FG Generated N269.79bn as VAT in Q1 2018 – NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has said that the sum of N269.79billion was generated as Value Added Tax, VAT in the Q1 2018, as against N254.10bn generated in Q4 2017 and N221.38bn in Q1 2017.

In its sectoral distribution of Value Added Tax (VAT) data for Q1 2018 released last night, the NBS said the figure represents 6.17% increase Quarter-on-Quarter and 21.87% increase Year-on-Year. Other manufacturing, the bureau said generated the highest amount of VAT with N30.14bn generated and closely followed by professional Services and commercial and trading both generating N16.58bn and N14.93bn respectively.

According to the report, mining generated the least and closely followed by pharmaceutical, soaps & toiletries and textile and garment industry with N46.25 mln, N243.44 mln and N285.43 mln generated respectively.

Out of the total amount generated in Q1 2018, N121.40bn was generated as non-import VAT locally, while N98.40bn was generated as non-import VAT for foreign.

The balance of N50.00bn was generated as NCS-Import VAT.

Apply Standards to Drive Digital Marketing, SON to Operators

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, has urged stakeholders in the e-commerce space to adhere strictly to standards in order to ensure safe and secure transactions, assurance of quality and consumer protection.

The Director-General, Osita Aboloma, stated this during a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos tagged ‘The role of standards and quality regulation in electronic commerce’.

The SON boss, who was represented by the Director, Corporate Affairs, SON, Dr. Paul Angya, noted that imbibing standards in e-commerce would go a long way in facilitating trade, promoting global competitiveness, economic growth and development.

According to him, e-commerce is a business on the rise, adding that it is crucial for the standardisation and regulation of the quality of products and services being traded through the cyberspace.

Ensuring safe and secure online platforms for sale of goods and services to enhance trade within Nigeria and across borders would ultimately increase the Gross Domestic Product of the nation, he noted.

Aboloma added that the promotion of awareness on standards and quality regulation in the e-commerce sector had become necessary as the drive for digitalised market places increased and the pressure on the standards community mounted.

He stressed that with the increasing volume of consumer complaints being received on the quality of products and services sold online, it had become necessary to have a robust regulatory framework in place to drive the e-commerce sector.

“For instance, products like mobile phones, electrical and electronic devices cannot be physically viewed and tested before purchase online while the claims on what they can do have been found in many cases to be inaccurate or sometimes outright false,” he said.

On his part, the Director-General, Consumer Protection Council, Babatunde Irukera, said that e-commerce was the way of the future, pointing out that technology was disrupting traditional commerce and trade.

He noted that as consumers were becoming more sophisticated, so also was the role of consumer protecting authorities all over the world to ensure that they were as dynamic as the sophistication of consumers.

He said, “What we believe at the CPC is that e-commerce platforms must capture the responsibilities of availing consumers with good quality for money spent.

“This is why the issues of returns, refunds and warranties are very important to us. We are in the process of writing new regulations with respect to returns, refunds and warranties while paying rapt attention to e-commerce with respect to that. We must find a way to promote e-commerce while at the same time promoting the interest and safety of the consumer.”

He said the challenge facing the e-commerce space was the nature of its ‘borderlessness’, stressing that there were jurisdictional issues on whether some of the online marketers were providing goods and services within the jurisdiction of the CPC.

The Director, Product Certification Directorate, SON, Tersoo Orngudwen, said that standards were global and that Nigeria must embrace standards as done everywhere in the world.

The President, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, Shola, Ajulo, said the forum was a welcome development, noting that Nigeria had caught up with the e-commerce business and possessed the skill required to ensure protection not just for physical markets, but the online markets.

“We want to address things such as warranties, refunds, returns, misleading adverts, because online marketers are taken undue advantage of. I am hoping that we would be able to have some checks and balances to make sure that the online market is safe,” she said.

ECOWAS Parliamentarians to Adopt New Strategy for Single Currency

Members of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are considering a new strategy that will allow member states to share a single currency.

The new measure will examine the level of preparedness of each member state, discuss and determine the baseline macro-economic requirement and structural convergence for economic and monetary integration that will lead to actualization of a common currency for financial transactions and trade facilitation in the sub-region.

In a statement by the Communications Adviser to the Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Nwajei Kanayo, said to take a decision on that, a one-day parliamentary workshop is billed to take place in Abuja in June.

The single currency programme has suffered a couple of setbacks with four successive postponements in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2015.

The workshop is expected to provide a forum for ECOWAS parliamentarians and other regional and international stakeholders and experts to examine the legal and institutional frameworks needed for a credible monetary union in ECOWAS and to identify legislative actions needed to promote a viable monetary union.

Expected at the workshop are members and officials of the ECOWAS Parliament, selected national parliaments in member states, ECOWAS Commission, West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), UEMOA Commission, Ministries of Finance of the Presidential Task Force member countries, among others.

ABCON Urges CBN to Review Exchange Rate Band

The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, ABCON, has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to review the exchange rate band at which Bureaux de Change buy dollars to align with commercial banks’ buying rate.

According to ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, BDC operators buy dollars from International Money Transfer Operators as directed by the CBN at N360/$ and sell at N361.5/$ whereas commercial banks buy at N357/$ and sell at N360/$.

Gwadabe, at a press briefing in Lagos, urged the CBN to merge the BDCs and bank rates to achieve market harmony and a level playing field for all stakeholders.

According to him, the underlying market intrigues and political anxieties in the country are pointers that the CBN needs to listen to ABCON’s demand and merge both rates in the interest of the naira and economy.

He said, “The losses being recorded in the equities market where over N700bn has been lost in recent weeks, as well as speculative tendencies among big foreign exchange players, will continue to constitute big threat for exchange rate stability.

“The rising naira liquidity, high demand for dollars in the travel seasons, payment for school fees for students studying abroad and rising forex demand at the retail end of the market remain big concerns for exchange rate stability.”

Gwadabe said the stability at the Investors’ & Exporters’ Forex Window and the BDC subsector would continue to boost investors’ confidence in the economy and improve capacity in the manufacturing sector.

He said some of the decisions of the CBN had helped to stabilise the naira and the forex market.

According to him, some of the decisions include a cycle of monetary tightening to rein in inflation, and external reserves management through the restriction of foreign exchange for goods that can be produced in Nigeria.

“The CBN also introduced various policies to eliminate foreign exchange speculators, bettors, round-trippers and rent-seekers and these have stabilised the naira and brought stability to the foreign exchange market,” he said

FG to Advance Agriculture, Health Care Through ICT

The Federal Government has stated that the country was set to leverage on the potential in Information and Communications Technology to advance its economy, agriculture and improved health care.

According to the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, Nigeria is also prepared to join the rest of the world to mark this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Shittu said the essence of the celebration was to raise awareness of the potential of ICT to advance economies and bridge the digital divide in the country.

He stated that analysts had predicted that intelligent machines programmed to think and reason like the human mind would revolutionise health care in the very near future.

His words, “The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other Information and Communications Technologies can bring to societies and economies, as well as ways to bridge the digital divide.

“Artificial Intelligence-based technologies are already emerging as a key component of proactive tools and applications being used to help people lead better lives by improving health care, education, finance, agriculture, transportation and a wide range of other services.”

Shittu noted that this year’s celebration, which has the theme, ‘Enabling the positive use of Artificial Intelligence for all’, would focus on the potential of artificial intelligence to accelerate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

He said, “Artificial intelligence or AI is taking centre stage with a lot of on people’s lives. AI’s potential power is being exploited and developed at an unprecedented speed. AI brings us many opportunities and challenges. AI will greatly change our economy and society.

“Government, through the Ministry of Communications, is poised to support stakeholders in Nigeria’s ICT ecosystem to create and strengthen a national AI ecosystem for sustainable development.”

He added, “Government will include Artificial Intelligence and coding in our educational agenda. With this, our youths will be put on the right path as ICT and AI would have deeply affected the ways we labour and relate with one another in the fourth industrial era.

“The cars, satellites, computers, planes and phones of today were built by the children of yesterday; those of tomorrow will be built by children of today.”

Shittu noted that this year’s celebration would be held next week at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State.

Setting Up Online Bill Payment

Online bill pay can help you manage your bills without having to worry about paper bills and cheques. This article covers the various types of online bill pay and how you can quickly and easily start using the service. Once you’re up and running, you can spend more time on the better things in life, according to www.thebalance.com.

Setting things up is easy. First, we’ll want to make sure we know what types of online bill pay you really have available, and then we’ll run through the process.

Types of online bill pay;

Several different services are described as online bill pay:

Online bill pay offered by your bank

Online bill pay offered by your service providers (phone company, mortgage company, etc.)

The first type (online bill pay offered by your bank) is a service that sends money out of your bank account to whoever you wish. In many cases, these online bill pay services will actually print a cheque and mail it to the recipient. If the company you want to send payments to is setup within the bank’s system, the bank will simply transfer the money electronically when you use online bill pay (no cheque will be issued).

To set up this type of online bill pay, you will probably just need a copy of the bill that your service provider sends you. Set up a new payee in the name of that company at your bank’s website. Copy the address and your account number, along with any other information needed to make a payment.

Each time you want to pay, you will enter the amount of the bill, and you’re done. The bank will print and mail a cheque that will pull money from your account.

To be safe, you should double-check with your payees; see if they have specific instructions for receiving payments via online bill pay. Some payees will not recognise the cheque (because it was printed by the online bill pay service – it isn’t their standard return mail piece).

They may ask you to use an alternate address, or they may provide other instructions. As an alternative to asking for instructions, you can try to send a payment and see how things go – do it well before your payment’s due date so you can pay another way if necessary.

The second type of online bill pay (online bill pay offered by your service providers) is a service that will only allow you to pay one company (your phone company or auto insurer, for example).

To set up online bill pay with the phone company, you will need to provide a voided cheque and an authorisation form to the phone company (or you might be able to provide your current account information online). The process is very similar to direct deposit, but they call it online bill pay or ACH debit.

To get things set up, you will need to know where to find your account number and routing numbers for your current account. Once things are up and running, payment goes directly to your service provider.

Automatic online bill pay

If you really like to automate things so that you don’t have to think about them, you can automate online bill pay. Almost all online bill pay services will allow you to set up recurring payments. For example, you can have the online bill pay service take care of your phone bill every month or your insurance every quarter.

Another way you can let online bill pay run on auto-pilot is to allow your service providers to pull money out of your account without you having to click anywhere. In other words, the service provider just “asks” the online bill pay company for payment and the payment is made without any activity on your part. If you authorise these types of payments, make sure you have a good handle on your budget and available funds.

Building a Lean, Efficient Business Plan By Ozioma Ubabukoh

The concept of the lean start-up, developed by entrepreneur Eric Ries, looks at how product development cycles can be shortened and businesses can run more efficiently by continuously measuring progress and feedback. This philosophy is particularly relevant when it comes to thinking about your business plan.

In business, it is the continuous planning process that matters. Your business plan, like your business, is a living, evolving, flexible thing. It requires rapid changes and fact-based decision making. I like the body metaphor implied by the term. Lean doesn’t just mean thin; it also means healthy, muscular and efficient. Here five ways to help make your business plan leaner:

1. Make strategy the heart of your plan

Strategy is focus – focus on specific target markets using specific products or services. Your strategy is based on some strength or characteristic that links you to your preferred buyers and the solutions you offer them. It defines how you want to set your business apart from the crowd. Strategy isn’t text – it’s concepts. You can summarise strategy in bullet points, using charts or even with a series of images.

To test your strategy statement, read it and ask yourself whether it describes your unique business or could be applied to many others. Is it specific enough to be implemented? Does it define a market, product and branding focus? While everything in a business plan is subject to change, the strategy changes more slowly than the rest of the plan in response to changing conditions.

2. Summarise more, elaborate less

Your business plan is held up by eight key core concepts: market, product or services, production, marketing, sales, distribution, management and finance. A fat business plan describes each of these key areas in elaborate detail. Lean business planning means using more bullets and less text. It refers to trends and ongoing assumptions as economically as possible, explaining them in detail only where the detail isn’t already understood.

3. Track progress and manage course corrections constantly

Track your progress with lists and tables full of numbers that you can use to course correct. This is lean to the extent that it’s specific, concrete and measurable. The most important part of this is a list of milestones. These are scheduled achievements and activities, each of which ought to have dates, budgets, performance measurements, expectations for spending and sales and specific assignments for task responsibilities.

Aside from these milestones, good planning also needs regularly updated projections of sales, costs, expenses and cash. The projections should be just detailed enough to offer good plan-verses-actual analysis for better management. For example, monthly projections are probably essential for at least the next six months, and usually 12 months is better; but monthly projections beyond a year are most often a waste of time. The goal isn’t guessing right (which never happens) but rather laying out the probable results and connecting the dots (like expenses to sales) so you can track progress and make useful changes.

4. Dress up your plan with descriptions

Descriptions you use to dress up your plan depending on the audience might include market details, technical or scientific background, company history, bios of the management team, generic market research, proof of concept and competitive analysis. Like clothes, you make these descriptions appropriate to the occasion. For example, you might need to prove a market to assure investor or to prove financial stability to assure bankers.

5. Be consistent about updates

Planning for a startup is a lot like diet and exercise. Business planning is a process, not an event. Like diet and exercise, the key to staying lean is regular repetition over a long time to generate real positive benefits. You don’t do it once, or even once in a while. You review and revise your plan regularly.

PMB Promises to Ensure Stability in West Africa

President Muhammadu Buhari, has promised that his administration will continue to work with member-countries of the Economic Community of West African States to ensure stability in the sub-region.

Buhari said the collaboration became necessary as cross-border crimes pose more challenges to people and governments in the sub-region.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke while receiving Letter of Credence from the Ambassador of Guinea Bissau, Mr. Henrique Da Silva, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“ECOWAS is doing its best, and as you know, Nigeria is fully involved in the process of restoring stability in Guinea Bissau,” the President was quoted as saying.

Buhari said the relationship between Nigeria and Guinea Bissau had always been healthy, noting that as the country regains its stability, there would be more room for improvement.

The President, who also received Letter of Credence from the Ambassador of Thailand, Mr. Wattana Kunwongse, said Nigeria and Thailand had a lot to share in the ongoing effort to diversify the economy, with focus on the agricultural sector.

“Our relationship has been very long and very commendable. We appreciate the help we get in agriculture from Thailand and we will keep working together,” he said.

In his remarks, the Ambassador of Guinea Bissau said his country remained grateful for all the support it received from Nigeria during the prolonged political crisis.

“We are very grateful for your commitment to ensuring peace in Guinea Bissau and your soldiers have been in our country to ensure stability,” the Ambassador said.

The Ambassador of Thailand said Nigeria’s position as a “regional power’’ puts it in the spotlight for the recovery and stability of Africa.

“Under your leadership and guidance, we believe the economy will recover and the entire country will be strengthened,” he said.

BREAKING: Buhari, Ali Modu Sherrif Meet Inside Aso Rock

President Muhammadu Buhari is currently meeting with a former National Chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Ali-Modu Sherrif, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting is holding behind closed doors inside the President’s office.

Sherrif who is a former governor of Borno State had last year met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

He lost the battle for the chairmanship of the PDP at the Supreme Court last year.

One of Buhari’s daughters is said to be married to Sherrif’s son.

FG Approves N10bn for IDPs in Benue, Others

Federal Government has approved N10 billion for the reconstruction of communities ravaged by herdsmen attacks in Benue and other states of the federation.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed this when he addressed thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Abagena camp in Makurdi on Wednesday.

Osinbajo, who said he was representing President Buhari on the visit, disclosed that the money had been approved at the Federal Security Council meeting held recently, to take care of security, reconstruction of damages communities and restoration of farms and farmlands.

“I am here to represent President Buhari who visited in March. He had asked that a study of all the ravaged communities be made and have identified that there are three things that must be done.

“The first is security. We want to ensure that the places that have been destroyed are secured; second thing is to ensure that the IDPs go back home and homes are rebuilt. The third is that we secure farms and farmlands so that the farmers can return back to their farm and also assist non farmers; traders to continue with their trade as well as assist in the education of the children,” he said.

The Vice President, who said the reconstruction of Benue had been made his business, said, “You will be seeing me more often in Benue state. All of these must be funded. We are providing you with your homes, which will look better than what was destroyed. It is your right as great people of Nigeria and I want you to know that nobody is doing you favour.”

While he turned to the children, Osinbajo told them “you are going to be better and happier. You are winners and as your parents, we will make sure you are happier than you are now and that you are successful too. By God’s grace, all your worries and sufferings have come to an end today,” he said.

He said the Federal Government as part of its programmes have introduced micro credits for women and artisans especially the Anchor Borrowers Programme, advising that the Benue people must organised themselves to be able to access these funds.

He said “All these suffering you are going through are just a stepping stone to all the good things that God will do in your lives. Dont ever think the suffering will continue. From now on, your morning has come and you will begin to access your joy and God will assist us to do all that we have promised”.

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, thanked the Vice President and President Buhari for their concerns. He noted the efforts of the federal government through NEMA which came to the aid of the state and also the setting up of a committee that had gone round the affected areas to put together the records.

He also thanked the President for deploying additional security to the state saying the state has witnessed relative peace since then.

“Whether it is mercenaries from Libya, Boko Haram or herdsmen, more forceful exercise should be applied and more security added to flush them out of Benue state so that the people can go home.

“The people want to go back home. From the look on their faces, you could see that it is not easy staying here at the camp. So far, we have lost some IDPs and about 69 new children have been delivered in the camp, under this terrible condition. You are not just an ordinary VP, you are a pastor, a man of God, a man who gives hope to the hopeless. We pray that this visit will give us hope and end our misery.

“We pray that God should give Nigeria a leader that would ensure justice and fairness. Ranching remains the best solution to herdsmen crisis in the state and across Nigeria and we thank you for presiding over the NEC, which has ratified it.”

Earlier, the Executive Secretary of State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Emmanuel Shior told the Vice President that the Abagena IDPs camp which was opened first week of February is now occupied by 34,936 IDPs from from Benue and Nasarawa state.

Giving a breakdown of the figures, Shior said Women are 12,041, pregnant women 492, nursing mothers 616, men 6,363, children 16,583, the aged 258 while the disabled stood at 234.

He further explained that all the eight camps in Benue; Abagena, Daudu 1&2, Gbajimba, Anyiin, Abeda, Ugba and Logo, are housing 175,070 displaced persons out of which 80,450 are children.

“It is our belief that the presence of the VP will address the humanitarian challenges facing the state,” he said.

Some IDPs who also spoke, Angela Igbe, Joy Adamu and Bem Jeremiah appealed to the federal government to make haste to provide security for them so they can go back to their homes, schools and to their farms.

“We are not comfortable staying at the camp because there is too much congestion and some of us were supposed to write our final exams in school, but we cannot do that because we are in the camps. Please our President, we are tired of running helter skater and staying in camps. Help us. We want to go back home,” Joy Adamu said.

WHO Calls Emergency Meeting on Congo’s Ebola Outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) would convene an Emergency Committee on Friday to consider the international risks of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on Thursday.

The expert committee will decide whether to declare a “public health emergency of international concern”, which would trigger more international involvement, mobilising research and resources, Lindmeier said.

Earlier, Congo’s Health Minister, warned that the Ebola outbreak has entered “a new phase” after a case of the deadly virus was detected for the first time in the northwest city of Mbandaka, with a population of about one million people.

So far, the 23 deaths believed to have been caused by Democratic Republic of Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak had been detected in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus.

The first urban case to be announced threatens to change that.

The WHO, which on Wednesday deployed the first experimental vaccines in the vast central African country, had expressed concern about the disease reaching Mbandaka, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle.

Adding to concerns is the city’s location on the banks of the Congo River, a major thoroughfare for trade and transport into the capital, Kinshasa.

The Congo Republic is on the other side of the river.

“We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement.

“Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases.”

He said authorities would intensify population tracing at all air, river and road routes out of the city.

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in Congo since the disease made its first known appearance near its northern Ebola river in the 1970s.

Ebola is most feared for the internal and external bleeding it can cause in victims owing to damage done to blood vessels.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, there had been only two cases of the virus confirmed by lab tests.

The first batch of over 4,000 Ebola vaccines was sent by the WHO to Kinshasa on Wednesday.

The health ministry said vaccinations would start by early next week, the first time the vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.

The vaccine, developed by Merck and Co Inc, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016.