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Author: Anthony Areh

Nigeria places rent agreement, C of O, others on stamp duty

By Chris Ndibe

Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has reported that henceforth, stamp duty will be paid on house rent and Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) in line with its new adhesive duty.

Mr Abdullahi Ahmad, the FIRS Director, Communications and Liaison Department made this known in a statement in Abuja.

Ahmad urged Nigerians and other residents to ensure that documents pertaining to rent or lease agreements for their homes or offices, C of O as well as a list of other common business-related transaction instruments were subject to authentication with the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp duty.

He said this was necessary in order to give the instruments the force of law and make them legally binding on all parties involved in such transactions.

The official said that the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty came into being at the official inauguration of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Audit and Recovery of Back Years Stamp Duties recently in Abuja.

Ahmed quoted the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami as saying “chargeable transactions under the Stamp Duties Act as amended in the Finance Act 2019 are in two categories – Fixed Duty Instruments and Ad-Valorem Instruments.

“The following are the chargeable transactions in the Fixed Duty Instruments category, Power of Attorney (PoA); Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), Proxy form; Appointment of Receiver, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Joint Venture Agreements (JVA), Guarantor’s form, and Ordinary Agreements Receipts.

“While ad-Valorem Instruments chargeable under the Stamp Duties Act are Deed of Assignment, Sales Agreement, Legal Mortgage or Debentures, Tenancy or Lease Agreement, Insurance Policies, Contract Agreements, Vending Agreement, Promissory Notes, Charter-Party and Contract Notes.

“Stamp duty is basically charged in two forms, either ad valorem where duty payable is a percentage of the consideration on an instrument or a fixed sum irrespective of the consideration on dutiable instrument or document.”

According to him,  the FIRS therefore, enjoins members of the public to make sure that any of the above-listed Instruments they give or receive in the course of their business or official transactions have the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty affixed or stamped on them.

Expert tasks Nigeria on ailing refineries

By Moses Uwagbale

Dr Titus Okunronmu, a former Director, Budgetary Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has urged Nigeria to solve the problems facing the nation’s refineries in order to address the problem of fuel importation.

Okunronmu made the call in Ota on Friday when he reacted to Wednesday’s increase in the pump price of petrol from N121.50 to N143.80 by the federal government.

The former CBN Director said that the inability of the four refineries to work effectively had been a major challenge facing the nation’s economy.

He noted that Nigeria would not overcome the problem of importing refined petroleum products into  until the federal government resuscitate all the refineries.

“There is no member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Country(OPEC) that is exporting crude oil and importing refined products in return.

“What is stopping the country from having refineries that are effectively working,” he said.

Okunronmu stressed the need for the government to repair the refineries in Warri, Kaduna and Port-Harcourt, to generate employment opportunities for youths in the country.

He added that the country could generate more revenue by exporting its refined products to West African countries.

Okunronmu said that if the refineries were working, they would provide by-products like gear oil and engine oil for the oil industry.

The former Director said that the implication of the increase in pump price was that Nigerians would spent more to buy petrol, while more funds would be generated by the federal government.

AfDB joints WTO, others to support trade finance

By Tanko Mohammed

African Development Bank (AfDB) has joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) to support trade finance amid COVID-19 crisis.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, multilateral development banks have stepped up their trade finance programs to support essential imports and key exports

In a joint press release  issued 1 July 2020, the institutions said they would prioritize their support to areas in the world where such support is needed most, particularly the poorest countries.

The collaboration is coming as international correspondent banks have cut lending in many countries.

In addition to the ongoing shocks to supply and demand, international trade has been affected by a reduction in the supply of trade finance.

Risk perceptions about non-payment in international trade are at the highest levels in a decade and banks are increasingly reluctant to take on payment risks in many countries where economic conditions are deteriorating.

Facilitating trade in medical supplies has been a significant part of these support packages.

With the approval of its $10 billion Covid-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF) in April 2020, the African Development Bank is providing up to $1 billion in trade finance liquidity and risk mitigation support to local banks in all 54 eligible African member countries.

More support will almost certainly be necessary in the weeks and months ahead, as the steep decline in the real economy starts to impact the financial system through loan defaults and corporate bankruptcies.

Many developing countries were experiencing significant trade finance shortages even before the COVID-19 crisis; now they face even tighter access to trade credit.

A further decline in trade finance supply would, in the short term, make it harder for imports of food and medical equipment to reach economies where they are urgently needed. In the medium-term, it would impede the ability of trade to help drive economic recovery.

Insufficient trade finance threatens to compromise otherwise viable trade transactions, disproportionately affecting micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which account for the bulk of employment in Africa.

“We share the concerns being expressed in markets, and will work within our respective remits to make trade finance available through this difficult period, just as we did during the global financial crisis of 2008-10,” the joint statement said.

Zenith Bank ranks first in Nigeria by Tier-1 capital

By Anthony Areh

Zenith Bank has emerged as number one in Nigeria’s Tier-one Capital in the 2020 Top 1,000 World Bank Ranking, published by The Banker Magazine.

The bank, in a statement on Thursday in Lagos, said that it climbed a whopping 29 spots from 425 in 2019 to 386 in the 2020 global ranking of banks.

The statement noted that the bank retained its position as the number one Tier-one bank in Nigeria with Tier-one capital of 2.79 billion dollars.

According to the statement, this figure represented an increase of 16.1 per cent when compared with the 2.40 billion dollars achieved in the 2019 ranking.

It noted that the ranking published in July 2020 edition of The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, was based on the 2019 year-end Tier-one capital of banks globally.

Commenting, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the bank’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, said that the ranking had attested to the bank’s market leadership.

Onyeagwu said the ranking was the outcome of a well-thought-out strategy of always delighting and creating value for its teeming customers through a broad range of superior product offerings, best-in-class service and top-of-the-range technology.

“Tier-one capital describes the capital adequacy of a bank and it is the core measure of a bank’s financial strength from a regulator’s point of view,” he stated.

Onyeagwu noted that the bank had clearly distinguished itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior quality service, unique customer experience and sound financial indices.

“The bank, with a knack for setting the pace and raising benchmarks, is a clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels,” he said.

The bank, as a testament for its resilience and market leadership, announced a profit after tax of N208.8 billion for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2019, achieving the feat as the first Nigerian bank to cross the N200 billion mark.

It also, for the first quarter ended March 31, posted gross earnings of N166.8 billion and profit before tax of N58.8 billion.

Over 500,000 jobs lost in Italy due to COVID-19

By DPA

More than half a million jobs have been lost in Italy since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, National Statistics Office Istat indicated on Thursday.

“In May, the number of people in employment fell to 22.8 million, the lowest figure in almost four years and down by 538,000 compared to February,’’ national statistics office Istat said.

The novel coronavirus pandemic struck Italy in the second half of February.

To date, the country has reported almost 241,000 infections and almost 35,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Istat also said the May unemployment rate stood at 7.8 per cent, up from 6.6 per cent in April.

The figure is relatively low, partly because of a major drop in the number of people actively looking for a job, the so-called “inactives” who are excluded from job-seekers’ statistics.

“The ranks of the inactive have swelled by almost 900,000 between February and May, to 14.289 million,’’ Istat said.

Unemployment figures are also less dramatic than what could be expected because people temporarily out of work, but covered by state-funded furlough schemes, are also not counted in.