Housing: FCMB partners Ogun on loan provision for subscribers
Determined to ensure provision of affordable houses to the people of Ogun, the state government has finalised plans to partner First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to provide loans for interested in subscribers of government housing schemes.
The Group Chief Executive of the FCMB, Ladi Balogun, while speaking when he led the management staff of the bank on a courtesy visit to Governor Dapo Abiodun in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, on Wednesday, noted that the bank gesture was to enable residents of the state own houses they could call their own.
He stressed that the financial institution was ready to give the Governor Abiodun-led administration support through its Corporate Social Responsibility platform, saying the government alone can not carry the burden of meeting the needs of the people.
Balogun, who described 2021 as a difficult year for everyone, explained that the meeting with the governor was to open a channel of engagement that would promote the quality of lives of the people, adding that the bank would work with the state government on any area it chooses for collaboration.
While appreciating the state government for its developmental strides, especially in the area infrastructure, Balogun said that the desire of the bank was to help the present administration finish its tenure well and as well as lay a solid foundation for the future”.
“We are willing to do more with the present administration in the state in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. The bank is focused on how it can elevate the quality of lives of the people they serve and work with”, the FCMB CEO stated.
Responding, Governor Abiodun called for a more robust relationship between his administration and the management of the bank in its quest to make more people become landlords.
Abiodun noted that despite his administration’s efforts at providing over 1,000 homes in the last 30 months, the effort seemed not enough as people have continued buying faster than what is currently on ground.
He observed that the effort to make homes available to the people through direct labour has created employment for the artisans, thereby reducing criminal activities among youth in the state.
“The direct labour programme is part of our economic sustainability plan to engage youths and build affordable houses for the people. The plan, no doubt, has made it more difficult for most of our youths to delve into crimes as they are busy working to earn their wages through the direct labour programme.
“We must get our people from being tenants, particularly people who are civil servants. It also allows us to create employment, we are using direct labour to build those homes and we have done about 1,000 in 30 months and those are affordable homes of N6million. We can’t even build fast enough; people are buying them faster than we are building them. They are either paid in full or paid in part, those are areas that you could work with us”, he stated.
Abiodun added that his administration was willing to work with the bank in the areas of concession, management or financing.
He equally informed the bank management that a 24 hour ambulance service, as well as a tricycle ambulance service for its Primary Health Care had been put in place, calling the bank to adopt a Primary Health Care for rehabilitation and equipment.
The governor, while also urging the bank to adopt a school through the adopt-a-school programme put in place by his administration, disclosed that his administration in the last 30 months has renovated 1,000 classrooms, with about 2,000 more to renovate.
Emirates invests over US$ 2 billion to enhance on-board customer experience
Emirates invests over US$ 2 billion to enhance on-board customer experience
Emirates is investing over US$ 2 billion to enhance its inflight customer experience, including a massive programme to retrofit over 120 aircraft with the latest interiors, plus an array of other service improvements across all cabins starting in 2022. Emirates is still flying on its brand promise of ‘Fly Better.’
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers. Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground. Now we’re rolling out a series of intensive programmes to take Emirates’ signature inflight experiences to the next level.”
Some of Emirates’ latest initiatives include: elevated meal choices, a brand new vegan menu, a ‘cinema in the sky’ experience, cabin interior upgrades, sustainable choices and a generous approach to the little touches that make travel memorable.
Starting from August, Emirates’ passengers can look forward to an award-winning team of chefs, a world-class catering team and a wide variety of suppliers have been assembled to design and deliver the best fine dining experience in the sky.
Emirates’ new vegan menu is also carefully curated to cater to the growing numbers of customers pursuing this thoughtful lifestyle. Vegans, or anyone interested in a delicious and healthy plant-based meal, will enjoy handcrafted gourmet dishes such as pan-roasted king oyster mushrooms, flavoursome jackfruit biryani and sliced kohlrabi garnished with burnt orange.
The Champagne and Caviar Experience is also being elevated. Emirates’ First Class experience, always a benchmark for service excellence, has been upped a notch in 2022. Customers can now savour unlimited portions of Persian caviar as part of the ‘dine on demand’ service, with an exquisite pairing of the world-renowned Dom Perignon vintage champagne. Emirates is the only airline with an exclusive agreement to offer the luxury brand on-board.
Cinema in the Sky will soar to new heights. First Class customers can create a memorable movie moment on-board by ordering cinema snacks as they enjoy the 5,000 channels on Emirates’ ice inflight entertainment system. All passengers can also curate their own ice experience before their flight, simply by browsing and pre-selecting movies or TV shows on the Emirates app, which can then be synced to ice the moment they board, maximising the seamless travel experience.
Emirates’ customers departing on flights from Dubai can begin crunching on fresh greens harvested from Bustanica, the world’s largest vertical farm and newly-opened US$40 million joint venture investment through Emirates Flight Catering. Emirates is continuing to invest in sustainable operations and supply chains, seeking local food suppliers and farms wherever possible to serve the freshest produce on board.
Additionally, Emirates has partnered with Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, one of the world’s top hospitality management schools, to craft the Emirates Hospitality strategy and encourage inspiring customer experiences. Emirates Cabin Crew have already begun engaging in intensive training programmes focused on delivering the four service pillars: Excellence, Attentiveness, Innovation and Passion.
The most significant investment is an extensive and record-breaking refurbishment of the aircraft fleet interiors, where cabins will be retrofitted with new or reupholstered seats, new panelling, flooring and other cabin features. Benefitting all Emirates passengers, every cabin class will be refreshed and new Premium Economy cabins installed.
After the retrofit, Emirates will have a total of 120 aircraft offering Premium Economy seats – the only airline in the region to offer this cabin class, and enhanced interiors and features across all other cabins. With its first aircraft scheduled to roll into the Emirates Engineering Centre for retrofitting in November, planning work and trials have begun in earnest.
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Fuel Subsidy: Nigeria Faces Existential Threat- World bank
Fuel Subsidy: Nigeria Faces Existential Threat- World bank
The World Bank on Wednesday raised the alarm that Nigeria might be facing an existential threat.
The warning comes in the wake of Nigeria’s dwindling revenue, the continued payment of trillions of naira on fuel subsidy by the government and the attendant economic challenges it has brought.
The international financial institution warned that if the country failed to optimise its tax system and focus on other areas to boost its revenue, the already low revenue would continue to drop. It noted that despite the rise in the price of oil in the international market, Nigeria had not reaped the benefits because of the huge amount spent on fuel subsidy.
The Senior Public Sector Specialist, Domestic Resource Mobilisation, at the World Bank, Mr Rajul Awasthi, said these at a virtual pre-summit, with the theme ‘Critical Tax Reforms for Shared Prosperity’, organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group on Wednesday. He insisted Nigeria would have to eliminate the subsidy regime eventually.
After the Federal Government earmarked about N4tn for subsidy payment in 2022, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said recently that government might spend a whopping N6.72tn as fuel subsidy in 2023 or pay N3.36tn up to mid-2023 if the subsidy regime would was to end in May 2023.
Also, the minister had consistently said the nation was battling with revenue problems, which had compelled the government to keep borrowing. The debt stock had risen to N41.6tn in the first quarter of 2022 with projections that it could peak at N45tn by the end of the year. Nigeria is rated the fifth on the list of the World Bank’s debtors, with $11.7bn debt stock as of June 30, 2021.
The International Monetary Fund had in March projected that Nigeria might spend 93 per cent of its revenue on debt servicing in 2022, but the minister disclosed a few weeks ago that about 119 per cent of the country’s revenue was spent on debt servicing. This implied that government had to borrow to meet its debt financing obligations, a development many economists had described as disturbing and unsustainable.
The virtual event, anchored by the PwC’s Fiscal Policy Partner and Thematic Lead, NESG Fiscal Policy and Planning Thematic Group, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, was attended by several stakeholders, including the representative of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Executive Secretary of the Joint Tax Board, Mrs Nana-Aisha Obomeghie.
Meanwhile, in a slide he shared during his presentation, which showed Nigeria’s Development Update, Awasthi explained that between 2015 and 2019, Nigeria’s non-oil revenues were among the lowest in the world and as a result the second lowest in spending, and that oil revenues were also falling even when oil prices were higher.
He stated, “Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and the largest country in Africa by population, so it is critical to Africa’s progress. There is no doubt about that. But the government of Nigeria, from the public finance perspective, is really facing an existential threat. Let’s not downplay the situation. That is the actual reality.
“Nigeria is 115th out of 115 countries in terms of the average revenue to Gross Domestic Product ratio. Despite the oil prices rising the way they have been, net oil and gas revenues have been coming down because of the tremendous impact of the subsidy.
“So, what is going to happen in 2022? The federation’s revenues are going to be significantly lower. They are already very low, and Nigeria is already the lowest in the world out of 115 large countries and this year, it’s really going to be lower than what it was in 2020 because of the debilitating impact of fuel subsidy.”
On the perennial low revenue from tax in Nigeria, a former Finance Minister and Ahmed’s predecessor, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had in 2017 revealed that only 214 persons in Nigeria paid N20m and above as tax and that most active taxpayers in the country were people whose PAYE were deducted from source. She had also decried the low tax to GDP ratio at about six per cent, which she described as the lowest in the world and far below the 18 per cent average on the continent.
Speaking on how to get out of the woods, Awasthi stated that in the non-oil sector, Value Added Tax compliance gaps were immense and they needed to be breached as well as rationalise tax expenditures.
Citing the tax expenditure statement of the Budget Office in 2020, he said, “The VAT gap in 2019 was over N3.1tn whereas the collection was N1.2tn. Of that gap, about two-thirds, which is about N2tn, came from compliance gaps. That’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It’s because of this that we have a low tax base and a lot of people feel they are being overtaxed.”
He also stressed the need for technology deployment in tax administration and data sharing between the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the states’ Internal revenue services to boost the revenue from personal income tax. He also called for an increase in the tax levied on certain goods, like wine, cigarettes and beer.
He added, “Property taxes at the state and local government levels are also critical. Nigeria has a tremendous potential, with about 50 million households, taxable properties and there are many rich people who need to be paying property taxes. There is a tremendous opportunity there.
“Also, I think there is a huge opportunity to raise excise on goods like beer, wine, spirit and cigarettes. There is a very tiny tax that has been introduced on them and this could be higher. These are the kinds of things that across the world there is a consensus that these rates should be higher because they are supposed to attack and address negative externalities of these products.
“There is also a need to reform the fuel subsidy regime, moving towards its full elimination at least by 2024. Nigeria needs to roll back the PMC subsidies and adopt the free market price. This is critical for this country. There is also the need to improve revenue from cross-border transactions and other international tax measures.”
While calling for increased enlightenment of the taxpayers, which he said the World Bank was collaborating with the World Bank to achieve, he noted that tax laws needed to be modernised and strengthened for a better outcome.
He added, “Going forward, the approach to revenue mobilisation has to be more strategic. We need to be more strategic and it’s not just about taxing more, Nigeria needs to tax better. We need to review the collection system and not just about what to collect and from who. There have been discussions about how the tax system has to be progressive and efficient in terms of compliance and making sure we are targeting the right tax bases.”
In his submission, the Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadiri, represented by the Director of Mr Oluwasegun Osidipe, said there was no doubt that the country needed money but that the government must exercise caution in introducing more taxes.
He tasked the government to expand the tax base, ensure the inclusion of more people in the informal sector and make the tax system progressive such that the rich would pay more than the poor.
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