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Business

FG moves to recover N5.2 trillion debt owed by firms, individuals

Project Lighthouse has brought together data from FIRS, Customs, CAC, and CBN, in one central point.

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The Federal Government is set to recover about N5.2 trillion debt owed by some individuals and firms, as it has approved the second phase of the Project Lighthouse.

The project was approved by the VP Yemi Osinbajo-led Federal Executive Council on Wednesday. This was confirmed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, in a television interview after the council met.

Ahmed explained that the contract sum for the project awarded to Charterhouse Consulting was N316.5 million after the first phase was awarded to the company in May 2019.

READ: FG launches Passport Express Centre to help Nigerians get passport in 72 hours

What the Minister is saying

She said, “It is one major area that we have witnessed remarkable progress in terms of recovery of debt owed to government.

Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing and enforcement. So, this project Lighthouse shows that many companies and individuals who owe government agencies have refused to honour their obligations yet are still being engaged and transacted with and even being paid on governments payment platforms like the TSA.

The Ministry in 2019, issued a directive to all MDAs to aggregate and send to the ministry a list of all debtors and the outstanding amount they owe to all government agencies. This we have put together in one central point that we call Project Lighthouse.

READ: Would the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline succeed where the Trans-Saharan failed?

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Since that time, we have been able to aggregate N5.2 trillion worth of debt that are being owed government by third parties.

SSKOHN

As at today, we have been able to recover about N49.7 billion of this amount through the effort and working that we have been carrying out with Project Lighthouse and we are still compiling.”

According to her, the ministry was able to get land registry data from three states – the FCT, Kaduna State, as well as from Lagos state – while others would join in the second phase.

She added that the project had enabled the ministry to identify revenues that government could collect using the common platform.

READ: How much longer will players in the telecoms sectors suffer multiple taxations in Nigeria?

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What you should know

  • The Project Lighthouse is a data engine that collects, integrates and analyzes data from revenue-generating agencies in order to create insightful information for improved decision-making.
  • It has brought together data from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Corporate Affairs Commission, as well as data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, in one central point.

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Abiola has spent about 14 years in journalism. His career has covered some top local print media like TELL Magazine, Broad Street Journal, The Point Newspaper.The Bloomberg MEI alumni has interviewed some of the most influential figures of the IMF, G-20 Summit, Pre-G20 Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers, Critical Communication World Conference.The multiple award winner is variously trained in business and markets journalism at Lagos Business School, and Pan-Atlantic University. You may contact him via email - [email protected]

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Business

Lagos agricultural sector to generate $10 billion in the next 5 years

The agricultural sector in Lagos state is projected to generate as much as $10 billion within the next 5 years.

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The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has projected that the agricultural sector in the state could generate as much as $10 billion within the next 5 years.

This is as the governor noted that Lagos could no longer afford to rely exclusively on other states for its food, adding that it was time to unlock its immeasurable agricultural potential through the implementation of the 5-year roadmap.

This disclosure was made by the Governor at the formal launch of the state’s 5-year Agricultural and Food Systems Roadmap, on Thursday, adding that most of the investments would be private sector-driven while the government acts as the catalyst and enabler.

Governor Sanwo-Olu opined that the Roadmap would also lead to wealth generation, value creation, food security, the industrialisation of the agricultural sector and the entrenchment of inclusive socio-economic development of the state.

He said that the roadmap essentially focuses on 3 pillars, which are: growth of the upstream sector, growth of the midstream and downstream sectors as well as improvement of private sector participation.

What the Lagos State Governor is saying

Sanwo-Olu, in his words, said, “Our strategies for sustainable Agricultural Development shall focus on three pillars. First, we will grow the upstream sector through interventions by leveraging technologies that are capable of lowering the cost of production of value chains; Focus on growing the midstream and downstream sectors that are of value and lastly, we will improve on private sector participation by developing and initiating policies that will encourage more private investments in agriculture.”

The projection is that the total investment in the Agricultural Sector from the government, private sector, donor agencies and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years. While we expect most of the investment to be private sector-driven, the government will continue to provide the needed infrastructure while the private sector will be encouraged to lead the key projects.’

The governor pointed out that the state had already started the revamping of its Agricultural Land Holding Authority (ALHA) to support investment in agriculture, giving assurance that the coconut belt would also be strengthened with increased private sector involvement.

Sanwo-Olu listed some State’s landmark investments that will aid smooth delivery of the Roadmap to include the Lagos State Aquatic Centre of Excellence (LACE) that would boost fish production from 20% to 80%, the Imota Rice Mill, the Lagos Food Production Centre Avia, Igborosu-Badagry as well as other statewide agriculture-focused initiatives.

SSKOHN

He said, “I am greatly encouraged by the interest already generated in the Five-Year Agricultural Roadmap and I hope it will be sustained and backed with concrete action on the part of our development partners and the international community. I assure you that the Lagos State Government is putting in place deliberate incentives to make your investment safe, secure and profitable.’

Sanwo-Olu, therefore, urged potential and established stakeholders in the agricultural sector to partner with the state in order to transform the agricultural sector for food security, wealth generation, poverty eradication, economic diversification, rapid industrialisation and accelerated socio-economic growth.

Bottom line

This is a very laudable initiative from the Lagos State Government especially at a time the country is looking at diversifying its economy. The successful implementation of this programme with the expected benefits from the value chain will contribute significantly to the economic development of the state and the country in general.

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The investment in the transformation of agriculture to agribusiness is one way of achieving the dream of attaining self-sufficiency in food production and creating more wealth.

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Bank needs to humanise customers – Aladdin CEO

Every customer needs a unique page where their details go beyond the account numbers.

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Nigerian banks have been tasked to humanise all customers and not only treat them as just an account number. This is to say that banks should treat each customer uniquely and not assume a  one-size-fits-all.

These are the comments of the Chief Executive Officer, Aladdin Digital Bank, Darlington Onyeagoro. According to him, the continent, especially Nigeria needs a marketplace Digital Bank to humanise customers, a vacuum he said Aladdin will occupy.

He said, “By humanizing customers, we are putting a face to the name. You are not just an account number, you are a human being, and as humans, you need to eat, make money and other things.

“Each customer is unique; that is why for the first time, we are breaking barriers so we can reach each one personally. We run a platform structure where every customer has a unique page where their details go beyond the account numbers.”

He added that Aladdin Finance App, which is powered by PurpleMoney Microfinance Bank, will also be offering its customers free banking with no charge rates, where customers can carry out their transfers and transactions to other banks for free.

“Traditional banks charge N25 per transfer, but we are charging Zero Naira for now. We bear the cost for now. So, we offer free banking for at least between one to three months of our operation to encourage them. All transactions are free for now,” Onyeagoro added.

The app also has several features that will cater to each customer, including seamless customer service, rewards on savings, high-interest rates up to 16% (subject to money market reality), and access to different types of loans for emergencies.

To encourage savings for customers to meet their business and personal needs, Aladdin Bank will also be rewarding its customers through a weekly raffle draw on its online platform, where amounts saved from N5,000 and above with the bank will give each customer a virtual ticket for a raffle draw.

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“In that way, we are encouraging our customers to save towards their goals. For example, if you want to travel, pay your rent, children’s school fees, etc., whatever you want to do, you can set targets for yourself and save towards it. So, while you are saving towards your target, we are also paying you a competitive interest rate,” he added.

SSKOHN

What you should know

The co-founders and chief promoters of this project are Onyeagoro, Olayemi Nasiru and Avi Umukoro. Nasiru is a seasoned banker with over a decade of experience. He once held a Senior Management Position in one of the top commercial banks in Nigeria.

Umukoro, another top-flight banker, has over 12 years of consumer banking experience in one of the top-performing banks.

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