• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Stakeholders raise questions as FG announces new waiver policy

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Against the backdrop of the Federal Government’s plan to review its waiver policy in four weeks, industry stakehlders are baring their minds on content for a workable outcome.

Industry practitioners who spoke with BusinessDay, deplored abuse of waiver process by past governments which culminated in a reported loss of about N1.3 trillion just to waivers granted on importation of rice and other agricultural commodities between 2011 and 2014.

“The list of industries that government targeted for waivers was created over 20 years ago and needs to be reviewed to be relevant today and monitored,” said Taiwo Oyedele, head of tax at PwC.  Oyedele further said that previous waivers were selective, applied to individual companies, rather than industries, creating market imbalance.

Muda Yusuf, director-general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said,“We need to provide incentives to those who want to invest in infrastructure. This is particularly crucial because economic diversification would not substantiate amid dilapidated infrastructure.

Kemi Adeosun, Finance Minister,  while speaking before the Senate yesterday, said government was concerned that it had lost so much in the past, due to indiscriminate granting of waivers.

“So, we are going to be coming out in the next four weeks with a new policy on our waivers and technology to support it ,so that those sectors that we chose to support through waivers, we are able to quantify who is getting them, what is the cost and what is the impact.”

Adeosun further said”So, it’s something we are working on and I’m confident within the next four weeks, we will come out with a comprehensive policy on waivers. And it will block the leakages.”

She said past waiver policies created avenues for leakages because they were implemented manually.

“We have done a review on waiver. There was a multi-agency committee that was set up to review the entire practice of waivers. Indeed, we lost a lot of money through indiscriminate granting of waivers.

“Also, the implementation of the policy created other avenues for leakages because the policy is actually implemented manually. And even on the duty waiver certificate, there’s no detail of exactly what the waiver relates to and the book-keeping is completely manual,” the finance minister explained.

She assured that government was looking holistically at the whole policy and understands where the leakages are from and will block them.

“One of the things we have done in the interim is that if anybody says they are donating medical things, we send it to the Ministry of Health to verify that indeed this entity that says they are donating legitimate items and that these are not expired drugs or things that could be dangerous to Nigerians”.

The minister also announced that that another N60billion would be released soon while confirming that Nigeria is technically in a recession.

According to her, the releases include: N74billion for Ministry of Works; N21.9billion to Agriculture ministry; N22billion to Transportation Ministry amongst others.

She added, “Technically in economic terms, if you have two periods of negative growth, you are technically in a recession. But I don’t think we should spend too much time on labels. The issue is: we are in a tough place whether you call it a recession or not.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had declared a damning outcome for the country’s economy and its growth prospects in 2016, as expectations of improved Gross Domestic Product (GDP) were dashed with poorer projection at 2.3 per cent, worse than 2.7 per cent in 2015.

A sharp drop in the price of oil has put pressure on Nigeria’s revenue and the implementation of the over N6trillion budget.

 

OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, ISAAC ANYAOGU, IFEOMA OKEKE, LOLADE AKINMURELE, STEPHEN ONYEKWELU