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MSME

FG needs to review regulation of small and medium businesses – Osinbajo

Osinbajo has stated that the government will improve the business environment for MSMEs in Nigeria by proper regulation.

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FG foreign reserves Nigeria Yemi-Osinbajo, FG negotiates with Governors on bail-out fund, as NEC approves 100 billion for NLTP, bail-out fund States Governors, FG earns N28.6 trillion from VAT, others , Ease of doing Business: States must partner with Federal Government – Osinbajo , AfCFTA: Nigeria’s financial footprints to be extended across Africa – Osinbajo , FG seeks partnership with National Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, here’s why , Osinbajo says FG’s investment to take advantage of Africa’s $200bn tourism potential is massive, Pres. Buhari’s plan to tax US tech companies might provoke US trade war https://www.yemiosinbajo.ng/vps-lecture-at-the-national-defence-college-course-28-lecture-event/ https://punchng.com/digital-firms-to-pay-tax-under-new-finance-act-osinbajo-2/ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/business/economy/digital-tax-oecd.html Nigeria at risk of trade war with United States as the Nigerian Government says it will impose taxes on technology companies like Facebook, Google, and other digital companies that have been escaping tax payment in Nigeria due to their lack of presence within the country. The US has threatened tariffs on imports from countries that impose such digital taxes. The tech companies with heavy revenue footprint in Nigeria now have their backs against the wall because President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration want to tax them to grow Nigeria’s revenue; which has led to the development of the Finance Act. The Finance Act is the solution of President Buhari to the revenue problem which the Finance Minister, Ahmad Zainab, said Nigeria has. The Nigerian government is looking to grow its revenue through taxes, and one of such is the digital tax which Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said will commence despite the threat of the US which is aimed at protecting the silicon companies. No more back door operation: Facebook, Google, Amazon, YouTube and many more digital businesses have a sizeable market in Nigeria, but don’t have a physical structure for their operations; this has cost Nigeria tax revenue. These companies are known to prefer situating their companies in tax havens where taxes are low compared to other African and European countries. Ireland and Bermuda are some of the tax havens for these multinational companies. But according to Osinbajo, the period of making gains from their operation in Nigeria without paying tax is over. Osinbajo, while speaking at The National Defence College, Course 28 Lecture Event, said that, “Let me also briefly mention the new provisions on Taxation of Digital Economy and Non-Resident Companies. This is a very important aspect of our taxation policy. Before the Finance Act, only companies that had a physical presence or a fixed base in Nigeria could be taxed. “So, most digital companies, I mean any of the big technology companies, or multi-national digital companies, that did not have physical offices in Nigeria, made significant income from Nigeria from online activities, such as advertising, movie streaming, online gaming and e-commerce from subscribers in Nigeria, but paid no taxes whatsoever because they did not have a physical base in Nigeria. So now we are no longer relying on the fixed base or physical address criterion.” He added that, “Under the Finance Act, once you have a Significant Economic Presence (SEP) in Nigeria, you are liable to tax. Whether you are a resident here or you are not resident as a company, as long as your economic presence is significant, you are liable to tax. If you are streaming online, advertising using Google adverts, whether you are resident here or not, you are now subject to tax. “So, non-residents who previously had no fixed base and no Nigerian tax liability will now be liable to tax based on the SEP criterion. The Minister of Finance is empowered to issue a regulation defining what Significant Economic Presence means. So, she just defines the scope of what we will be looking out for in terms of Significant Economic Presence.” Osinbajo explained. Nigeria is not alone in this crusade: Nigeria is not the only country trying to tax these technology companies. The European Union have also been coming after them for taxes. The EU is also stating that if the technology companies are making economic gains through their operation despite the lack of physical presence in several European countries, then the tech conglomerates should be taxed. This has led to review of tax laws by the EU. According to a report by New York Times, new rules to tax these multinational companies are being discussed by about 130 countries through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The review has become necessary as digital economy begins to open new revenue sources. Should Nigeria tread carefully? The United States has threated to hit any country imposing taxes on the technology companies - which are mostly American – with tariffs on import. This put Nigeria at a rather impossible position, as the country is not economically strong enough to enter a trade war or go on a tit for tat battle with the US. According to Q3 report, the US is the fifth biggest export destination for Nigeria, having imported N322.2 billion (6.28%) goods from Nigeria, with crude oil constituting N329.8 billion. Although, the US is behind Ghana, India, Netherlands and Spain, it doesn’t change the significance of the US market to the Nigerian economy. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s top import sources include the U.S, accounting for N747 billion in H1 2019. Franch had moved to tax the online businesses but have now delayed the plan this year after a meeting with the US; the US has also paused its tariff threat against France. Britain is also one of the digital tax drivers. With such threat hanging over the digital tax, it’s unlikely Nigeria will go ahead taxing these technology companies, as US feels such tax is discriminatory against US firms, and have suggested these companies be allowed to decide if they want to operate with the new tax standards., FG will provide succor for daily wage earners as lockdown continues – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has announced that Nigeria needs to take a second look at how Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are regulated, so as to improve the business environment for SMEs in Nigeria.

The Vice President disclosed this at the commissioning of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce Trade and Convention Centre on Monday.

READ: FG suspends issuance of Free Trade Zone licenses

He added that the FG has stepped in by reducing taxes for SMEs from 2021, and added that smaller levies paid by SME’s should be reviewed to make the businesses environment better.

“But I think that one of the drawbacks that we have had in improving the business environment is really with respect to how we regulate small businesses.

READ: FG proposes additional tax exemption for small businesses

“For example, in Abuja, I hear very frequently, small businesses which talk about the kinds of problems they experience -either with fumigation licences or one licence or the other— all manner of constraints which ideally should not occur.

“I know that the Minister of FCT is actively working with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment have been concerned about making this work.

READ: Nigeria’s foreign trade with US slumps as trade with China grows stronger

“But Abuja is just one example of how generally speaking, all over the country, we need to take a second look at how we regulate small businesses; we just need to take a second look,” Osinbajo said.

He cited the recent Finance Bill which has reduced most of the Federal tax rates to be paid by businesses, as all revenue below N25 million would be zero taxes.

READ: COVID-19: Over 70% of jobs lost in aviation, tourism industries in 2020 – AfDB

“If you look at all the proposed Finance Bill, there are several incentives for small businesses and I think this is where the private sector must work very actively with us in ensuring that we are self-regulators and policemen and women of the regulations.

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“I think the time has come for us to have a chamber of commerce paying very active attention to all that is going on in the MSMEs space especially with respect to regulation,” he said.

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READ: More than 40 SMEs in Lagos shut down due to economic crisis

What you should know about Osinbajo’s policy ideas

  • Nairametrics reported last month that Osinbajo stated that the country must create an enabling environment, post Covid-19, to attract local investments across the country.
  • Osinbajo also stated that the Federal Government has been willing to implement new ideas suggested in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) after the fallout of the pandemic on the nation’s economy.
  • Osinbajo said, “It is important to recognise that the pandemic, which really is the cause of the downturn, not just in the Nigerian economy but practically all of our economies, all over the world, except perhaps China, also provides incredible opportunities for doing all manner of very innovative and creative things”

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Columnists

How MSMEs can get easy access to finance

MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness.

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How MSMEs Can Get Easy Access to Finance

MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In 2019, they made up 90% of all registered businesses, contributed more than 50% of the country’s nominal GDP, and employ 84% of its labour force. Despite this, MSMEs were the recipients of less than 5% of all credit granted by the banking industry.

One reason for this is self-selection by MSME owners. Many MSMEs refuse to apply for loans from banks due to a fear of rejection and a belief that banks charge exorbitant fees and request hefty collateral before giving loans to MSMEs. Now more than ever, in this era of cashflow-based lending and low-interest rates, this harmful myth is costing businesses access to finance that they need to scale.

Another reason is the MSMEs’ lack of loan readiness. Unlike large companies, small business owners do not prepare themselves before applying for loans. This causes them to make many mistakes that discourage banks from lending to them due to a fear of non-repayment.

In order to overcome this hurdle and join large businesses in taking advantage of the low-interest climate, MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness:

1. Maintain financial records – Research shows that 69% of MSMEs in Nigeria do not keep detailed financial records. As a business owner, you must ensure that funds pass through your business account. Your business’s financial records as reflected in your bank statement will help your bank determine your repayment capacity. This is important, whether you want a collateral-free or collateral-based loan.

2. Use narrations for transfer into personal accounts – Again, always use your business account for business funds. However, if funds must be paid into your personal account for any reason, then ensure that those payments have a narration that reflects the purpose of the payment. For example, Two shirts purchased. This helps isolate business funds from personal when computing your turnover in order to determine your loan amount and repayment capacity.

3. Know what you want – Always know exactly how much you want and what you want it for. If your account officer asks you how much you want and you say “any amount you can give me”, they automatically assume you have no plan for the money or a plan for repayment. Before approaching your bank, determine how much you need and how much you can repay per month, using your monthly income.

4. Have a repayment plan – Always have a plan for repayment. Know how much you can afford to part with per month. Note however that your repayment plan might not align with that of the bank. Banks prefer not to take more than 33% of your monthly income in loan repayments, so your loan repayment period will probably be dependent on how much you can pay per month. Regardless, a well-thought-out repayment plan will build confidence in your repayment ability.

5. Engage your account officer– It is important to have an engagement with your account officer before applying for the loan. Instead of just writing a loan application letter to the bank and waiting for a response. Armed with your financial statement and your knowledge of how much you need and for how long, visit your account officer and have them work with you in getting your loan.


Ese Atakpu is a writer and banker.

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Commodities

AFEX raises $50 million to Finance Agri-SMEs in Nigeria

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the agric sector.

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AFEX to partner with FMDQ and Dubai Commodities Exchange, 50,000 farmers to benefit from AFEX Commodities agric funding initiative

AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), a private commodities exchange company, has announced the first Warehouse Receipt Backed Commercial Paper in Africa. The paper has tech-enabled operations and a 24-hour fast cash turnaround for borrowers.

This was disclosed by AFEX in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the Nigerian agricultural sector with a commodity-backed instrument – for the first time.

READ: AFEX partners FMDQ, Dubai Commodities Exchange to deepen markets opportunities

Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX, stated, “The AFEX financing deal will help eradicate the high cost of procurement incurred by processors by deploying a discounted value of a warehouse receipt distributed among five leading players in the Food and Beverage, Trading Poultry and Animal Feed segments in Nigeria.

“The receiving companies are top 10 players in their respective segments. They have now been enabled access to a tool for managing price volatility, enabling up to 30% direct savings on prices.

“With our vision to reach a cumulative total of over $5 Billion in investment to the agriculture sector over the next five years, this financing deal is right on track to achieve this goal.’’

He added that as AFEX move towards building a derivatives market in Africa, “we want to be able to reduce exposure to price risk for stakeholders, by enabling them to hedge their positions and trade in commodity derivatives.”

READ: CBN to increase loans to agricultural sector to 10% of total bank credit

Why it matters

  • The warehouse receipts, which can then be transferred from commodities to a financial asset and listed under the borrower’s portfolio on the AFEX trading platform, will create a sustainable funding structure and address underfunding in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
  • With the warehouse receipt system linked to financiers, the system allows financiers value and marks the commodities’ price to market on a real-time basis.

What you should know

  • AFEX’s mission is to provide low-risk working capital facility for stakeholders in the Agro sector, in a way that is transparent and has a very high viable investment return.
  • As a licensed commodities exchange and warehouse receipt system operator, it deploys a warehouse receipt system and collateral management infrastructure to increase market confidence for both lenders and borrower.

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