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Buhari has approved exemption of telecoms sector from 5% excise duty, says Pantami

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Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, says President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the exemption of the telecommunications sector from the proposed 5 percent excise duty.

Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, disclosed this on Tuesday at a news conference organised by the presidential review committee on excise duty in Abuja.

In May 2022, Buhari had approved the collection of a 5 percent excise duty on telephone recharge cards and vouchers.

The charge was part of new items on the list of goods liable for excise duty in the country’s Finance Act.

Excise duty is a levy charged at the time of manufacturing. It is also a form of indirect tax on the sale or consumption of certain goods, products, services or activities such as tobacco, alcohol, narcotics, gambling etc., mainly to discourage their use and consumption.

Nigeria’s Finance Act has extended the list to include beverages, non-alcoholic drinks and many others.

Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance and national budget, had in July last year, said the government would begin the implementation of the 5 percent inclusive excise duty on telecommunications services in Nigeria.

The statement triggered widespread criticism from Nigerians, including telecom operators, and Pantami who faulted the timing and process of implementation, saying he was not informed.

In September, the minister announced that the 5 percent excise duty on telecommunications services had been suspended.

‘NO NEED FOR EXCISE DUTY IN TELECOM SECTOR’

Speaking on the issue at the press briefing on Tuesday, Pantami said Buhari had on March 6 approved the exemption of the digital economy sector on from the 5 percent excise duty because it would harm Nigerians.

He said 41 categories of taxes, levies, and charges are already in the digital economy sector; hence there is no justification for an additional excise.

“There is no need for excise duty in the telecom sector because the industry is already heavily taxed up to 41 taxes,” the minister said.

“The sector has been contributing hugely to Nigeria’s economy; more tax burden destroys the industry.

“We increased revenue generated by 594 percent from N51 billion quarterly to N481 billion quarterly.

“This is the only sector where the prices of services have been reduced. There is no justification for the government to impose more burden on its poor Citizens.

“Many micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and small medium enterprises (SMEs) depend on the sector for survival; if the tax is increased, the impact will take a toll on these businesses.”

On his part, Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), reiterated the commission’s commitment to improving the telecom industry.

Danbatta said the reduction of data had been the main target of the commission, adding that the average 1 gigabit of data had dropped to N335 from N350.

He also urged Nigerians to report mobile network operators charging exorbitant prices for data.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate rises to 33.95% as food prices continue to surge

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 33.95 percent in May, as prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to surge.

NBS made this known in its consumer price index (CPI) report on Saturday.

In April, the inflation rate stood at 33.69 percent.

“Looking at the movement, the May 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.26% points when compared to the April 2024 headline inflation rate,” NBS said.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.54% points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023, which was 22.41%.”

The report also shows that on a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in May 2024 was
2.14 percent, which was 0.15 percent lower than the 2.29 percent rate reported in April 2024.

This means that in the month of May, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than the rate of increase in the average price level in April 2024.

An analysis of the top five headline inflation drivers showed food and non-alcoholic beverages led with 17.59 percent.

Following closely are housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels with 5.68 percent.

Others are clothing and footwear at 2.60 percent, transport at 2.21 percent, with furnishings, household equipment and maintenance completing the list at 1.71 percent.

NBS said on a year-on-year basis, the urban inflation rate rose to 36.34 percent in May, “which was 12.61% points higher compared to the 23.74% recorded in May 2023”.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Urban inflation rate was 2.35% in May 2024, this was 0.32% points lower compared to April 2024 (2.67%),” NBS said.

“The Rural inflation rate in May 2024 was 31.82% on a year-on-year basis; this was 10.63% higher compared to the 21.19% recorded in May 2023.”

‘YAM, SEMOVITA, GARRI DRIVE FOOD INFLATION RATE UP TO 44.66%’

NBS said food inflation rose to 40.66 percent in May, compared to the 24.82 percent reported in the same month last year — indicating an increase of 15.84 percent points.

The bureau said semovita, oatflake, yam flour prepackage, garri, bean, etc (which are under bread
and cereals class), Irish potatoes, yam, water yam, etc (under potatoes, yam and other tubers class), contributed to the year-on-year increase in the food inflation rate.

Other contributors are palm oil, vegetable oil, etc (under oil and fat), stockfish, mudfish, crayfish,
etc (under fish class), beef head, chicken-live, pork head, and bush meat (under meat class).

NBS also said the month-on-month food inflation rate in May was 2.28 percent, showing a decrease of 0.22 percent compared to the 2.50 percent recorded in April.

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Local airlines will soon start flying directly to South America, says Keyamo

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Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation, says the country is looking to commence direct flight operations to South America.

The minister made this known on Saturday during an interview with the statehouse media.

On March 20, Air Peace, Nigeria’s flag carrier, commenced its Lagos-London flight services.

Keyamo said more indigenous airlines would soon commence flight operations to other routes.

“We are looking at the American route, we are looking at the South American route,” he said.

“They are not even flying the South American route at all but something is in the offering for us to start that route now so as to help the Nigerian flying public to bring down their prices.”

He said this is one aspect of helping local airline to enforce Bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA).

According to the minister, this will also ensure “you tell the countries that this is our flag carriers, present them as your flag carriers and so they respect them as Nigeria’s representative not as just private businesses in Nigeria”.

Speaking further, Keyamo said in the 2024 budget, there is provision for a master plan for the ministry.

The master plan, he said, is not to redesign the terminal buildings at airports but to modify the electropolis.

Keyamo said it would be done in all airports, starting with the five international airports.

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FAAN warns airport users against offering bribes, encouraging extortion

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has warned airport users against offering bribes and encouraging extortion this Sallah season.

The authority gave the warning on Friday in a statement issued by Obiageli Orah, its director of public affairs and consumer.

According to FAAN, any staff or government agency operating at the airports found guilty of accepting bribes will face punishment.

“The MD of FAAN Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, at a recent event had sent out a severe warning to staff as well as all government agencies that operate at our airports that FAAN will ensure that whoever is culpable is punished,” the authority said.

“Do not give bribes or encourage extortion.”

FAAN also assured Nigerians of seamless travels through its airports this festive season, adding that the authority has consistently upgraded its security measures to ensure the safety of travellers and their property.

The authority advised all travellers to arrive at the airport early to avoid missing their flights and to reduce the rush.

“International travellers must be at the airport three hours before departure, while local travellers must ensure to arrive about two hours to flight schedule,” FAAN said.

“Please ensure that you pack your luggage by yourself. Do not leave your luggage unattended.

“FAAN has expanded the screening area in order to give passengers a better flying experience.

“Keep an eye on your valuables while passing through screening.

“Respect rules and regulations in respect of carriage of prohibited articles, liquids, and gel.

“We have information desks at all our airports to assist you. Please make use of them.”

FAAN also advised travellers to park their vehicles properly in the car park to avoid towing, urging them not to use the services of touts.

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