Two nabbed with adulterated cooking oil in Borno

Falling oil price’ll definitely affect 2017 budget – Kachikwu

BY Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

The crash in crude oil price to about $42.5 per barrel and the likely cut in production by Nigeria should the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries ask the country to do so will definitely affect the 2017 national budget, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has said.

He also stated that Nigeria would support all measures put in place by OPEC to ensure crude price stability globally, not minding if the cartel asks the country to cut down its oil production volume.

Kachikwu stated this at a press conference held at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources in Abuja on Wednesday.

When asked if the crash in crude oil price and the likely call by OPEC for a reduction in Nigeria’s oil production would impact the implementation of the country’s 2017 budget, the minister replied, “In terms of the budget impact, definitely.

“But like you know, the Ministry of Finance is looking for ways to cover some of this shortfall and part of that is efficiency, like how to cut down our expenditures. So the budget will be impacted.

“But we are working hard at the Federal Executive Council to see how we can forecast or predict that sort of impact in order to see how we can cover them.”

The minister stated that Nigeria was currently producing 1.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, outside the volume of condensates produced by the country.

On the likely production cut by Nigeria, he said, “Serious members of OPEC will support the cuts when we are sure that we can have a stable and predictable production. Yes we’ve got 1.7 million barrels production daily, but it is still below the 1.8 million barrels used as benchmark for us at OPEC.

“But the reality is that this is a very difficult terrain and we’ve got to watch it for a couple of months to be sure that what you see is quite sustained. We will ultimately find stability in this market. Nigeria will do whatever it takes to help that stability.”

Kachikwu expressed hope that oil prices might stabilise later this month or in August, adding that conversations with other OPEC members would determine to what extent Nigeria would have to support in stabilising crude prices globally.

“I’m sure that by the time I have conversations with my other colleagues, we will determine at what timeframe we will see Nigeria coming in with a lot more predictive analysis of what our market is looking like and what we need to do to further help. Hopefully by then, we would have been out of the price uncertainties that we are seeing today,” he added.

On Tuesday, The PUNCH reported that Nigeria and Libya might be asked to cap their crude oil output soon in an effort to help re-balance the market, as the two countries had boosted oil production since they were exempted from the global cuts led by the OPEC and other producers.

Culled from PunchNG

Change of name won’t affect operations – Etisalat Nigeria

Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. trading as Etisalat Nigeria on Tuesday informed its customers that the change of brand name will not affect its operations.

The Vice President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, EMTS, Mr Ibrahim Dikko, in a statement said that EMTS was aware of recent news reports regarding Etisalat Group’s withdrawal of the right to the continued use of the Etisalat brand in Nigeria by EMTS.

He said that EMTS had a valid and subsisting agreement with the Etisalat Group.

According to him, the agreement entitles EMTS to use the Etisalat brand notwithstanding the recent changes within the company.

“Indeed, discussions are ongoing between EMTS and Etisalat Group pertaining to the continued use of the brand.

“EMTS will issue a formal statement once discussions are concluded.

“The final outcome on the use of the brand in no way affects the operations of the business as our full range of services remain available to our customers,’’ he said.

Dikko said that EMTS launched in Nigeria in 2008 with “0809ja’’ to affirm the “Nigerianness’’ of its origin and sphere of influence.

He said that in nine years of operation, the company remained a prime driver and avid supporter of the Nigerian spirit of excellence.

According to him, the telecommunications company will continue to stay true to its “Naijacentric identity’’.

“This notion is strongly reflected in our core messages and depicted in major projects and initiatives, which we have been known to support.

“All these initiatives have their foundation embedded in supporting key aspects of the Nigerian fabric: building Nigerian businesses and empowering Nigerians with a focus on the youth.

“Nigeria remains the soul of EMTS’ business and we have made the brand alluring to our teeming subscribers, who see a piece of the spirit and character of Nigeria in everything we do.

“EMTS is here to stay and we wish to assure our esteemed customers that our core values of youthfulness, customer-centricity, and innovation will remain the pillars on which we operate.

“We thank our esteemed customers for their abiding faith in us,’’ Dikko said.

Since the month of March, Etisalat Group has been having the issues with the consortium of 13 banks over the payment $1.2bn loan.

The group had on Monday given Etisalat Nigeria three weeks ultimatum to stop the usage of its brand name.


Germany’s Siemens Says Russian Partner Violated Crimea Sanctions

One of Germany’s biggest companies said Monday that it had become an unwitting pawn in a scheme to evade sanctions against Russia and break a de facto blockade of electricity to the annexed territory Crimea.

The company, Siemens, a giant engineering and electronics conglomerate based in Munich, said a Russian customer had illegally shipped two power plant turbines to Crimea instead of their intended destination in southern Russia. The diversion of the turbines flouted what Siemens said was an agreement not to violate sanctions imposed by the international community after Russia annexed the territory from Ukraine in 2014.

The incident threatens to strain relations between the countries, just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany hosted a contentious meeting of world leaders in Hamburg, attended by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The Russian customer, Technopromexport, has close ties to the Kremlin.

The incident also demonstrates how energy has become a weapon in Russia’s continuing struggle with Ukraine, Crimea’s main source of electricity until the conflict interrupted supplies. Moscow had apparently become so desperate to solve an acute power shortage that it was willing to risk inflaming tensions with Germany.

“Russia-E.U. relations are already not in a good place, not least because there seems to be no pathway for E.U. sanctions easing at this point,” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia Group, a political consultancy. “In this light, this is going to be seen as something of a provocative act by Russia and will further deteriorate relations between Berlin and Moscow.”

The dispute will also do nothing to encourage foreign investment or repair Russia’s reputation as a place where contracts are often ignored, property is subject to arbitrary seizure and there is little legal recourse.

Siemens has been one of Russia’s most reliable foreign investors. It has done business in Russia since the rule of the czars and usually avoids saying anything to offend the government.

But abandoning any pretense of diplomacy, Siemens said it would begin criminal and civil proceedings in Russia against those responsible for what it called the fraudulent export of the turbines. The unusually sharp statement on Monday followed news reports about the violations, from what the company called “reliable sources.”

Siemens also said it had been lied to by its Russian customer. Technopromexport had repeatedly reassured Siemens that the turbines would not be sent to Crimea, Siemens said.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, said Monday that the turbines had been made in Russia from Russian parts and were not subject to sanctions restrictions. According to Siemens, the turbines were made in Russia with a Russian partner but by contract subject to the sanctions.

“This development constitutes a clear breach of Siemens’s delivery contracts, which clearly forbid our customer from making deliveries to Crimea,” Siemens said.

While hurt by sanctions, Russia has been in a prolonged economic slump mostly because of low oil prices. Crimea is different. The peninsula, isolated and contested, is under a stricter regime, and electricity in particular has been politicized.

In 2015, Ukrainian nationalists blew up electrical pylons, and rolling blackouts ensued, embarrassing the Russian government by illustrating its dependence on Ukraine to keep everything, including trolley buses and hospitals, running.

Russia quickly unspooled an undersea cable, but it met only part of the region’s demands. Ukraine then tried to write its claims to sovereignty into a new electrical supply contract, again rubbing in Russia’s inability to power up Crimea.

OPEC may ask Nigeria, Libya to cut output

Nigeria and Libya may be asked to cap their crude oil output soon in an effort to help re-balance the market, the Kuwait Oil Minister, Issam Almarzooq, said on Wednesday.

The two countries have boosted oil production since they were exempted from the global cuts led by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers have invited the two African nations to their committee meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 24 to discuss the stability of their production, Bloomberg quoted Almarzooq as saying on the sidelines of an energy conference in Istanbul.

Almarzooq is chairman of the committee monitoring the compliance of OPEC and non-OPEC suppliers with output cuts that started in January and later extended to March 2018.

“We invited them to discuss the situation of their production. If they are able to stabilise their production at current levels, we will ask them to cap as soon as possible. We don’t need to wait until the November meeting to do that,” he said.

Crude price sank into bear territory last month amid concerns the cutbacks by OPEC, Russia and other allies are being partially offset by a rebound in supply by Libya, Nigeria and United States’ shale output. Libya and Nigeria were both exempt from the cuts due to their internal strife.

The two countries came into focus after they seemed to resolve some of the political challenges that had slashed their production. Libya’s oil output has climbed to more than one million barrels per day for the first time in four years. Nigeria’s production rose 50,000 bpd in June, according to a Bloomberg survey.

“Capping Libya and Nigeria might help but won’t cut the supply by much,” Abdulsamad Al-Awadhi, a London-based analyst and Kuwait’s former representative to OPEC, said on Monday by phone.

“OPEC needs to have better compliance, and it must respect the right of Libya and Nigeria to go back to the market. Other countries that raised output while Libya and Nigeria are out should do more and give space to these two countries to go back to the market.”

Giving Libya and Nigeria exemptions to production cuts was a collective decision, and any proposal to include them in OPEC’s plans will also require a joint decision, the Secretary-General, OPEC, Mohammed Barkindo, told reporters at the event in Istanbul. He said it was still too early to discuss steeper cuts by the group and its allies.

The OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee will discuss the impact of the output curbs on the market at the July 24 meeting, Kuwait’s Almarzooq said. Deepening the reductions under the current agreement is not on the agenda, he said.

“It is too early to discuss deeper output cuts by OPEC/non-OPEC producers participating in the agreement to curb production,” Almarzooq said. “We just finished the meeting in May and we need to give it more time.”

CBN injects $142.5m into foreign exchange market

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday injected $142.5m into the inter-bank foreign exchange, days after intervening in the retail segment of the market with $254.3m.

The spokesperson of the apex bank, Mr Isaac Okorafor, in a statement, said the CBN would continue to carry out its regular mediation in the market to keep the market liquid and guarantee the international value of the naira in line with its mandate.

A breakdown of Monday’s intervention indicates that the Bank offered $100m to dealers in the wholesale segment, while it allocated $23m to the Small and Medium Enterprises segment.

Also, for those requiring foreign exchange for invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments, business and personal travel allowances received $19.5m.

Okorafor said the CBN would not relent in ensuring transparency and efficiency in the sale of Forex.

According to him, the Bank has mandated dealers to make public their forex utilisation.

He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to continually play their roles to guarantee transparency in the market.

The CBN last Friday intervened in the retail segment of the forex market to the tune of $254.3m following bids received from forex dealers by the Apex Bank.

The figure sold by the Bank was for companies in the raw materials, agricultural, airline and petroleum industry.

Meanwhile, the naira maintained its stand at the Bureau de Change segment of the forex market, exchanging at an average of N364 to a dollar in Abuja.


Mines and Steel ministry eyes N9.7tn contribution to GDP

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development says it will contribute $27bn about (N9.7tn) to the Gross Domestic Product by 2025.

The ministry stated this in its Road Map in Abuja on Sunday, adding that the contribution would be achieved in three phases.

It said that the phase one was to stabilise the sector and rebuild the country’s market confidence between 2016 and 2018.

According to him, the second phase will focus on establishing Nigeria as a competitive African mining and mineral processing centre from 2016 to 2020.

The ministry said the third phase would enable Nigeria to compete in the global market for refined metals and minerals from 2018 to 2030 in addition to selected ore exportation.

It said that at the end of the third phase, Nigeria would have built a sustainable, globally competitive mining sector and related processing industry.

The ministry expressed the commitment to use the finite mineral resources in the country to improve the quality of life of Nigerians and earn healthy returns for the mining investor.

The ministry said its ambition was to be consistent with the tone set for national development expected to create the right conditions for minerals and mining success in the coming decades.

“If well executed, the ambition, combined with a realistic plan can unlock value for the Nigerian people with the potential to contribute to the GDP through its significant multiplying effect,” it said.


Nigerians have devise strategies to evade tax – Adeosun

There is currently a systemic breakdown of compliance with the tax system with various strategies used by citizens to evade tax obligations, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said.

She said the country’s low tax revenues were at variance with the lifestyles of a large number of the citizens and with the value of assets known to be owned by Nigerians resident all over the world.

Some of the strategies being devised by some Nigerians to evade tax, according to her, include transfer of assets overseas, use of offshore companies in tax havens to secure assets, and the registration of assets in nominee names.

She said this in a statement while commenting on the newly launched Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme.

The VAIDS was put in place for defaulting taxpayers to work out a flexible way to pay their outstanding tax liabilities relating to the last six relevant tax years, regularise their transactions and obtain genuine tax clearance certificates for all the relevant years without fear of criminal prosecution for tax offences and with the benefit of forgiveness of interest and penalties.

The scheme offers a nine-month window to allow Nigerians, who may have evaded tax, whether ignorantly or deliberately, in the past six years, the opportunity to do their civic duty and pay the correct taxes, thereby avoiding criminal prosecution at the expiration of the scheme.

It embraces all federal and state taxes such as Companies Income Tax, Personal Income Tax, Petroleum Profits Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duties, Tertiary Education Tax, Technology Tax, tenement rates, and property taxes. It also covers all back taxes for the last six years in line with the statutory periods of limitation under the relevant tax statutes.

Adeosun stated, “The Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme is specifically targeted at taxpayers who have not been fully declaring their taxable income/assets; have not been paying the taxes due at all; have been underpaying or under remitting; are under a process of tax audits or investigations with the relevant tax authority; are engaged in tax disputes with the relevant tax authorities but are prepared to settle the tax dispute out of court; are new taxpayers who are yet to register with the tax authorities; and are existing registered taxpayers who have new disclosures to make.

“It does not matter whether the relevant tax default arose from undeclared assets within or outside the country. If tax should have been paid, the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme is providing a once in a lifetime opportunity to declare the tax outstanding and resolve it definitively.”

Contracts: FIRS, AGF collaborate to deduct VAT at source

The Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Tunde Fowler, says the agency has collaborated with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies remit tax revenues promptly.

This, he said, was achieved through the implementation of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, which ensures that Value Added Tax and Withholding Tax were deducted from source on all Federal Government contracts.

Fowler said this was part of moves by the Federal Government to drive tax revenue and enhance payment of taxes by all individuals and corporate bodies.

The FIRS chairman spoke in a keynote remark at the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria in Lagos on Friday.

“We have also improved collaboration with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to ensure that the MDAs remit taxes promptly through the implementation of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, which facilitates deduction and remittance of Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax on all contract payments at source,” he stated.

According to him, the service has considered the convenience, proximity and ease of tax payment by introducing the idea that taxpayers can now file tax returns at any of the FIRS offices nearest to them.

The move, Fowler, said had increased compliance considerably.

He noted that advertising was key to the realisation of the objective, describing it as “a major change in more than 60-year shift in tax operational rules.”

Commenting on the achievement of the agency, the FIRS boss said, “In 2016, the country celebrated the addition of N27bn to the national treasury from a novel idea; the waiver of penalty and interest programme. The FIRS offered tax amnesty to taxpayers in default of payment of taxes between 2013 and 2015.

“The tax defaulters were allowed to pay the actual taxes owed, while the penalty and interest were waived. This was with a proviso: that they declared their indebtedness, paid 25 per cent of the principal amounts and present payment plans on the outstanding tax liabilities, acceptable to the service.

“It is likely that some members of this respectable association or your clients would have benefited from the unusual and generous avenue, which relieved them of their tax burden under the programme.”

NSE wields big stick, suspends trading on equities of 17 firms (FULL LIST)

Investors on the equities of 17 companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, would not be able to trade or do any business with their stocks, as the stock market authority has suspended them till further notice.

The sanctions were imposed on the companies for failure to comply with the regulatory provisions of the law on corporate governance and extant post-listing guidelines.

The affected companies include African Alliance Insurance, Equity Assurance, Fortis Microfinance Bank, Guinea Insurance, Premier Paints, Resort Savings & Loans, Sovereign Trust Insurance, African Paints (Nigeria), Aso Savings & Loans, Ekocorp, Evans Medical, Goldlink Insurance, Great Nigeria Insurance, Omatek Ventures, Union Dicon Salt, Union Homes Savings & Loans and Universal Insurance Company.

The NSE said the companies failed to file their annual financial accounts and operational reports in line with the requirements in the listing rules at the Exchange.

The stock market authority said in a statement that the sanction would subsist till the companies comply with the demands of the guidelines.

As part of the post-listing regulations, quoted companies are expected to submit their audited financial statements not later than 90 days, or three calendar months with the Exchange.

They are also required to submit interim reports of their operations not later than 30 calendar days after the end of the relevant period.

Most of the quoted companies, including commercial banks, oil and gas companies, manufacturing firms, have since complied, filing the relevant documents on or before March 31 of the year.

On January 1, the NSE reminded quoted companies of the importance of complying with the regulation, warning that fines would be imposed on companies that fail to meet the deadline for the filing of their reports.

The exchange said new sanctions for delays in compliance would include fines ranging from N100, 000 to over N100 million.

With the suspension, investors in the affected companies would not be able to trade on their shares, including raising funds using such investments as collateral if the need arise.

Other companies that also delayed their financial statements and accounts risk possible suspension and delisting, apart from fines.

Facebook in talks to produce original TV-quality shows

Facebook Incorporated is in talks with Hollywood studios about producing scripted, TV-quality shows, with an aim of launching original programming by late summer, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The social networking giant has indicated that it was willing to commit to production budgets as high as $3m per episode, in meetings with Hollywood talent agencies, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Facebook is hoping to target audiences from ages 13 to 34, with a focus on the 17 to 30 range. The company has already lined up “Strangers”, a relationship drama, and a game show, “Last State Standing”, the report said.

Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company is expected to release episodes in a traditional manner, instead of dropping an entire season in one go like Netflix and, WSJ reported.

The company is also willing to share its viewership data with Hollywood, the report said.

Apple hired co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, earlier this month, to lead its video-programming efforts.

Apple began its long-awaited move into original television series last week, with a reality show called “Planet of the Apps”, an unscripted show about developers trying to interest celebrity mentors with a 60-second pitch on an escalator.

The company’s future programming plans include an adaptation of comedian James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment from his CBS Corporation show that will begin airing in August.