Tax Evasion: Reps Grill Shell, Total Energies, First Exploration – Business Post Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya
The House of Representatives on Wednesday intensified efforts towards getting answers from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Total Energies, and First Exploration and Production over alleged tax evasion.
The companies appeared before the ad hoc committee investigating the Structure and Accountability of the Joint Venture (JV) Business and Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited from 1990 to date.
The chairman of the panel, Mr Abubakar Fulata, frowned at the way the firms have been paying taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) Service, noting that the agency does not rely on the Stock Certificate of Crude Oil as well as the Certificate of Acceptance of fixed Assets (CAFA).
The committee said the Stock Certificates gave clearer pictures of the oil being lifted, while the CAFA certificate was the basis for capital allowances claims.
The leader of the Shell delegation, Mr Bashir Bello, said SPDC had been in operation since 1929 and promised to furnish the committee with the relevant documents being requested with the exception of the CAFA certificate.
The panel said Shell, Total, and First E & P were in violation of Nigeria law for making capital allowances claims without the CAFA Certificate.
The companies, in their separate submissions and presentations, said; indeed, they had been in operation and relying on Petroleum Tax Act (PT Act) to make capital allowance claims.
They claimed that the CAFA was domiciled with the Ministry of Industry.
The committee argued that it was not only the PT Act they were bound to obey, adding that they had no power to select which law to obey and which one not to obey.
The panel demanded that the oil companies, among other things, furnished the team with stock certificates, capital allowances enjoyed, and contributions to the NNPC-JV and PSCs Account.
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Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.
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By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has charged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to do more to deepen the country’s capital market so as to create wealth for citizens.
Speaking in Lagos on Thursday at the launch of the revised Capital Market Master Plan, she said, “Nigeria needs a capital market that broadens access to economic prosperity by enabling the emergence of financially responsible citizens, accelerating wealth creation and distribution, providing capital to small and medium scale enterprises, and catalysing housing finance.”
She noted that investor confidence remains one of the key ingredients that will accelerate the growth of the nation’s capital market and increase both domestic and foreign participation, assuring SEC of the continued support of the federal government to enable it effectively do its job of regulating and developing the ecosystem.
According to her, the capital market should be characterised by a high level of compliance with ethical standards, deep liquidity and sophistication, good corporate governance, and a strong domestic investor base.
“I consider the revised Capital Market Master Plan a veritable tool which the capital market must use as it drives key initiatives towards achieving the Country’s economic growth objectives,” the Minister, represented at the launch by the Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, said.
Mrs Ahmed said the implementation of the master plan was one of the key initiatives in the 40- Deliverable Presidential mandate of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
This, the Minister said, underscores the fact that capital market growth resonates with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s unwavering commitment to deepening and re-positioning the financial market as a key anchor to achieving a private-sector-led development of our economy, as emphasised in the National Development Plan (NDP) objectives.
“This administration and, especially my office, has supported the Capital Market Master Plan implementation efforts since inception.
“The master plan, which represents collective aspirations of the capital market community, is focused on driving initiatives geared towards growing and deepening the market with the ultimate goal of accelerating the emergence of our country in the top 20 global economies by the year 2025,” she said.
The Finance Minister commended the SEC, CAMMIC and the capital market community for their laudable achievements, especially in the areas of dematerialization of share certificates, e-Dividend Mandate Management System, facilitation of access to alternative investments like SUKUK, enhancing the commodities trading ecosystem, national savings strategy, demutualization of the NSE, and the ongoing review of the ISA among others.
According to her, “I am also aware of ongoing efforts on other initiatives like the direct cash settlement, introduction of derivatives, financial literacy, enhancing market liquidity, incentives for listings, growth of collective investment schemes and leveraging fintech solutions in the capital market.
“I assure you of the government’s support in all these efforts, and I am confident in your ability to successfully drive these initiatives to fruition.
“As you chart the course for the next phase of the Capital Market Master Plan’s implementation, I assure you of the federal government’s support and look forward to working with you to realize the plan’s objectives” she stated.
In his remarks, the DG of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, stated that the master plan was designed to chart a strategic direction while providing clarity of vision and a robust road map required to facilitate innovation, investment, growth and expansion of empowering opportunities in Nigeria and beyond.
He said, “Our vision is to be Africa’s most modern, efficient, and internationally competitive market that catalyses Nigeria’s economic growth and development.
“We believe the plan provides a solid roadmap for achieving this vision as we collaborate with other stakeholders to effectively drive its implementation.”
Mr Yuguda stated that the main objective of the review was to produce an updated version of the document primarily to: engage stakeholders on the current level of market development and opportunities for further capital market growth, review and update the assumptions and vision of the Capital Market Master Plan (CMMP) and develop targets for the various thematic areas of the CMMP, and introduce a Strategy Map and KPIs for the CMMP and use the balanced scorecard approach for performance measurement.
Other objectives the DG said are to align existing initiatives with new ones based on targets and strategic objectives; develop an implementation plan for initiatives with clear milestones, deliverables, timelines, resource requirements, and dependencies; identify challenges, opportunities and risks associated with the CMMP implementation and recommend ways of effective and more efficient implementation; and identify and incorporate new product ideas and initiatives to deepen and grow the Capital Market.
The DG commended Mrs Ahmed for her unwavering support and commitment to the implementation of the master plan and the development of our capital market; the Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSDA) for their partnership and funding support in the review of the Capital Market Master Plan; Dr Andrew Nevin and his team at PwC for a comprehensive and professional revision of the master plan; and CAMMIC, and the entire capital market community for providing valuable insights during the review process.
Mr Victor Nkiri, representing FSDA, said that the Nigerian capital market had gained prominence among its peers, having increased in size, depth and sophistication in terms of diversified products adding that the capital market continues to play a key role in the economy.
He said the revised CMMP would provide a blueprint for Nigeria’s capital market to remain up to date with emerging trends and future realities, even as it continues to attract increased local and foreign investors’ participation.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Capital Market Implementation Council, Prof. Kanyinsola Ajayi, said the vision to be Africa’s most modern, efficient, and internationally competitive market that catalyzes Nigeria’s economic growth and development is ambitious but achievable.
He said, “We will need to work together as a market, across the financial sector and with the Government to ensure we ease all bottlenecks and address policy gaps that will help unleash the power of the private sector to drive the market growth we all aspire for. We believe the Plan provides a solid roadmap for achieving this vision as we collaborate with all our stakeholders under the leadership of SEC.”
Represented by Dr Dotun Suleiman, Mr Ajayi said the revised master Plan has proposed changes to the implementation governance structure to make it more efficient, flexible and focused on providing positive for the market and all stakeholders. Consequently, I would like to implore the DG to ensure that this structure is fully implemented and manned as proposed.
By Adedapo Adesanya
The presence of long queues and crowds at bus stops across states indicate the biting reality of worsening petrol scarcity in the country.
In Lagos on Friday morning, Business Post gathered that prices of premium motor spirit (PMS) sold for as high as N230 in some filling stations and N250 litres at other stations.
Commercial bus drivers lamented the situation as they hiked the cost of bus fares, with commuters left with no choice but to acquiesce.
This development is coming as marketers, under the aegis of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), lamented that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited had refused to give its members products.
“NNPC refuses to give us fuel. We buy from third parties and can sell at any price because if the landing cost to our stations is N218 per litre, how much do you expect us to sell? So, the public should expect fuel at any price, depending on the area,” Mr Mike Osatuyi, IPMAN National Controller Operations, told The Punch.
On its end, the sole importer of the commodity, the NNPC, has kept mum with no official correspondence on the issue.
Following devastating flooding in parts of the country, analysts have warned that Nigerians must brace up for tough times ahead with increases expected in the cost of living.
Inflation figures released last week for the month of October 2022 showed a 21.09 per cent increase year-on-year, driven by increases in food prices and energy costs.
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has expressed confidence that the new Naira notes unveiled on Wednesday would make policies more effective as they will help to create macroeconomic stability, efficient payments system and confidence.
Two days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
Mr Emefiele, while speaking at the short event, thanked the President for his unwavering support for the redesign and distribution of the new notes, which he said would control inflation and also fight corruption.
He commended Mr Buhari for his insistence that the initial notes must be designed and produced within the country, further placing confidence in Nigerian Security Printing and Minting.
“Mr President, only a President of your esteemed and incorruptible stature, could have done what we are witnessing today,” he added.
The CBN Governor also noted that by international best practice, the redesign of notes should be every five to eight years, and the currency in circulation had been in usage for 19 years, with spiralling challenges on the economy, especially on security and counterfeiting.
He listed the benefits of the redesigned naira notes to include enhanced security, greater durability, attractiveness and promotion of rich cultural heritage.
On his part, the President stated that the “new Naira banknotes have been fortified with security features that make them difficult to counterfeit,” adding that the notes will help the central bank design and implement better monetary policy objectives as well as enrich the collective memory of Nigeria’s heritage.
Acknowledging that international best practice requires central banks and national authorities to issue new or redesigned currency notes every 5 to 8 years, the President noted that it is now almost 20 years since the last major redesign of the country’s local currency was done.
“This implies that the Naira is long overdue to wear a new look.
“A cycle of banknote redesign is generally aimed at achieving specific objectives, including but not limited to: improving the security of banknotes, mitigating counterfeiting, preserving the collective national heritage, controlling currency in circulation, and reducing the overall cost of currency management,” he said.
“As is known, our local laws, specifically the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007, grant the Central Bank of Nigeria the power to issue and redesign the Naira.
“In line with this power, the central bank governor approached me earlier this year to seek my permission to embark on a currency redesign project. I considered all the facts and reasons presented before me by the central bank.
“There was an urgent need to take control of currency in circulation and to address the hoarding of Naira banknotes outside the banking system, the shortage of clean and fit banknotes in circulation, and the increase in counterfeiting of high-denomination Naira banknotes. On this basis, I gave my approval for the redesign of the N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes.
“While this may not be apparent to many Nigerians, only 4 out of the 54 African countries print their currencies in their countries, and Nigeria is one. Hence, a majority of African countries print their currencies abroad and import them the way we import other goods.
“That is why it is with immense pride that I announce to you that these redesigned currencies are locally produced right here in Nigeria,” he noted.
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