Gold futures declined by 0.56% to $1,959.30 as of 05.09 GMT
The prospect of an economic recovery helped the U.S dollar to go up in value, while putting pressure on the precious metal. However, the postponement of talks surrounding COVID-19 stimulus measures in the U.S Congress capped gold’s losses.
In a note to Nairametrics, Stephen Innes, the Chief Global Market Strategist at AxiCorp, gave vital insights on the challenges that the yellow metal presently faces. He said:
“It has been a tumultuous week for the gold price, which is back to $1950 levels, having clawed back a good chunk of this week’s losses. The US dollar remains under pressure as investors are growing more skeptical of Congress’s willingness to pass a stimulus package.
“Still, it could be a challenge for gold markets to regain last week’s fame as more fixed income traders are willing to short bonds now, which complicates the bullish gold view.
“The question is whether the back up in yields is accommodation for this week 10-year and 25-year auction or a rethink on the curve.”
Given that nominal yield correlations have diverged a bit from bullion on the recent move, gold traders may prefer to let this week’s dust settle and see where real yields pivot to next week.