FEC Approves Harmonisation Of Taxes Across Nigeria, First Maritime University As Well As Awards N31bn Contract For NDDC States And Another For E-Passport
Tony Ailemen, Abuja
As government winds down activities towards May 29th handover date, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved the harmonization of taxes across the 36 states of the federation thus abolishing multiple taxes. Minister of Information, Mrs. Patricia Akwashiki, disclosed this while briefing newsmen alongside her Interior Ministry and Niger Delta counterparts, Abba Moro, and Steve Oruh. They were also joined by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade, and Investment, Kenneth Kobani, after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan. This is sequel to the approval of reports of the Ministerial Committee on the Harmonization of Taxes and Levies across the federation.The new policy had been approved by the National Economic Council (NEC) after several deliberations. Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) had pointed at double taxation as a major challenge to the survival of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Akwashiki noted that Council approved the report of the Ministerial Implementation Committee on Harmonization of Taxes and Levies across the federation, to put to an end double taxation of service providers as they move into new states and local governments. Council also approved the Revised National Policy on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, saying that the first national policy was in 2007 but was stalled because a lot of stakeholders did not buy in. The new policy will replace the National Consultative Council with the National Council for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises which would push to ensure that it will be a major contributor to the economy and employment generation. This is just as FEC approved contracts worth N30.993 billion, as President Jonathan plans comprehensive tour of East-West road and other projects. The tour, which is expected to take place in the next 10 days, is part of plans to under take a comprehensive assessment of the level of projects execution in the area ahead of the May 29th handover.
The Niger Delta Development Minister, Steve Oruh, had disclosed that the East-West road had attained 90 per cent completion, adding that President Jonathan would take a tour of the road within the next 10 days before the expiration of his administration on May 29th. FEC also approved establishment of Nigerian Maritime University, at Okerenkoko in Delta State. It is the first of such university in Nigeria. Contracts awarded yesterday include those for the construction of Zarama-Okodia Iseme road in Yenagoa local government in Bayelsa State in favour of Eneko Nigeria Ltd in the sum of N5. 923 billion with a completion period of 18 months; the construction of Agadagba-Akotoko- Iyasa-Ovia road and bridge in Irele local government of Ondo State in favour of CGC Nigeria Ltd in the sum of N15.628 billion while the construction of Amasoma-Egbedi road in Kolokuma/Okpokuma local government of Bayelsa State, was awarded in favour of Dantu Construction Nigeria Ltd, in the sum of N2.767 billion with a completion period of 18 months.
Speaking more on the road contracts, Oruh said, “ Council also ratified contracts which were earlier given anticipatory approvals by Mr. President sometimes around the end of last year in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs; it has to do with ratification of President’s anticipated approvals. “The ministry got four projects ratified by council today. One has to do with the construction of Zarama-Okodia- Iseni road in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State, at the sum of N5.923 billion with a completion period of18 months. “The second contract approved is the construction of Agadagba-Akotokpo- Isaya-Ovia River and bridge in Irele local government of Ondo State, at the sum of N15.628 billion. “The third is the construction of Ofagbe Udeze-Ozoro road with a spur from Ovwie to Aba road in Isoko North, Isoko South local government areas of Delta State at the sum of N6.675 billion with the completion period of 24 months.
“While the fourth one is the construction of Amasoma-Egbedi road in Okolouma Okpokuma local area of Bayelsa State at the sum of 2.767 billion with a completion period of 18 months.” Oruh explained that the East-West Road, which is made up of four sections, is nearing completion. “Section one is from Warri to Kaiyema, section 2.1 and 2.2 is from Kaiyema Bridge to Port Harcourt, Section 3 is from Port Harcourt to the beginning of Akwa Ibom and from there to Oron. And the fifth section is from Oron through Odukpani to Calabar. “Most of the old sections from 1-4 have virtually been completed. The second bridge at Patani will be completed within the next one week. Section 1 of that road, I can say is 99 percent completed.
I travelled on it recently and it took me less than one hour to get to Port Harcourt. “Section 2, there is a bridge problem in one area; apart from that, about 90 per cent of section 2 is completed. “Section 3 has a new section which was awarded last year to RCC between Zero Zero to Onne port because of a lot of challenges which were not part of the East-West road project when it was started; because that section was fully developed by the time the east west road project started. It was already dualized but with the new project, it is going to be three lanes. The centre of the road, because of the heavy axial trucks, the shoulders of the road is below the road. That was why a new contract was awarded around October last year. “So if you put everything together, we can say 90 per cent of the road is completed apart from the new section from Oron through Odukpani to Calabar which is yet to be flagged off.
“We will be going on tour of the East-West road within the next 10 days before the expiration of this administration”, he said. Speaking too, Interior Minister,Abba Moro, said Irish Smart Technologies Nigeria Ltd, an indigenous service provider, having been engaged for the past decade and being satisfied with its execution of work in terms of revenue generation and quality of production and Nigeria’s travel documents, decided to renew the contract. ”Today at council, we ratified the anticipatory approval of Mr. President for the renewal of the contract for the production of the passport booklets between the Ministry of Interior and Irish Smart Technologies Nigeria Ltd, a service provider.
As you are well aware, we had a subsisting contract with the service provider for the production of the Nigerian passports, which has spanned over 10 years now and the agreement has since expired and due to increased activities of our embassies with the posting of the immigration officers to our missions, the acquisition of the Nigerian passport has increased in rates and so it became imperative that at the expiration of the contract for the production of these passport booklets, that it be renewed for the service provider to continue to provide these passports so that we don’t go to the extent that it will become a crisis situation when passports are exhausted and Nigerians clamour for acquisition of passports and they are not available and so the council looked at the approval.
“The contract for Irish Technology was renewed for a period of four years and the production of 10 million epassport booklets in their various categories -32 page, 62 pages, and their counterpart of diplomatic and official e-passports. “The Service providers have performed very well and we have looked at all the parameters of the agreement and agreed that in the period under review, they have performed very well. Within the period, they have been able to generate N51 billion onshore and within the period under review, they have been able to generate, for the government of Nigeria through the sale of passport and ancillary travel documents, the sum of $5 million offshore.“Nigerians dealing with the NIS are satisfied by our survey that they performed very well and on the part of government in terms of revenue generation and quality of travel documents and the international identity and integrity of travel documents, they have done very well, that is why we renewed the contract which is completely contractor financed” each production cost N693: 8 kobo”.