By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Not less than 100,000 entrepreneurs are expected to access the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund put in place by the Lagos State government.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Monday at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Mr, Akintunde Oyebode, pointed out that the financial support was aimed at helping Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the state grow.
According to him, by 2019, 100,000 entrepreneurs must have benefited from the trust fund, but stressed that beneficiaries would have to fulfil some obligations, including being duly registered by the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) among others.
Mr Oyebode noted that the fund was in line with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s vision to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for all Lagosians.
He disclosed that the Board set up to manage the funds had spent the last few months perfecting strategies and addressing grey areas ahead of the commencement of the disbursement of the funds later this year.
Explaining further, he said the Board of Trustees embarked on several strategy sessions to define the mission, vision, core values and strategic framework to guide the Fund’s activities.
“After the completion of the research exercise, the Board working with its appointed consultants developed a strategic framework articulating the goals of the Board, the key interventions designed to enhance job creation, and the supporting infrastructure needed to deliver the set goals. This exercise has now been concluded and approved by the Lagos State Executive Council,” he said.
Highlighting some of the framework for the disbursement, Oyebode said the fund would provide loans to MSMEs at a single digit interest rates per annum, while training and capacity building and technical support would be provided to drive growth and job creation.
“The businesses we support must demonstrate capacity to repay our loans; be owned by Lagos residents duly registered by the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA); show evidence of tax payments to the Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS); and have valid Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs).
“In addition to our MSME financing schemes, we will also train unemployed residents to either take up identified jobs or run their businesses,” he said.
Mr Oyebode added that in adherence with Section 6 of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Law of 2016, the Board has forwarded the Operating Guidelines outlining the proposed interventions and eligibility criteria for approval by the Lagos State House of Assembly.
He expressed optimism that the fund would have multiplier effect with the capacity to create 300,000 direct and 600,000 indirect jobs while about 200,000 new tax payers would be added to the State’s tax net.
He said that the LSETF Board, in order to ensure sustainability of the Fund, has set its target to raise a minimum of N25 billion from domestic and international donors, in addition to the N25billion already committed by the State Government.
“Once the pilot phase is completed, we will roll out our loan schemes in all 57 LGAs and LCDAs across Lagos State. The full rollout will see us visit all LGAs to hold stakeholder sessions, where our staff will educate applicants on the application process, and the eligibility criteria for our various schemes. We are also in the process of setting up liaison offices in 20 LGAs, to bring the Fund’s activities closer to the people, and increase our points of representation to serve Lagos residents,” he said.
Corroborating him, Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Dr Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti said Governor Ambode’s administration was committed to ensuring the fund impacts on the lives of Lagosians.
He lauded the plan by the LSETF Board to set up offices in 20 Local Governments in the State, saying that it would go a long way to ensuring that no area is marginalized.
“It is important that this process has taken considerable time, we need to make it work and also ensure that it is to the benefit of all Lagosians,” Mr Durosinmi-Etti said.
Adding his voice, Chairman, House Committee on Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr Sola Giwa, assured that members of the House would give the Operational Guidelines of the fund expeditious passage.
“This is one of the pivotal promises of Governor Ambode and I can assure you that the House would do its best to ensure that we do it right,” Mr Giwa said.
FG to Make TIN Compulsory for Bank Account Holders
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
From 2022, bank account holders in Nigeria will likely have to obtain a tax identification number (TIN) to operate as the Finance Bill sent to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari is planning to make it mandatory.
This move, according to observers, is to expand the tax net of the country in the midst of shrinking revenue and make the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) pay tax to the government.
In his lead debate on Wednesday, the Senate Leader, Mr Yahaya Abdullahi, said the bill, when passed and signed, will make financial institutions request for TIN from customers for them to operate new and existing accounts.
“Banks will be required to request for Tax Identification Number before opening bank accounts for individuals while existing account holders must provide their TIN to continue operating their accounts,” he disclosed.
According to him, “Going forward, we hope that changes to the tax laws will be on an annual basis to ensure that Nigeria’s tax system continues to evolve in line with economic conditions.”
The lawmaker further said the bill intends to make it an offence to refuse to deduct tax.
“This penalty is 10 per cent of the tax not deducted, plus interest at the prevailing monetary policy rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The conditions attached to tax exemption on gratuities have been removed. Therefore gratuities are unconditionally tax exempt.
“The duties currently performed by the Joint Tax Board as relates to administering the Personal Income Tax Act will now be performed by the Federal Inland Revenue service.
“This seems to be an error in the process of amendments to replace the word “Board” as it appears in Federal Board of Inland Revenue,” Mr Abdullahi stated.
He also said the bill made electronic mails as the only channel that tax authorities would accept as a formal means of correspondence with taxpayers and concerning the late filing of Value Added Tax (VAT), the fine has been raised to N50,000 for the first month and N25,000 for subsequent months of failure.
“The penalty for failure to register for VAT is reviewed upwards to N50,000 for the first month of default and N25,000 for each subsequent month of default.
“The penalty for failure to notify FIRS of change in company address to be reviewed upwards to N50,000 for the first month of default and N25,000 for each subsequent month of default.
“This penalty also covers failure to notify FIRS of permanent cessation of trade or business.,” he said.
Unlisted Stocks Languish in Red Zone after 0.25% Fall Wednesday
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange extended its stay in the bearish zone on Wednesday, December 8 as the trio of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, NASD Plc, and Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc compounded its woes by 0.25 per cent.
FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc depreciated by N1 or 0.9 per cent at the midweek session to settle at N110.80 per share in contrast to the preceding day’s value of N111.80 per share.
It was followed by NASD Plc, which closed at N27.00 per unit compared with the previous day’s N27.15 per unit, indicating a decline of 15 kobo or 0.6 per cent.
On its part, CSCS Plc declined yesterday by 9 kobo or 0.5 per cent to close the session at N16.91 per share in contrast to N17 per share of the previous session.
The losses posted by these unlisted stocks chopped off N1.49 billion from the market capitalisation of the bourse during the session to close the day at N602.96 billion versus N604.45 billion it ended on Tuesday.
In the same vein, the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) closed lower by 1.8 points to wrap the session at 729.82 points compared with 731.62 points of the previous session.
At the market on Wednesday, there was an increase in the volume of securities traded by investors and this was by 168.9 per cent as 1.9 million units of stocks exchanged hands compared with the earlier day’s 694,849 units of securities.
In the same vein, the value of shares traded at the midweek amounted to N37.9 million, which by evaluation is 72.5 per cent higher than the N22.0 million posted on Tuesday.
All these transactions were executed in 14 deals, according to data from the exchange, 12.5 per cent lower than the 16 deals carried out at the preceding day.
Food Concepts Plc closed the day as the most active stock by volume (year-to-date) for selling 11.4 billion units for N14.4 billion, Lighthouse Financial Services Plc has traded 1.1 billion for N546.2 million, while Geo Fluids Plc has sold 1.0 billion units for N700.1 million.
Also, Food Concepts Plc finished the day as the most active stock by value (year-to-date) with a turnover of 11.4 billion units worth N14.4 billion, Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc, which is no longer on the platform maintained its second spot with 456.5 million units worth N9.2 billion, while the third spot was taken by VFD Group Plc with 10.4 million units valued at N3.5 billion.
Naira Trades Flat at I&E as Bitcoin, Ethereum Fall at Crypto Market
By Adedapo Adesanya
It was a stalemate between the Naira and the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (forex) market on Wednesday, December 8.
This was because, at the specialised window where investors source FX for approved needs, the local currency closed against the greenback at N415.07/$1, the same value it was sold at the previous session.
This happened despite a 51.7 per cent or $76.98 million rise in the demand for forex at the market window, as data obtained by Business Post from FMDQ Securities Exchange showed that yesterday, the turnover rose to $225.99 million from the previous day’s turnover of $149.01 million.
Also, the Naira recorded the same outcome at the interbank window of the forex market as the exchange rate of the domestic currency compared with its American counterpart remained unchanged at N411.74/$1 at the close of transactions at the midweek session.
However, the Nigerian Naira appreciated against the British Pound Sterling during the session by N2.68 to settle at N543.04/£1 versus Tuesday’s closing rate of N545.72/£1 and against the Euro, the local currency performed badly as it lost 53 kobo to trade at N474.07/€1 compared with N463.54/€1 it closed a day earlier.
Meanwhile, the scales tilted to the bullish side on aggregate at the crypto market yesterday as six of the 10 cryptocurrencies tracked by this newspaper closed on the green side.
The highest gainer was Tron (TRX) as it appreciated by 9.1 per cent to sell for N52.50, just as Dash (DASH) rose by 6.6 per cent to sell at N85,000.00, with Ripple (XRP) appreciating by 5.9 per cent to N487.19.
In addition, Binance Coin (BNB) gained 5.3 per cent to trade at N249,686.22, Litecoin (LTC) rose by 1.5 per cent to sell at N96,110.37, while Cardano (ADA) pointed north by making a 0.9 per cent gain to quote at N815.96.
On the losers’ side, Ethereum (ETH) made a 3.4 per cent slump to trade at N2,300,500.02, Bitcoin (BTC) fell by 0.9 per cent to trade at N28,330,347.37, Dogecoin (DOGE) retreated by 0.6 per cent to sell at N103.74, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) depreciated by 0.5 per cent to sell for N571.85.
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