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Columnists

VAT collection edges higher but indicates weaker economy

VAT collection for Q2 2020 climbed higher by 0.8% q/q and 4.9% y/y to N327.2bn.

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Yesterday, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published data on Value Added Tax Collection (VAT) collection for the first half of 2020. According to the data, VAT collection increased by a modest 8.5% y/y to N651.8bn in H1 2020 from N601.0bn in H1 2019.

Suprisingly, VAT collection for Q2 2020 climbed higher by 0.8% q/q and 4.9% y/y to N327.2bn. The biggest contributing sectors to VAT collection, Professional services (up 40.9% y/y) and Other manufacturing (up 2.7% y/y) remained resilient during H1 2020. In addition, VAT collections on Breweries, Bottles and Beverages increased 12.0% y/y in H1 2020 although on a q/q basis, we observed a deep contraction of 27.3% in Q2 2020.

Further analysis of the data provided some indication on how weak economic activities were in H1 2020 given the disruptions brought by the global pandemic particularly in Q2 2020 when there was full lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and FCT in April. We recall the VAT rate which was increased by 50% from 5.0% to 7.5% kicked off in February 2020 and must have provided a significant buffer for VAT collections in H1 2020. If we adjust for the increase in the VAT rate, we think economic activities must have slowed heavily given that the impact of a 50% increase in rate translated to a relatively meagre 8.5% y/y increase in absolute collections.

The numbers confirm our view that the steep rise in prices of goods and services nationwide occasioned by high inflation and a steep currency depreciation in the face of stagnant wages and a pandemic has tightened the squeeze on consumer spending and as such raising taxes in this setting would only do little to improve government revenues. Thus, the Federal government needs to do more from a policy perspective to improve business operating environment, as well as consumer conditions, post the pandemic. In our opinion, this would have a multiplier effect on companies’ revenue as well as consumer demand which would not only boost VAT collections but also other taxes such as Company Income Tax.


CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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One year after Nigeria’s index case, what has her energy sector learned?

A critical question is, has the Nigerian energy sector learned anything from the oil shock?

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On February 27, Nigeria confirmed its first case of COVID-19 which at the time had infected just about 80, 000 people with a little below 3, 000 dead as a result. Exactly one year later today, with over 113, 000, 000 people infected and over 2, 500, 000 dead globally, the pandemic has radically transformed the way of life of the world. There has been learning across various sectors and a re-imagination of how things are done. A critical question is, has the Nigerian energy sector learned anything?

In early March, only about a week after Nigeria’s index case, the world was greeted by oil shocks resulting from the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, further aggravated by falling demands resulting from lockdowns, flight restrictions and the general apprehension about movement and the pandemic. Countries dependent on oil exports, like Nigeria, were concerned about the toll it would take on their economy.

Oil went to an all-time low, the lowest it has ever been in 18 years and many economies went into panic mode. It was not long before the Nigerian government removed petroleum subsidies at the tail end of Q1 as it was costing the country up to $2 billion a year. The end to subsidies -or what we assumed was the end, led to market-led pricing for petroleum.

READ: Shell Foundation and DFC mobilize $145 million for renewable energy in Africa, Asia

Around the same time, the marginal field bid rounds were launched, with the various fees to be paid by prospective investors rising exponentially from what they were under the last bid rounds, and required to be paid up front. The country also witnessed increased divestment in oil and gas assets by major oil and gas companies. At the start of Q4, the government introduced what it called service-reflective tariffs which were about twice the initial costs previously paid by customers.

There was equally a significant peak in renewable energy projects as many were turning to it for succor due to increased petroleum prices and utility power tariffs. The Federal government also launched its solar power strategy to electrify 5 million homes with solar power. We saw a heightened commitment to gas utilization, with the Central Bank introducing the N250bn intervention facility to stimulate investment in the local gas value chain.

The Minister of Petroleum for State, Chief Timipre Sylva had also promised that gas-powered cars would begin operating in October 2020. In his words “The alternative we are now introducing is gas, which is definitely going to be cheaper than the subsidised rate of PMS”.

READ: Could lack of power supply be hindering Nigeria’s COVID-19 recovery?

He went on to say that Nigerians were urged to convert their cars to dual fuel. Four months later, we are yet to see any auto gas cars ply our roads. There were also very swift moves to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) last year, and indeed many stakeholders waited expectantly for it, but the legislature failed to deliver.

Soon, the Federal Government launched the Nigerian Gas Expansion Program at the tail end of Q4, a month after the news of the country officially entering recession broke. The aim of the Program was to increase gas development from three streams- Liquefied Natural gas (LNG,) Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

With initial reports of a vaccine rollout, the oil price that had crashed to lower than $30 per barrel last year began a steady and somewhat magical rise and currently has gone as high as $67, with predictions that it could rise to as much as $100, particularly with the release of more vaccines and easing of lockdown.

READ: Dangote Group kicks off $150 million solar project

With things looking good for the country again, we see a return of the petroleum subsidy in the locked pricing of petrol. A return of fuel subsidy means heavily increased subsidy payments for the country and similarly an increased propensity for corruption and misuse of funds which has characterized Nigeria’s subsidy regime for long. We cannot claim to have learned much as a country if we think all is well, and we are out of the woods.

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It would be counterintuitive to wait on another oil shock to begin to quickly diversify our portfolio and heavily invest in gas and renewables. Like the Biblical story of Joseph and Pharaoh, we should save during our “seven fat years” for the “seven lean years”.

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This is not the time for Nigeria to sit back and gloat in its rising oil fortunes, but a time to invest in improving energy access for its citizens by funding renewable energy research, aggressively supporting a solar drive, entering into public-private partnerships for gas development and providing incentives for businesses working in the energy transition space. Perhaps climate change and the decisions made around it will be the next price cruncher for oil. Whichever way, we cannot afford not to be battle-ready.

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5 successful ways to increase profits in your business

Constantly working on these areas of your business, you are more likely to have raised profits.

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Development Bank of Nigeria , Companies Allied Matters Act (CAMA)

Most business owners are required to make certain changes to their business operations to achieve more profits. It is a fact that it is not possible to raise the profits directly, therefore, you need to increase them indirectly. It is not going to be possible without having a specific strategy in place. The only thing that is possible is improving the variables of your business and this can lead to an increase in profits and a higher bottom line.

Lead generation and conversion

A process that is used for attracting interested prospects to the business is lead generation. Suppose five people out of the ten coming to your business place end up purchasing the product or services from your business, you can try to raise the number of people coming to the business to fifteen. This allows you to make more money by increasing the profits by 50%. Lead conversion is a process used for converting the leads into paying customers. It is a measure of the effectiveness of your sales efforts. If it is possible to raise the conversion rate from 1 out of 10 to 2 out of 10 it is likely to double the sales figures and get you raised profits. There is no replacement for continuous sales training sessions. It applies to the owner and everyone that speaks to the clients.

READ: How scammers use SIM cards to rob your bank accounts

 Transactions

The number of independent sales you make to the customers you have acquired can be increased by raising the frequency of the purchases by say ten percent. You will thereby increase the number of sales and also rise profits by the same amount. Think about the things you could do for getting your existing customers to purchase more from your business and also make these purchases frequently. The size of the transaction and the profit you make from every one of them matters as well. You need to be on the lookout for ways of up-selling all the customers so that this person will buy more every time.

Profit margins

Profit margins could be the gross profits you make from all the sales of products or services. By finding out the ways of raising the price or lowering the cost of making the product and services without reducing the quality you will be able to raise the profits per every sale. All the money you save while holding the costing constant flows straight to the business bottom line as profit. Every time you decrease the expenses and at the same time, if you can hold the sales and revenues constant, money is going straight to your pocket as net profit.

Reach a global audience

In the modern scheme of things, all cities are turning into global economies. Therefore language translation services can be used for increasing the profits of any business big or small. It might be a good idea to translate the content on your website to reach a global audience. The global language services industry is rising quickly and can touch a figure of $50 billion by the end of the year. Most of these services these days are used by both private and government sectors alike. With rising globalization, the demand for translation is also increasing.

Customer acquisition costs

Consider the amount of money you have to spend to acquire every paying customer. You need to continuously be on the lookout for creative ways of improving your promotion and advertising so that there is a reduction in the money you have to spend to get a new customer. This will have a positive effect on the profits of your business. You can also try to increase the number of customers that come to you as a result of referrals from your existing satisfied customers. Developing single or multiple referral systems can impact the business positively and in turn, can help in making more money for your business.

Conclusion

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When you are constantly working on these areas of your business seeking improvement in all of them, you are more likely to have raised profits. You will make more money and it will contribute to the success of your future financial endeavours.

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