Deduction u/s 80DDB in respect of medical treatment

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Joyadan 5 May

NPA committed to improving access to Apapa Ports

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We seek not just to take the Nigerian economy out of recession, but also to place it on a path of sustained, inclusive and diversified growth. We are determined to change Nigeria from an import-dependent country to a producing one.

We must strive to have a strong naira and productive economy," Buhari said. The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, pledged the support of the legislature to making the document work. Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, pledged the support of the chamber to follow through with the plan and ensure that it is implemented. Meanwhile, some financial experts have expressed optimism that there would be increased liquidity at the capital market in the second quarter of this year if the plan is quickly implemented.

They said that the sustained economic recovery measures of the Federal Government would impact the market positively this quarter. Uche Uwaleke, noted that the market would witness enhanced liquidity during the period with the appreciation of the naira, adding that the lower inflation rate and the expected passage of the budget would also boost fluidity.

Sewa Wusu, the market outlook appears positive this new quarter with the new economic measures. Akpan Hogan-Ekpo, urged the government to religiously implement the masterplan.

Also yesterday, the president pledged continued support for the private sector to provide the needed investment in driving economic growth.

He said his administration had prioritised the creation of a prosperous economy where talents could thrive, leading to the availability of sustainable jobs and other opportunities for the nation's teeming youths. The summit was introduced last year by Governor Nasir El-Rufai to make the state a choice investment destination. A bill seeking death penalty for anybody that caused death during sea piracy scaled second reading in the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill sponsored by Senator Nelson Effiong, Akwa Ibom South also proposed life imprisonment if death was not recorded during sea piracy.

The document was titled: He described sea routes as popular and cheaper trade routes. Effiong added that Nigeria, being an import dependent economy must do more to guarantee the safe arrival of goods at her shores.

He underscored the urgent need to put in place law that will discourage and suppress sea piracy and punish those engaging in it. On the outskirts of Benin's port city of Cotonou, thousands of used cars fill a vast parking lot but the merchants who used to come here from Nigeria to haggle for them are absent as recession bites at home. Fréjus Fatondji works at one of dozens of car lots in the commune of Seme-Kpodji, wedged on a spit of land between Cotonou and the Nigerian border.

At an adjacent lot, Tadjou Adejouma, vice president of a car import dealership, said that until last year they were selling 35, vehicles a month and now they barely sell 3, Residents say drivers used to pass by in huge convoys, speeding toward the border, beeping their horns in celebration. Bars that sprang up to cater for visiting clients have closed and dozens of Lebanese, who dominate the import business in West Africa, have departed, residents say.

Benin is known as a "warehouse state" because it acts as a smuggling hub for goods bound for its larger, English-speaking neighbor Nigeria, Africa's largest economy. Import bans and high tariffs in protectionist Nigeria on everything from used cars to cigarettes as well as chronic congestion in its ports have encouraged trade across the border with Benin, which maintains low tariffs on goods it imports.

But a recession in Nigeria which began last year, followed by the central bank's decision to keep the naira at an artificially high rate, has choked off dollar supplies through official channels, forcing importers to pay a huge premium on the black market. This has driven up prices for goods paid for in West African CFA francs and crushed cross-border trade.

Amid growing signs of stagnation in Cotonou, from which 80 percent of the country's imports were previously sent to Nigeria, some question whether Benin's model of secretly re-exporting goods it has not produced is sustainable in a region which plans to remove anomalies in the tariff system that encourage smuggling.

An International Monetary Fund report in December said the slowdown in the Nigerian economy was having "significant impacts" on Benin, including a decline in customs revenue due to reduced imports since the Nigerian slump. Benin's finance ministry said it expected trade with Nigeria to pick up again this year and it is trying to encourage a return to a formal economy for regional commerce.

Nigeria's customs service said it will begin an "aggressive anti-smuggling operation" in April and encouraged people to pay outstanding customs duties on vehicles in the remaining grace period.

On the other side of the border, in the Nigerian town of Seme, year-old Akowanu Ayoola Yusuf sits idle on the wall of a gas station, saying he has given up the increasingly costly and risky business of importing used cars from Benin. Nearby, a family divides a bag of rice smuggled in from Benin into small containers to hide in different crannies of their car in the hope of outwitting officials along the 20 km drive back to Lagos.

But, on paper at least, there is little trace of the trade. A former French colony where more than a third of people live in poverty, Benin records Nigeria-bound imports as being for domestic consumption, according to the IMF.

This has the advantage of concealing the scale of the business from Nigeria, which has accused Benin officials of undermining its laws. It also allows Benin to collect VAT and other fees on the imported goods. Officials turn a blind eye to secret canal networks dug to ship goods across the lakes and lagoons of the border region, as well as the bribes sometimes paid to let them through, residents say. They do the same for cheap Nigerian fuel coming the other way, often ferried into Benin in jerrycans on small canoes.

In addition to the Lebanese merchants, the business is often conducted by Yorubas, an ethnic group from southwestern Nigeria and Benin that has been involved in cross-border trade since colonial times. Countries in the member West African regional bloc ECOWAS officially introduced common import tariffs in , which should reduce opportunities for smuggling, although implementation has so far been patchy. But in a sign of what may be to come, re-exports from Gambia to its larger neighbor Senegal fell sharply after Senegal cut import tariffs in Still, Benin could remain an important transit country for landlocked neighbors Niger and Burkina Faso, especially if a long-stalled railway project to connect them is launched.

The Gulf of Guinea definitely remains one of the most dangerous waters in the world for merchant shipping, as the latest report by EOS Risk Group stated that pirate's incidents rose to 52 attacks last year. Although some other reports showed that the security situation in the coast improved early this year, EOS reports showed that the Nigerian Navy needs to beef up security to further protect crews sailing through Nigerian waters. This is coming as President Muhammadu Buhari directed the officers and men of the Nigerian Navy, to continue to work hard to ensure safety on the nation's waterways.

He said it was important for them to ensure safety so that legitimate economic activities could hold on the waterways, therefore making the country to prosper.

The info graphics obtained by The Guardian showed that attacks were higher early , but reduced drastically towards the last quarter of the year. The report noted that throughout the year, the pirate groups stopped hijacking tankers for product theft and have started to kidnap crew for ransom. Bulk carriers, containerships, general cargo vessels, LNG tankers, fishing vessels, a refrigerated cargo vessel, a dredger and a vehicle carrier were also subjected to attacks during the year, according to the group," the group said.

Target vessels were mostly tankers, which recorded 48 per cent of the attacks; OSV recorded 21; Containership four per cent while Liquefied Natural Gas vessels had four per cent of the attacks.

It indicated that about 21 per cent cases had armed security presence onboard when attacked, while they were absent in 69 cases, and five cases were unknown. Besides, it stated that there was 52 per cent success rate of pirates boarding vessels, while 37 per cent cases showed that the entire crew successfully used the ships citadel to protect themselves following pirates boarding.

According to the report, 45 days was the longest time hostages spent in captivity, with minimum of 15 days. Panama vessels were mostly attacked during the period, followed by Liberia, Nigeria, Marshall Island, Singapore, Bahamas, Malta, Germany and a host of others.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday directed the officers and men of the Nigerian Navy to continue to work hard to ensure safety on the nation's waterways. Ibas told State House correspondents of the outcome of the briefing after his encounter with the President. The Naval chief disclosed that the organisation is working hard to contain cases of piracy on the nation's waterways.

He said a lot has been achieved in that regards. He said, "On privacy, the assertion about the Gulf of Guinea being the most notorious water in this part of the world has been taken seriously. A lot is being done by the Navy to contain the menace of pirates. He also talked about the purpose of the Naval base established in the Lake Chad region.

Ibas said, "It is a routine that we brief the Commander-in-Chief from time to time. This was a special brief to update him on the state of security situation in the maritime environment where my operation takes place. It is aimed at building capacity and intelligence sharing. We have been part of the various joint task forces including the Lafiya Dole.

The Nigeria Navy's presence there is to help in consolidating on the security of that at area and facilitate economic activities to pick up. A study by Nigeria's leading accounting firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte, has blamed the high cost of doing business at the nation's seaports on the Nigeria Customs Service and other government agencies, claiming that Customs processes are responsible for not less than This assertion was contained in an industry report titled: Lagos Container Terminals concession as a case study', which the firm has just published.

Akintola Williams Deloitte stated that its value chain analysis of a foot container laden with cargo worth N Out of this amount, about N5. The firm stated that other actors in the value chain included shipping companies, Nigerian Ports Authority, terminal operators, clearing companies and haulage services providers.

It said shipping companies were responsible for The report stated, "The value chain of a typical container terminal operations begins with the shipment of the goods through a shipping line to the host country. The consignee pays the freight charges for the shipping as well as the container deposit fees. Demurrage charges may apply where the consignee fails to return the containers on time. In addition, the consignees also pay the relevant Customs import duty.

Consignees pay for the services of the clearing agents where applicable. Large companies are directly responsible for clearing their goods. According to a report, by IMF, the reform plans are not enough to bring the country out of recession. Nigeria is seeking the funding for infrastructure investment and to help plug an expected record deficit in this year's budget as it boosts spending to try to end a recession.

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria's president, has rejected further devaluation of the currency. According to the page IMF report obtained by Reuters, the Washington-based fund will urge Nigeria, a major oil producer, to introduce immediate changes to its exchange rate policy.

It would also say its recent reform plan is not enough to drag Africa's biggest economy out of recession. For the first time in seven months, the dollar fell below the psychological N barrier, when the greenback traded at N to the dollar in Lagos and exchanged at N in Abuja, lower than N at which it traded on Tuesday. With the gains made by the local currency in the last five weeks, the naira inched closer to one of the Central Bank of Nigeria's CBN key foreign exchange policy objectives of an exchange rate convergence.

The naira trades for N to the greenback for invisibles and at N to the dollar on the FX interbank market, the official window for manufacturers and importers of raw materials eligible to buy FX from this segment of the market. The last time the naira traded at between N and N to the dollar on the parallel market was in August The significant gains made by the naira on the parallel market, according to market analysts, was a reflection of the improved confidence in the FX market, following the sustained dollar interventions by the CBN since last month.

One analyst also attributed the gains made by naira to the Bureau de Change BDC operators that are awash with dollars and with little or no customers to patronise them. He said several retail customers who used to resort to the BDCs which realistically fund the parallel market to fund invisible transactions now get to buy dollars at a lower rate from the banks. Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday expressed optimism about the convergence of the FX rates on the official and parallel markets, stating that the gains made by the naira against the greenback in the last five weeks was not a fluke.

Emefiele said he was happy that the central bank's intervention was yielding positive results. But an analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, who welcomed the development in the FX market, pointed out that achieving a convergence between the official interbank rate and parallel market rate would be a more onerous task.

Maybe what the CBN governor was talking about is achieving a convergence between the parallel market rate and the rate for invisibles, which is N to the dollar. Sarah Alade, retired on Wednesday and urged Emefiele to uphold the credibility of the bank.

Alade, who for four months served as the acting governor of the central bank, following the suspension of the former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now the Emir of Kano, also recalled a dark period during her stint when the central bank had "four governors". Sanusi, in February , was suspended by former President Goodluck Jonathan over allegations of financial recklessness and misconduct.

It was the time that the CBN was being investigated. It had never happened before that the activities of the CBN were under investigation. We understand that there was some financial mismanagement in the CBN'. The credibility of this institution was eroded. At the end of the day, it was not just CBN that suffered for it but the economy as a whole did suffer. We must not subject this institution to that type of incident again," she said.

Sharing her experience as acting governor, Alade explained that the investigation had paralysed activities at the bank. The only thing we could do was to just maintain the bank. We could not do anything.

For me, it was a humiliating experience, but we did the best we could," she said. The persons Alade was referring to were Sanusi - suspended governor; Emefiele - governor-in-waiting; Alade - acting governor; and Mr. Obazee, who was recently fired by President Muhammadu Buhari, had written a damning report on the bank's and audited financial accounts under Sanusi's stewardship.

At the send off for Alade, Emefiele described her as "a friend, colleague and a woman of extreme virtue". He applauded her for her hard work and the 23 years she had served at the central bank. Similarly, Adeosun described the retiree as one of the brilliant and inspiring Nigerian women in the financial sector.

In her capacity as the Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, a post she held for 10 years, Alade served on the teams on major economic policy studies and was involved in the preparation of the CBN's Monetary and Credit Policy proposals over the years.

Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings on Wednesday said Nigerian banks would continue to face challenges this year, following the extreme difficultly they faced in The ratings agency, in a report on Nigerian banks, pointed out that the financial institutions faced multiple threats from the operating environment in , including Nigeria sliding into recession, the economy continuing to suffer from low oil prices, and severe shortages of foreign currency FC.

Consequently, banks struggled with declining operating profitability excluding translation gains , sluggish credit growth, fast asset quality deterioration, tight FC liquidity and weakening capitalisation, putting increasing pressure on their credit profiles. Fitch stated that the "outlook for the rest of is not much brighter.

We believe that the banks will continue to face extremely tight FC liquidity despite the authorities' best efforts to normalise the foreign exchange FX interbank market and improve the supply of US dollars".

Other industry sectors contributing to NPLs include general commerce and trading, which have been affected by both the naira depreciation and FC shortages. Together with significant loan restructuring particularly in the oil sector , this will ease pressure on NPLs for now, in our view.

Regulatory capital ratios are high from a global perspective, but remain under pressure due to inflated risk-weighted assets due to the FC translation effect and lower core retained earnings. The low ratings, it noted, reflect the significant influence of the weak operating environment, which overshadows other rating factors. Overall, the largest Nigerian banks with stronger and more diverse business models, high revenue-generating capacity and stronger liquidity profiles appear to be coping better than smaller banks on most metrics.

The naira sustained its momentum on the parallel market yesterday, where it appreciated by N5 to close at N to the dollar, stronger than the N to the dollar last Friday. The gain was largely influenced by the increased dollar liquidity in the economy as the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN continues its intervention in the interbank foreign exchange FX market.

Confirming the figures, the acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Isaac Okorafor, said the wholesale requests would be settled today Tuesday , adding that the closing interbank rate for Monday, March 20, , was N With the development, it was expected that the naira would further strengthen in the foreign exchange market in the days to come. While disclosing that the bank had so far met all the legitimate demands from genuine customers, Okorafor reiterated that the CBN would ensure sustainable FX liquidity and transparency in the process to enable as many customers as possible get access to the foreign exchange they genuinely demand.

He therefore advised eligible individuals with genuine foreign currency needs to freely approach their banks and authorised dealers with their request, stressing that the CBN had made adequate provisions of foreign currency for all such legitimate purposes. Godwin Emefiele, recently said the central bank was acting in the best interests of ordinary Nigerians, regardless of the noise from the few entrenched interests whom the bank's policies may be hurting.

I obviously cannot be of help to people or businesses who are into speculative FX demand. My promise instead to this group, whether foreign or local, is that the CBN will make sure they lose money! The naira is set to appreciate further in the week as the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN plans to inject more foreign exchange forex into the market to meet the requests of genuine customers. The spokesman of CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said this yesterday in Lagos.

The statement said the bank was committed to ensuring that authorised dealers get sufficient supply to meet the demands of authentic customers of banks.

It disclosed that the bank has since February offered over one billion dollars to the interbank forex market. The central bank expressed optimism that stability had been restored to the forex market. According to the statement, individuals can easily access forex to address personal and business allowances. A summary of the CBN intervention in the interbank market over the past two months, showed that the highest bid was N per dollar while the lowest was N per dollar.

Specifically, the naira strengthened to N to the dollar on Thursday, stronger than the N to the dollar it was at some parallel market points in Lagos the previous day. Confirming the details of the sale to the dealers, the CBN acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said the highest rate of N was the same as the last auction rate of March 8, Speaking further, Okorafor expressed confidence that the pressure hitherto faced by both small and big-end users would be totally overcome soon.

The CBN, in the past few weeks, has been making offers and releases to the inter-bank foreign exchange market in its bid to sustain forex supply to different categories of users. The development also helped to improve the volume available to sell to retail customers. The CBN spokesman who disclosed this added that the sales would be settled on Friday. He, however, disclosed that no intervention was made by the bank to meet requests for invisibles on Thursday.

Okorafor reiterated that the CBN would continue to make necessary interventions in the interbank market to meet all legitimate transaction-based foreign exchange demands by customers.

Chibuisi Onyebueke, who conducted some guests round the sprawling Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone on Thursday, said the crane, which is sitting on tyres, is capable of lifting cargoes as heavy as tonnes with a metre boom outreach. With its extensive boom outreach, the LHM is the ideal cargo handling solution for the type of very large and ultra large ships operating across the world today," he said.

He said the crane is being operated fully by Nigerians who have been trained abroad on its handling and maintenance. He said the Oil and Gas Service Centre has improved the efficiency of personnel in the industry while saving downtime on offshore rigs and providing quick response in case of emergency.

Onyebueke also said that INTELS Nigeria Limited remains fully committed to maximizing, in a sustainable manner, the use of Nigerian human resources, materials, equipment and services in its operations without compromising the company's values, quality, health, safety and environment standards. He said the company has actively supported its host communities through supporting sustainable projects and comprehensive corporate social responsibility programmes. Other projects undertaken by INTELS include school renovation; provision of civic centres, youth secretariats, jetty restoration, women empowerment projects and medical outreach.

It operates in major government-owned port facilities and Free Zones in Nigeria, among others. At present, INTELS is leading the Nigerian Oil and Gas logistics support industry as a core logistics service provider through its skill, efficiency, integrity and quality of service.

The organization has 30 years of experience in ports management and terminal logistics support services in shore bases across Nigeria, applying the "One Stop Shop" solution under its Oil Service Centre Concept.

It also operates terminals in Warri, Calabar and Apapa ports. Hassan Bello, said INTELS deserved the recognition because of its defining role in the provision of integrated logistics services in the Nigerian maritime, oil and gas industries. The Federal Government says it will henceforth arrest, prosecute and fine illegal importers of frozen foods into the country through the land borders and seal cold rooms where it is sold.

Lokpobiri said the government would also set up a taskforce to seal and prosecute operators of cold room, who deal on those illegally imported produce. The minister said the ministry was working in collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Marine Police to actualise the plan. He listed some of the fishes usually being imported to include tilapia, red pacus, river bream, pangassius, horse mackerel, sardine and croaker, among others.

Lokpobiri said the illegal venture had resulted to huge loss of revenue, decrease in local production and loss of jobs, as well as discouragement by farmers. The minister, who said that the move was to encourage local production and exports, disclosed that the country's annual demand on fish was currently at 3. According to him, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the ministry is the only competent authority empowered by the Nigeria Sea Fisheries Act to issue distant water fishing licence for the importation of frozen fish into Nigeria.

The minister said that consumption of those imported frozen foods were major cause of some health challenges being experienced in the country. Lokpobiri, who frowned at the rising cases of kidney disease among children between the ages of five and seven, assured that the government would fight the menace to a halt.

He said that getting FOREX at a cheaper rate would ensure reduction in the price of the produce and make it affordable. The chairman said the illegal importation of fishes was detrimental to their business. Rasheed said that members of the association paid import duty of 14 per cent, which amounted to millions of naira to the Federal Government while the illegal importers pay next to nothing through the land borders.

According to him, it is difficult to compete with them in the market because they slash their prices. The USCG team, which was in Nigeria to examine the level of compliance with the international ISPS code assured of their support to Nigeria towards achieving a safer ports, jetties and terminals. The level of compliance has tremendously improved compared to our last visit. Dakuku Peterside, however assured of the Agency's determination to ensure total compliance with the ISPS Code in all ports, terminals and jetties in Nigeria.

This he said will guarantee the safety of the vessels calling or leaving our ports. We are determined to work with the United States Coast Guard to get it right in order to ensure our ports are safe.

Let me also reiterate that as a country, we appreciate the importance of getting security right at our ports, jetties and terminals and that we are committed to it", Peterside said. The Guardian learnt that the customs failed to meet its revenue target due to a high level of smuggling and reduction in the volume of import. The agency had set a target of N1 trillion, but generated N billion as revenue including Value Added Tax last year. The failure of the customs, one of the crucial revenue-generating agencies for government, to meet its target will mean less money for government to execute its projects and programmes to develop the country and take it out of the current recession.

More than this, it underscores the depth of inefficiency that has come to define port operations in Nigeria, a situation that has forced many importers to migrate their businesses to neighbouring ports of Benin Republic and Togo. Ali directed all the area controllers to ensure strict compliance with extant laws to achieve its revenue target. He said the area controllers must either "shape up or ship out" as there is no place for complacency in the customs that plays the crucial role of revenue collection and border security.

In a statement, Ali declared as a year of training and re-training, adding that "ignorance will not be an excuse for any officer as there will be refresher courses for them in batches this year.

But experts in the industry say the target may be a mirage again this year, if proper measures are not put in place to combat the rising cases of smuggling. A customs officer who preferred anonymity said the target might not be realistic going by the circumstances surrounding importation which has reduced drastically.

He also complained about the high level of smuggling around the borders. They cannot meet it. Are people going to steal cargoes? It appears they are optimistic; they are waiting for the dollar to fall and naira to appreciate so that more people can import. It is an anticipatory target, as far as I am concerned, it is unrealistic. We only hope that officers will not cash on it and be giving frivolous bills on imported cargoes.

That is the only challenge that we have as customs agents, because everywhere you go now, they will tell you we have a target to meet. But now that they are talking of target and they will start imposing bills on people, it appears all that government wants is money, they are not looking at trade facilitation," he said. The customs spokesman, Federal Operations Unit FOU , Jerry Attah said the unit was determined to combat smuggling in the country, although it is not a revenue-generating unit.

We are not for revenue generation. However, we always make some interventions. What we have is to reduce smuggling to the barest minimum and enhance trade facilitation," he said. The FOU seized 1, 50kg bags of different brands of foreign parboiled rice, and 43 kegs of 25 litres foreign vegetable oil, alleged to be contrabands from Sango market in Ogun State last week.

Attah attributed the failure to achieve the target to the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange and ban on importation of 41 items by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN. According to him, the service was given a target of N billion as revenue in If VAT is removed, duty collection only is N billion, our performance represents Hopefully we will do better in ,'' Attah said. The Federal Government spent N2. The agency in its fourth quarter Q4 foreign and merchandise trade statistics released at the weekend, disclosed that about On a quarterly basis Nigeria spent N The bureau further disaggregation of fuels and lubricants revealed that Premium Motor Spirit dominated fuel and lubricants imports with The bureau said the structure of Nigeria's export trade is still dominated by crude oil exports, which contributed N2.

The percentage of crude exports to total exports in Q4 thereby decreased to It disclosed that Nigeria's import trade by origin in Q4 showed the country imported goods mostly from China, Belgium, Netherlands, the United States and India.

They respectively accounted for N Further analysis of Nigeria's imports by continent during the period, revealed that it consumed goods largely from Europe with import value of N1, Nigerian imports from Africa stood at 4. Total import for fourth quarter of was N2. He said they are also persistently faced with the risk of losing their businesses, corrosion of their goodwill and professional integrity, asphyxiating demurrages and transactions and default in the repayment of facilities.

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