FEC approves N12.7bn for explore gold, N206bn for Second Niger Bridge link roads

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N206 billion to facilitate the construction of associated infrastructures that would link the Second Niger Bridge in the southeastern part of Nigeria.

The approval by the council yesterday was in addition to the N14 billion already expended by the Federal Government towards the construction of the bridge.

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Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who spoke with State House Correspondents after the FEC meeting, said the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration initiated the project under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement but could not complete it.

According to him, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, also presented three memos, which included ratification of the multilateral competent authority agreement on automatic exchange of financial accounting information, ratification of the Africa 50th Articles of Association and the approval for the financial transparency policy guidelines.

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He said the FEC also awarded a power project in Enugu State for N11.5 billion to Messrs Setrako Nigeria Limited.

Besides, the FEC has approved a contract worth N12.7 billion for the exploration of gold, iron ore, earth and other industrial minerals in the country.

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Minister of State for Mines and Solid Minerals, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, who gave the indication, said the exploration of the targeted minerals would include consultancy services to be provided by four companies. He did not disclo­se the companies.

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In another development, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has declared that contrary to widely held notion, there is no case of multiple taxation in the country.

Fowler, who briefed State House Correspondents after a session with the Federal Executive Council (FEC), also said the Council had ratified the automatic exchange of information with other countries.

The FIRS boss equally said those who refused to take advantage of the grace given by the Voluntary Assets Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) policy, which expired at the end of last month, would be made to pay their taxes with the corresponding penalties.

He said: “Let me say once again that we do not really have a situation of multiple taxation. You only have multiple taxation when you pay the same tax to different tiers of government. What we have found out is that a lot of people categorise any payment to government as a tax. For example, if you receive fine or a penalty, they call it a tax. If you pay for the parking space, they call it a tax. Those are the things you refer to as user-charges and not taxes.”

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Fowler, who explained why he appeared before FEC, said: “I was here today to attend the meeting with the minister of finance to ratify the automatic exchange of information. Basically, what this means is that Nigeria as a country exchange financial information with other member-countries which hopefully should improve our revenues and also ensure that all Nigerians that do have investments or businesses or incomes abroad will pay their taxes as and when due.”

On update on VAIDS, he said the update is that it expired on June 30 and anyone who has not come forth by now, shall be brought to book and be compelled to pay the appropriate tax with interests and penalties.

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He said: “Well, the response has been very good. We are collating all the figures both at the federal and state levels and I believe that by the middle of July, we should be able to tell the nation the exact progress in terms of the numbers that have declared, amount that have been paid and amount that is going to be paid in instalmentally.

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“The Federal Government has through the Ministry of Information and also through the office of the Vice President been talking about the different projects that have been financed with tax revenues and I think as Nigerians begin to see those dividends of democracy, very good spending, people will be more encouraged to pay more taxes.”

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