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Press zooms in on plans by gov’t to sustain subsidy on petrol till 2022, others

The report that the Nigerian government will sustain subsidy payment on petrol till 2022 and the sack of two ministers…

The report that the Nigerian government will sustain subsidy payment on petrol till 2022 and the sack of two ministers by President Buhari in a bid to reinvigorate the cabinet are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.The Guardian reports that the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, has said the Federal Government will sustain subsidisation of Premium Motor Spirit (popularly known as petrol) till 2022.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committees on Finance, National Planning, Foreign and Local Debts, Banking, Insurance and other financial institutions and Petroleum Resources on the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF-FSP) in Abuja, said the decision to exit the subsidy regime would be determined by the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the authorities and organised labour

Kyari, who acknowledged that an increase in the price of fuel would have a direct bearing on the wellbeing of the citizenry and national security, assured Nigerians that government would exit subsidising of product consumption once the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) becomes fully operational.

The NNPC boss spoke against the backdrop of his admission during a ministerial briefing at the Presidential Villa recently that his outfit pays between N100 and 120 billion monthly to keep the pump price of petrol at N162 per litre.

Acknowledging that the 60 million imported quantity was far above local consumption, the GMD added that the national oil firm was constrained by illicit product smuggling to neighbouring countries.

The newspaper says that in what came as a shock to many, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, relieved two ministers of their appointments. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, and his Power counterpart, Saleh Mamman, were sacked in a bid to reinvigorate the cabinet and consolidate legacy achievements, according to the President’s address during the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja.

The two ministers were sworn in August 2019 as part of the over 40 ministers who make up the current Federal Executive Council. Though the President did not reveal the rating of the sacked ministers, many Nigerians have constantly complained about the poor state of power and high price of food in the country.

The President, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the ministers were sacked after an independent and critical self-review of their performance, an important evaluation marking the beginning of a continuous process, which will see more members exit the cabinet.

President Buhari also hinted that the contributions of the ministers could be considered ‘weak.’ “These significant review steps have helped to identify and strengthen weak areas, close gaps, build cohesion and synergy in governance, manage the economy and improve the delivery of public good to Nigerians,” he added.

The Punch reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress has said it would call out workers on industrial action if the Federal Government implemented a proposed hike in electricity tariffs.

It reminded the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, about the agreement reached by between the Federal Government and Organised Labour Committee on Electricity Tariff on September 28, 2020.

The meeting had agreed to freeze further increases in electricity tariff until the committee concluded its work and its report adopted by all the principals in the committee.

The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, handed down the notice in a reaction to speculations that the 11 power distribution companies had received approval to slightly increase electricity tariffs with effect from September 1.

The hint came from an August 25 notification to customers from the Eko Electricity Distribution Company titled ‘Re: Tariff increase notification’, purportedly signed by the General Manager, Loss Reduction, Olumide Anthony-Jerome. The notice claimed that the approval was from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission. It read, “This is to officially notify you that there will be an increase in electricity tariff with effect from September 1, 2021.

The newspaper says that the Nigerian government has gazetted the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021. According to a reviewed copy of the gazette, the act will provide legal, governance, and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities, and for related matters.

The commencement of the act started on 16 August, 2021. According to the gazette, the host communities’ development trust for the benefit of the host communities for which a settlor is responsible must be incorporated within the next 12 months.

The act said that a host communities’ development trust shall be incorporated within 12 months from the effective date for existing oil mining leases.

It said, “The host communities’ development trust shall be incorporated within 12 months from the effective date for existing oil mining leases; within 12 months from the effective date for existing designated facilities.”

The trust will be funded by an annual contribution of 3 per cent of a company’s actual annual operating expenditure of its preceding financial year in the upstream petroleum operations affecting the host communities.

ThisDay reports that Nigerian Government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is considering entering into a fresh partnership with Japan in the area of technology that will boost local content development in Nigeria.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Bitrus Bako Nabasu, gave the hint in Abuja recently, while receiving the Ambassador-designate of Japan, His Excellency, Mr. Sadanabu Kusaote Umer and his entourage in his office, during a courtesy call.

Nabasu, who received the Japan Ambassador and his entourage on behalf of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, said it was a pleasure to have the Ambassador to interact with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy at a time like this when the ministry is working assiduously towards digitizing the country’s economy.

According to Nabasu, “The economy of Japan is being driven by modern technology, which will be of immense benefit for Nigeria to collaborate with the government of Japan to develop her digital economy sector, which will in turn increase her Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Sun says that the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has urged the Federal Government to suspend the implementation of the Federal Inland Revenue Sevice (FIRS) Tax Practice Direction Appeal, 2021, pending its revision.

The chamber, which made the call at its 3rd Council meeting, noted that following the direction by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the Council was of the firm view that if the Tax Practice Direction, which compels companies to pay 50 percent of assessed tax to FIRS before any appeal to contest the assessment is allowed to proceed, most businesses in the private sector will practically collapse.

The council explained that the resolution and call became necessary because feelers from the Organised Private Sector indicate that many businesses have been struggling to survive, as the unfriendly business environment has been made more difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Council was convinced that MSMEs which are currently the bedrock of the economy and provide most of the employment will certainly be most hard hit and will not and cannot survive the implementation of Practice Direction, some of which provisions requires enforcement and forfeiture of immovable property, freezing of a taxpayer’s bank account and sealing of their premises.

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