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Why Nigeria Rejected OECD Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement—FIRS

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OECD Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Muhammad Nami, on Monday explained why Nigeria did not endorse the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement.

In a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola, the tax agency boss stated that signing the deal will not be in the interest of the nation.

The OECD Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement was designed to allow multinational enterprises (MNEs) to have a fair payment of taxes in different countries.

But Mr Nami said if Nigeria endorses it, it will lose out on potential revenue from the digital economy as the agreement is unfair to the nation and the developing countries in general.

“There are serious concerns on how the rules would compound the issues in our tax system. For instance, to be able to tax any digital sale or any multinational enterprise (MNEs), that company or enterprise must have an annual global turnover of €20 billion and global profitability of 10 per cent. That is a concern. This is because most MNEs that operate in our country do not meet such criteria and we would not be able to tax them,” he said.

“Secondly, the €20 billion global annual turnover in question is not just for one accounting year, but it is that the enterprise must make €20 billion revenue and 10 per cent profitability on average for four consecutive years, otherwise that enterprise will never pay tax in our country, but in the country where the enterprise comes from, or its country of residence,” he was further quoted as saying in the statement.

The FIRS head noted that for Nigeria to subject a Multinational Enterprise to tax under the rule, the entity must have generated at least €1 million turnover from Nigeria within a year, stressing that this is an unfair position, especially to domestic companies which, with a minimum of above N25 million (that is about €57,000) turnover, are subject to companies income tax in Nigeria.

He added that this rule will take off so many multinational enterprises from the scope of those that are currently paying taxes to Nigeria. In other words, even the MNEs that are currently paying taxes in Nigeria would cease to pay taxes to us because of this rule.

On the issue of dispute resolutions under the Two-Pillar Solution, the FIRS Executive Chairman explained that the rules were such that in the event of a dispute between Nigeria and a Multinational Enterprise, Nigeria would be subject to an international arbitration panel as against Nigeria’s own justice system.

“It would be subject to international arbitration and not Nigeria’s judicial system and laws—even where the income is directly related to a Nigerian member of an MNE group, which is ordinarily subject to tax in Nigeria on its worldwide income and subject to the laws of Nigeria.

“We are concerned about getting a fair deal from such a process. More so, such a dispute resolution process with a Multinational Enterprise, in an international arbitration panel outside the country, would lead to heavy expenses on legal services, travelling and other incidental costs. Nigeria would spend more; even beyond the tax yield from such cases,” he said.

On the issue of Nigeria losing significant revenue if it fails to sign in to the OECD Inclusive Framework rules for the taxation of the digital economy, Mr Nami noted that this was not a problem as the country had already put forward four ongoing solutions to the challenge of taxation of the digital economy.

“One, we have made it a point of practice to annually amend our tax laws to reflect the current global realities, it was courtesy of these reviews that we developed the Significant Economic Presence (SEP) rule, through the Finance Act of 2019 and 2020. The SEP rules set a threshold for multinational enterprises, without a physical presence in Nigeria, for registration and payment of taxes to the country.

“Two, we have deployed technology in order for us to bring digital transactions to the tax net. Coupled with the Significant Economic Presence rule, we have started seeing the impact of the technology we have deployed; companies like Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, and LinkedIn, among others who have no physical presence in Nigeria and that were hitherto not paying taxes, have now registered for tax purposes and are paying taxes accordingly. A positive to this is that we surpassed our target in the year 2021, despite the challenge posed to the global economy, including our own economy, by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The third initiative is the Data-4-Tax Initiative, a blockchain technology which FIRS is jointly developing with the Internal Revenue Service of the 36 states and that of the FCT, under the auspices of the Joint Tax Board. With this project, we are confident that we are going to have a seamless view and access to all economic activities of individuals and corporate bodies in Nigeria going forward, including money spent on digital commerce.

“The fourth is that we have set up a specialised office, the Non-Resident Persons Tax Office, to manage the taxation of non-resident persons and cross-border transactions, including all tax treaty operational issues and the income derived from Nigeria by non-resident individuals and companies,” he disclosed.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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SERAP Drags FG to Court over $23m Abacha Loot

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Abacha loot1

By Adedapo Adesanya

A suit has been filed against the federal government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the recently recovered $23 million looted by ex-Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the US.”

In a statement on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is joined in the suit as respondent.

The United States government had in August signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate the $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. It was in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the US to Nigeria in 2020.

“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot,” SERAP argued in the suit.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.

“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot,” SERAP said.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, said the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Lagos to Severely Punish Those Behind Mushin Collapsed Building

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3-storey building collapses mushin1

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The owner of the building that collapsed in the Mushin area of Lagos State and others would be “severely punished,” the state government has promised.

On Friday, it was reported that a 3-storey building on 2/4 Oye Sonuga Street, Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos collapsed, killing four people and injuring others.

In a statement issued yesterday, the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, said the state government would go after whoever is indicted in the incident, hinting that an investigation has commenced to unravel what happened.

During a visit to the scene of the unfortunate incident, the Commissioner directed that the adjoining building be pulled down for safety reasons, adding that efforts are on to rescue those who might have been trapped in the rubble.

He disclosed that the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory have been directed to unravel the cause of the collapse.

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NNPC Opens Talk with Financers on Gas Projects

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gas projects

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has established talks with the United States Finance Corporation and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Mr Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, and the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects, and this is very critical so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.

“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government. This is very helpful in the sense that President Muhammadu Buhari, has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”

Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which have been positioned as the country’s major transition fuel.

Mr Kyari said Nigeria is looking for opportunities to leverage the gas resources in the country to provide the possibility required for the energy transition.

It will cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government, and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission, and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor will gulp billions of dollars.

“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through some countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and increasing gas supply in the domestic market,” Mr Kyari said.

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