Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari approved the sum of N1,550,187,713.00 for the procurement of 68 brand new Ford Pick up operational vehicles for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who briefed State House Correspondents alongside the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu , explained that the operational vehicles currently available for the service are grossly inadequate for effective anti-smuggling activities.
She added that the need to effectively patrol the borders of the country, enhance Customs’ bid to suppress smuggling and increase revenue collection gave rise to the request to purchase 68 operational vehicles.
Adeosun further explained that having identified the need, the Service made provision for the purchase of 68 operational vehicles, Hilux, in its 2017 capital appropriation.
The council she said approved the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee on Tax Laws Reform.
The new policies will among others, entail VAT exemption for life insurance, public transportation, residential buildings, etc; while taxes on SMEs will now be reduced from 20 to 15 per cent.
Adeosun recalled that the Federal Executive Council had on 1st February, 2017, approved the revised National Tax Policy in order to have a robust tax system that would promote investment and improve revenue for sustainable national development.
The finance minister said, “The proposed tax laws reform by the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee(NTPIC) is expected to achieve following specific fiscal objectives: remove obsolete, ambiguous and contradictory provisions in the laws, increase Government revenue, simplify the process of paying taxes and doing business, promote Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and protect most vulnerable persons in the society.
“The NTPIC has produced two (2) Executive Orders and five (5) Amendment Bills.
The two (2) proposed Executive Orders are: Value Added Tax Act (Modification) Order; Review of Goods Liable to Excise Duties and Applicable Rate Order.
The five (5) proposed Amendment Bills are: Companies Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill; Value Added Tax Act (Amendment) Bill; Customs, Excise, Tariff ETC (Consolidation) Act (Amendment) Bill; Personal Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill and Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (Amendment) Bill.
Other laws proposed for amendments are: Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and Proposed Amendment of the Associated Gas Re-Injection Act.
Shehu on his part said that Council approved the sum of N499 million for the procurement of project monitoring vehicles for the ministry of power, works and housingz
He said FEC also approved N711 million for the construction and furnishing of three storey faculty building that comprises academic, departmental offices, conference room, departmental libraries, toilets and external blocks for the National Open University of Nigeria.
He said, “They relocated from Lagos to Abuja in March 2016 and only four out of the eight faculties have moved, the approval is to enable others move also.”
Shehu said, the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita also briefed council on the programme to help the interface between permanent secretaries and ministers and other political heads in other to enhance effectiveness in delivery and smooth relations between them.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said council approved all five memos in respect of the national social investment programme which is to training additional 9,400 beneficiaries in different skills with the target for them to be self employed.
According to her, “As at today, the SIP has up to 9.76 million beneficiaries cutting across the four programmes that have so far been deployed.
“The subject of the meeting today was centered around N-Power, it has 200,000 beneficiaries already that have been deployed as teachers, agriculture extension workers as well as health extension workers. So we are adding to these numbers by moving to the N-Power Knowledge category. This is a category where non-graduates will be trained in skills and attached to companies where they will gain experience during apprenticeship. The categories are three: first is a group of 2,000 beneficiaries will be trained in software development, web development and will be equipped with devices.
“The essence of the training is to make them self employable at the end of the training which will be for three months and there will be a apprenticeship attachment after the training.
“Second category, is the supply of 3,000 devices that will be used by staff of the National Cash Transfer office at the national, state, local and Ward levels, to register beneficiaries of the National Cash Transfer programme to able to record their data, BVN and their biometrics information as well as the location of where they are. Also, that device will help them to capture information on payments that accrue to the beneficiaries. It will help us to track the performance of the National Cash Transfer programme.
“The third category was the training of 2,900 beneficiaries in building, construction and automobile related industries skills. This training will cover electrical installations, carpentry, genre, wielding and fabrication, plumbing and pipping fitting, paintings and decoration as well as automobile technology. The training will be for a period of three months and also one apprenticeship attachment. At the end of the training they will be given tools related to the trade that ebu trained for, so that they will become self employed.
“The fourth category is the N-Power creating. It is meant to teach our youths on how to covert their creative skills into technology to be able to do animation, graphic illustration, script writing and post production activities. There will be 1,500 beneficiaries and would be trained for a period of one month and will have two months apprenticeship in a relevant company and agency that has the capacity to train them.
“At the end of this training, each of this group of beneficiaries will be going with the devices that will be provided to them. The devices will have uploaded special softwares specific to the skills they have acquired. Our target is that at the end of the day they will be self employed and be able to employ more people.”