Quantity surveyors seek speedy passage of safety bill

Towards checking incessant building collapse across the country, the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) has called on the National Assembly to ensure speedy passage of the safety and health bill.

The bill will take care and control all activities in the construction site as it concerns the quality materials use at site as well as personnel.

This according to its President, Obafemi Onashile, would also cover all aspects of safety and quality in building and construction work for the public, private and government.

The NIQS President spoke at the third Quantity Surveyors job fair held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

He said, the institute sponsored the bill, stressing that, when it is passed into law, it would mitigate the reoccurring building collapse across the country.

“Building collapse can be checked and controlled if government will enact a law on safety and health in building and construction work,” he said.

“That is the only way building collapse can be checked and controlled. We have put up a proposal on safety and health to the National Assembly on the need to enact law that check incessant building collapse across the country.

“We have packaged the proposal and if the bill is pass into law it will cover all aspect of safety and quality in building and construction work for the public, private and government”

He noted that the job fair was organised to bring together prospective employers and employees together to create a platform for the purpose of employment opportunities.

The NIQS President, added that the job fair in PortHarcourt was the third in the series, noting that it is stress free and cost effective for employers to employ competent and qualified quantity surveyors through the platform

He said that about 200 job seekers and 30 employers attended the job fair.

Earlier, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, represented by his Special Adviser on projects, Alagbo George Kelly, said the State government saved N10billion from various projects through prudent and effective costing.

He said through effective cost analysis projects that would have cost huge sums of money are delivered at less cost.

Ann Godwin

Housing : Our destination in the next decade — Joseph Ogeh

Commissioner for Housing, Delta State, Architect Joseph Ogeh, has revealed the go-getting programmes of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in multiple joint ventures with African Development Bank, ADB, Sovereign Wealth Fund, National Housing Fund, NHF and cement manufacturer, Lafarge Cement Company to turn civil servants in the state into property-owners as well as provide reasonably priced houses for the populace.

Architect Joseph Ogeh Ogeh, who listed the star projects of the government, critically examined the measures and concluded that if the tempo was sustained, the state would have no problem meeting the United Nations standard on shelter in the next 10 years.

The Commissioner, speaking to Saturday Vanguard, asserted: “The civil servants are happy about it because before we started, we had meetings with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, Nigerian Civil Service Union, NCSU, and the Head of Service. It was a flamboyant idea.”

“For some of them, the housing component in their salaries was just N15, 000 or N20, 000, but they pay as much as N40, 000 monthly on rent. The advantage they have is that today this is your house but we are going to be taking N20, 000 from your salary every month. So you have a house and rather than paying N40, 000 for rents, they are taking N20, 000 from your salary,” he said.

Ogeh said the government was using the Delta State Mortgage Bank as a vehicle to achieve the objective, adding: “We now have to partner with the Delta State Mortgage Bank, which in recent times has been repositioned for better performance to really live up to its expectation as a mortgage institution.”

Workers’ inventory

“They have taken inventory of all civil servants and have registered as mortgage up takers. The issue is that if a civil servant is allocated a house through the mortgage, all you have to do is that the housing allowance in your salary will be deducted at source every month, but from day one, you are already a landlord. “It will be deducted gradually within the next 20 years or so. Deductions will continue until you finish paying it but on day one you have packed into your own house,” he said.

According to him, “The entire civil service workforce in the state is about 60,000. Our desire is provide a minimum of 10,000 housing scheme within this period. We are partnering with Shelter Afrique, which is the housing development unit of the African Development Bank with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. You know Nigeria is the highest shareholder of the bank and that is why Nigeria will always nominate who will become the Managing Director. We have had Okonjo Iweala,Obi Ezekwesili, Aruma Oteh and presently Femi Adesina former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria as the Managing Director.”

“The process is ongoing and any moment from now, the ground breaking will commence to build 1,000 housing units in Asaba, including all infrastructures (road network, schools, hospitals, drainages, electricity etc). You know anywhere you have a 1,000 housing scheme, you will be thinking of about 5,000 people. It is going to be a community of its own. It is a pilot scheme. By the time they finish the pilot scheme, they will go to other centres to replicate what they have done in Asaba.

“We also have the one that is being funded by the Sovereign Wealth Fund. It is a 600- housing unit by Issele- Asaba Road, along the Benin Expressway. We also have the one by cement giant, Larfarge through GreenField. They are funding it and they have already started the first 1,000 unit by Illah near Asaba. The total package is going to be 10,000 housing units. They are doing 1,000 in Asaba and will spread the rest in the three senatorial districts. One thing we are trying to do is how these civil servants can access these houses”, he said.

Not exclusive to govt workers

He clarified that the scheme was not meant for civil servants alone, adding: “There are members of the public who have verifiable businesses that are recognized and once they are registered, they are qualified and there are some businessmen who would want to pay in three installments and clear their mortgage within two years.” “When we are talking of civil servants, who will pay in 10 years, there are people who will say how much is the mortgage? Say N10 million, they will say I will deposit N2 million today. So it is an open thing, but housing delivery is not a profit- making thing to government. It is government duty to provide shelter to its citizens. So, in our planning and delivery of houses, we are not thinking of how to make money out of it. The important thing is delivering affordable houses to the people,” he informed.

New secretariat building to house all govt agencies

The Commissioner said government decided to tackle public buildings when it came in because the amount expended on rent of offices is ridiculous. He asserted: “In fact, three quarters of government agencies are on rented apartments .The amount we pay in a month if you calculate that in one year, I do not think any human being will do that even for his own business.”

“So, the first thing this government decided to do was to develop what we call Delta central secretariat building, which will house 28 agencies that are on rented apartment. It is a seven- floor building. Put in a layman’s language, it is the size of two football fields and the width is 60 meters, which is more than half a football field. Once completed in the next 20 months, every agency will relocate to the new secretariat building.

“The advantage is that the state will save the money it has been paying on rents. Delta state is 25 years plus but what the state has paid in just 15 years on rent is more than what it takes to build that secretariat two times. All that money will be saved and two, there is ease of doing government business. Let me give you a typical example, my office as Commissioner for Housing is located at Summit Road, while the Ministry of Lands, which is a related ministry, is at Ibusa Road. Another related ministry in terms of C of Os and all, which is the Ministry of Justice, is at Ibusa Road.

“So when you carry a file looking for the Commissioner for Lands and Survey to confirm the details of land, you have to carry the file to different places and in the process, certain papers could be missing. So ease of doing business will be one of the great advantages of that project. You carry your file and access the next ministry which is on the other floor by taking a lift. Within a couple of minutes, you are done,” he stated.

Commissioner Ogeh hinted: “They have finished sub structure. A lot of companies bided for it but was finally awarded to North China Nigeria Limited-a Chinese company. We hope in the next 20 months, the project will be completed and we would have saved the state a lot of money.”

Next 10 years in Delta

Looking at the housing sector in the state in the next 10 years, he said: “If this tempo is maintained in the next 10 years, we will be able to accommodate a lot of Deltans to meet with the standard demanded by the United Nations in terms of shelter.” His words: “We are collaborating with the National Housing Fund, but the Delta Mortgage Bank is keying into the Sovereign Wealth Fund to deliver houses to Deltans .The National Housing Fund operates with the Sovereign Wealth Fund. As we speak now, if you go to Asaba, they are working. In fact, it is a pilot scheme in Delta, Ogun and Adamawa states.”

“The National Housing Fund actually relates more with state mortgage banks, which is why for you to key into the scheme; the state must have a vibrant mortgage institution. Realizing the importance of mortgage, the state governor immediately restructured the Delta State Mortgage Bank on assumption of office to a vibrant institution.

Star projects

Speaking on star projects by Governor Okowa besides the secretariat building, he said: “The secretariat is one of the major star projects of this government but there are other star projects. For the first time, we are building a Trauma Centre which is first of its kind in the whole of the south- south. There is only one in Ondo state; it is going to be sited along Agbor-Asaba Expressway.”

“It is an emergency medical centre that will be fully equipped. We are also developing the first Teachers Development Centre to train teachers in the state. Today there is lack of self development. I think the type of teachers that taught me in those days is not the same type of teachers we have today. We felt the only way to strengthen the educational sector is to develop the teachers.-a kind of train the trainer programme. That is another star project of this government. There are things that are completely new.

“Asaba is usually flooded during the rainy season but if you go to Asaba now, it is wearing a new look. Major sewage not just gutters are being erected in Asaba. We are starting the Okerenkoko new town project, which began under the former governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan regime. Part of it will serve as residential quarters for the Nigerian Maritme University. You remember the place was completely destroyed. So, there are a lot of star projects we are embarking on that we can show to justify his re-election in 2019,” he stated.

Okowa has done well

The Commissioner, who expressed satisfaction with the performance of his boss, told Saturday Vanguard: “If we are sincere with ourselves, there are states that owe salaries. As we speak, some are up to six or seven months or thereabout. With destruction of oil facilities by the Avengers in the early part of this government, Governor Okowa has proved himself to be a good manger of resources. Delta state has not owed civil servants salaries. He managed the state in a way that we are able to pay salaries and still able to do many things.”

“We came into partnership with a lot of partners. Most of them have been doing well. He has employed lots of strategies to manage the little resources in the state. In Isoko for example where I come from, there are a lot of things I can point to. My people are aware because development is physical. For example, if I want to talk of human capital development, the YAGEP and STEP programmes have helped a lot of people in my area. Not to talk of road infrastructure and many other things he has done. There are many reasons to tell people to allow him go back for a second term. If he can manage the little, he can manage the much, that is what the Bible says. It is also said if you cannot be faithful with little, you cannot be faithful with much.

Emma Amaize

Maintain integrity, fairness, CJN urges ESVARBON’s disciplinary body

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has called on the just inaugurated Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) disciplinary tribunal, to ensure integrity and fairness in the course of performing its duties.

Citing the trust reposed in the tribunal members, Onnoghen made the charge at the inauguration of the 12-man tribunal member, headed by Sir Nweke Umezueruike, with an assessor, who is an appointee of the CJN, Barrister Kenneth Ahia and Ifeanyi Uzonwanne. the Registrar, ESVARBON, as the Secretary.

Other members of the tribunal include President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuer (NIESV), Rowland Abonta, Messrs Peter Ozili, Victor Alonge, Olurotimi Onabanjo and Joachin Onyike, an Associate Professor.

Others include Messrs Elsie Richard, Stephen Mayaki, Sola Fatoki, Omotola Nwazomoh and Prof. G.O. Udo, all estate surveyors.

While inaugurating the tribunal, a notary public, barrister Okafor, who performed the duty on behalf of the CJN, urged members to be above board in discharge of their duties.

According to him, the tribunal is the most important extra-judicial tribunal in the country given the fact that its decisions are appeal-able only to the highest court in the land.

He said with this responsibility placed on them, it shows the trust of the CJN on the member, thereby urging them not to let Onnoghen and the entire public down.

Comparing the ESVARBON’s tribunal to other professional bodies’ tribunal, Okafor said while others’ decision were appeal-able at the Court of Appeal, the one for the estate surveyors could only be appealed at the apex court in the land.

In his reaction, the Tribunal chairman said the tribunal, which is empowered by section 13 of the ESVARBON Act, would no longer wait for all matters to be reported to it.”Therefore, going forward, the tribunal is empowered to take up any matter over which it has cognizance.

“According to the Act that establishes the tribunal, it charges it with the duty of considering and determining any case referred to it by the investigating panel and any other case of which the tribunal has cognizance”,said Umezueruike, who vowed to rid the estate surveying’ fold of bad eggs, promising to discharge its duties without fear of favour.

According to him, while every registered person believes that the Board has the big stick, not many of them have seen the big stick wielded, which may have made people feel the board is toothless or that it has teeth but does not bite.

Sir Umezueruike stressed that the tribunal will start work with an impending case, which the investigative panel has already established a prima facie case.

The tribunal, he said will prove to the Nigerian public that it is serious and will work without fear or favour.

He therefore urged members of the public to come out with any grievances against any registered members.

The chairman added: “While every registered person believes that the board has the big stick, not many have seen the big stick wielded. That may have made people feel that the board is toothless or that it has teeth but cannot bite.

“In the area of enforcement of discipline, it is no longer going to be business as usual. The board may have waited for cases of professional misconduct to be reported to it, without using the powers conferred on it by Section 13 of the Act setting it up. That section charges the tribunal with the duty of considering and determining any case referred to it by the investigating panel and any other case of which the tribunal has cognizance.”

According to him, no group can call itself a profession unless there are rules guiding the practitioners. “Over the years, we have heard complaints of professionals who have not behaved properly. The board has not been able to show to members of the public that proper behaviour is expected of all members. The board will not just enforce discipline, but is also willing to wield the big stick.

“Having noticed that, and willing to guide the Board and the tribunal to start taking on such cases of which it has cognizance, I wish to take this opportunity to encourage members of the public not to continue shying away from making complaints to the Board. People should not just complain if they suffer loss by the action of the registered persons. There is now hope for redress,” he added.

Tunde Alao

 

Lagos Land Bureau introduces new reform to enhance real estate business

The recent reforms put in place by the Lagos State government in the Land Bureau, the department in charge of land administration in the state, have not only improve the needed services, but also continue to enhance ease of doing business, in all ramifications.

Speaking on the efforts by government to simplify ease of doing business, as exemplified in land administration, Mrs.Yetunde Onabule, who is the Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state on Urban Development noted that with the objective of making the processes of doing business easier, the Bureau has commenced the review of its systems and policies to create a”One-Stop-Shop capable of facilitating unhindered an secured access to all factors of production, namely; Land, Capital Labour and Entrepreneurship, chiefly the land”, said Onabule.

According to her, the Bureau had also redesigned the layout of the Land Registry to ensure flow of the processes and transactions which, ultimately reduced turn-around-time (TAT).

“This culminated in the reduction of the number of units within the Land Registry from 11 to three. In line with the law, the requirement for a sworn Affidavit to conduct Title seech at the Registry is no longer required. This is to further make the process faster and less cumbersome.

“Furthermore”, she argued: “as part of our efforts to improve the Easeof doing Business in Lagos State,the Land Bureau, through the Directorate of Land Services, have also harmonished it’s Demand Notice/Assessment Letter to encompass all fees payable for Governor’s Consent”, she said, adding that the demand notice now outlines the harmonised fees to include Consent Fee, Capital Gain Tax, Stamp Duty,Charting Fee,as well as Endorsement as well as Form1c Charge.

The Special Adviser also hinted that in addition to the newly introduced payment regime, automated searches at the Land Registry are conducted within one hour of submission of any such request, which means that applicants are no longer required to conduct search prior to registration of title documents.

“With this newly introduced process, there is significant reduction in the time frame for obtaining the Certified True Copies (CTC), of land title documents to a maximum period of two hours.

“The Bureau remains committed to propel the country’s place of Ease of Doing Business table by up to 50 places. I’m in no doubt that by the time these initiatives are fully implemented, they will revolutionise land administration, not only in Lagos State, but in Nigeria at large,” Onabule said.

Tunde Alao

Housing will be subsidized for low income earners- Gov. Dickson

JUST as Bayelsans have continued to pass through the harrowing experience of the high cost of rent, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has said part of his new year policy programmes would be directed to address the housing deficit and its attendant pain of high cost of rent in the state.

Dickson gave the assurance at the maiden monthly transparency briefing for the New Year held at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, Yenagoa.

He reiterated that the Restoration Government would prioritise investment in the housing sector to salvage the burden of high cost of rent and to provide affordable accommodation for low and middle-class income earners in the state.

He said, ‘’100 hectares of land has been acquired and mapped out at Agbura and Ayama communities in Yenagoa and Southern Ijaw local government areas targeted at low and middle-income earners.

According to him, 800 hectares of land has also been earmarked for the new Yenagoa City, across the Epie Creek at the Government Reserved Area, GRA.

The Governor urged Bayelsans to take advantage of the opportunity, assuring that, they would receive their certificate of occupancy within 60 days, as the state government has liberalised the process since inception in 2012.

Presenting the income and expenditure profile of the state for the months of November and December 2017, the Governor said the government recorded a deficit balance of about N1.4 billion in November.

According to him, the state government received a gross inflow of N12.4 billion while total deductions from the federation account stood at N1.6 billion, leaving a balance of N10.8 billion.

Dickson said a total of N8.5 billion was expended on outflows, which include, N3.6 billion for civil servant salaries while that of political appointees gulped N293 million.

He explained that capital and recurrent payments stood at about N5.8 billion.

Also rendering the financial profile for the month of December, the Governor explained that the state received N12.2 billion as gross inflow, while total deductions at source amounted to N1.6billion leaving the state with a balance of about N10.6 billion.

On outflows, he said bank deductions gulped N3.6 billion, salaries of civil servants N3.6 billion, while capital and recurrent expenditure stood at N7.5 billion.

Austin Ebipade

 

 

VP Osinbajo to perform groundbreaking of EDPA, MIXTA Africa’s 1, 800-unit project

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said arrangements are in top gear for the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of the 1, 800-unit housing project being constructed through a joint-venture partnership between the Edo Development and Property Agency (EDPA) and MIXTA Africa, a private real estate developer.

Obaseki said this during a tour of facilities at Time Ceramics Nigeria Limited, located in Utesi, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area, Edo State.

He said, “The Vice President will be visiting the state on June 14, to perform the ground-breaking ceremony, to kick-start construction work for the 1,800-unit project to be developed by the state government in joint partnership with MIXTA Africa.”

He noted that the state government will ensure that MIXTA Africa sources supply of tiles for the housing project from Time Ceramics, noting that the Chinese firm deploys top-of-the-range technology in manufacturing quality tiles.

Obaseki assured the company’s management that the state government will support its growth, adding, “We will assist the company to secure contracts for the supply of tiles for the Federal Government’s housing development projects across the country.” Explaining that foreign investors will only be attracted to the state when local investors are doing well, he said, “Our focus is to be acquainted with what the local investors are doing to see how we can improve their businesses. This will be done by ensuring that the business environment is conducive to guarantee profits on investment.”

Meanwhile, Executive Chairman, EDPA, Isoken Omo, noted that the agency was working with MIXTA Africa to ensure that the project site is ready for the ground-breaking ceremony, adding that the event would mark the first housing project in the state after 16 years.

She said, “We are committed to this project and want to assure the people that we will deliver on our promises. The project is going to be a major pull for residents and those in the Diaspora to invest in bespoke real estate in Benin. We assure that some level of structure would be on ground for the ceremony by the Vice President. This is to show how serious the state government and MIXTA Africa are to deliver on the project.”

Omo added that during the ground-breaking ceremony, balloting would be organised to select the first 30 property owners to benefit from the project, assuring that in a year’s time, about 200 units will be ready.

Head, Sales and Marketing, MIXTA Africa, Korede Lawrence-Salu, said MIXTA Africa, would work round the clock to deliver on the project, assuring on delivery of high quality, valuable housing stock.

Lawrence-Salu noted, “after we sealed the deal to construct the 1,800-unit project, we have been inundated with enquiries from those willing to have a stake. So we are confident about this project. We have recorded high interest, especially among Edo people in the diaspora too.”

Vanguard

Ibeto’s global foray and Africa’s huge housing deficits

Recently, the airwaves were rife with the heartwarming news of Ibeto cement company limited completing a historic reverse merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a United States of America publicly traded petroleum exploration and production company. With Ibeto Cement’s acquisition of 70% majority control of Century Petroleum Corp. resulting in the reverse merging of Ibeto Cement’s assets into Century Petroleum, Dr. Cletus M. Ibeto took over the reigns as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Speaking on the milestone development, an obviously delighted Dr. Ibeto said this is “in line with our collective dreams to place Nigeria in its rightful place in the comity of nations”; and “lauded stakeholders in the historic merger which will improve the level of actualization of the huge Cement business opportunities around Africa.” These include the government, shareholders, investors, and the larger Nigerian society.

One unique factor in this potentially impactful advancement is the vehicle. The two entities’ strategy introduced reverse mergers – a hitherto not so popular approach – into the Nigerian business lexicon. According to Wikipedia, “a reverse takeover or reverse merger takeover (reverse IPO) is the acquisition of a public company by a private company so that the private company can bypass the lengthy and complex process of going public. The transaction typically requires reorganization of capitalization of the acquiring company.” Comparatively, reverse mergers can also be quite cost effective and concluded in record time.

Surprisingly, Ibeto’s bold and innovative use of this vehicle was not simply with a local firm in Nigeria or even in Africa but in the very regulatory-stringent United States. This is strong testament to the abounding potentials in today’s global village and economy. The merger of Ibeto cement and Century petroleum bestrides two key sectors of the Nigerian economy: cement as well as petroleum. While it is popular knowledge that latter remains at the core of our national economy, cement is also a key indicator of any economy.

It has long been traditional economic wisdom that the sufficiency of housing or lack therefore in a country is directly proportional to its level of economic development. A report by Morgan Stanley, a United States multinational financial services firm states that “cement consumption per capita tends to rise initially with rising GDP per capita but then falls as countries mature economically.” The country’s construction industry/sector is only 3.2% of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP. Drawing from this fact, World Bank statistics confirm 60% of Nigeria’s estimated population of over 180 million (projected to grow between 3.8% and 4.5% per annum) is caught in the trap of homelessness. Massive urbanization and infrastructural development are thus in the visible horizons. The country is projected to become one of the top twenty economies in the world in eight years time – by 2020.

As it is in Nigeria so in Africa generally: African nations are currently at the low end of cement consumption relative to other emerging economies. With growing populations, it is predicted that consumption of cement in Sub-Saharan Africa will grow by an average of between 7% and 10% year on year over the next two decades. Yet, Nigeria and Senegal are the only two countries in the entire West African sub region that are blessed with limestone deposits in commercial quantities. This industry is thus a major development contributor not only in local housing needs but also as a major foreign exchange earner. We will be the better for encouraging local manufacturers like Ibeto Cement who dare to build Nigeria’s footprint in the global economy.

Plaudits belong to the Federal Government of Nigeria whose national Backward Integration Policy (BIP) on cement and call to increase local production of cement spurred Ibeto Cement Company Limited’s acquisition of the premier Nigeria Cement Company Limited (Nigercem). Nigercem has a plant located in Nkalagu, Ebonyi State. The strategic acquisition of Nigercem is aimed at expediting Ibeto Cement’s local production of cement by resuscitating the Nigercem plant and developing the project as a brand new dry process plant. The Company is also developing another 6,000 Metric Tons Per Day (TPD) Cement plant at Cross River State/Abia State of Nigeria.

Ibeto Cement Company Limited, located in Bundu Ama, Port Harcourt, Rivers State of Nigeria, began cement bagging operations at its bagging terminal in Port Harcourt in 2005. It is an ultra-modern bagging plant with a flat-storage capacity of 50,000 metric tons and a production capacity of 1,500,000 metric tons per annum, which translates to a production capacity of 4,000+ metric tons per day. It has two (2) production lines, each with a capacity of 2, 700 of 5okg bags per hour or designed total production capacity of 5, 400 of 50kg bags per hour. An integral part of this plant facility is a modern purpose-built jetty (Ibeto jetty) that can take in ships of 190+ metres long with sophisticated and state-of-the-art ship unloaders and mounted at the waterfront on the jetty to facilitate discharge of bulk cement from offshore/foreign mother vessels.

From many angles, Ibeto Global points the way forward for us as we trudge the path towards sustainable economic development. Nigerians and Nigerian entities playing in the global market provide a paradigm shift from dependency to partnership and the benefits accruing from increasing the value we bring to the table in the global markets.

Anthony Ajero

FG to remove VAT on residential properties, amends company income tax law

The federal executive council has approved two executive orders and five amendment bills to remove value-added tax on residential properties and amend the company income tax law.

While briefing state house correspondents on Wednesday, Kemi Adeosun, the minister of finance, said the amendments will reduce the tax burden on Nigeria and boost ease of doing business.

NAN reports that the two approved executive orders are: Value Added Tax Act (Modification) Order and Review of Goods Liable to Excise Duties and Applicable Rate Order while the five Amendment Bills include the Companies Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill and Value Added Tax Act (Amendment) Bill.

Others are Customs, Excise, Tariff ETC (Consolidation) Act (Amendment) Bill; Personal Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill and Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (Amendment) Bill.

She said the approval is based on a report by the national tax policy implementation committee on tax laws reform.

Adeosun said the new tax policies would remove obsolete, ambiguous and contradictory provisions in the laws, increase government revenue and simplify the process of paying taxes and doing business.

“Majority of the provisions approved today are actually removing the tax burden and clarifying obsolete and ambiguous areas of tax. So for example for VAT there is to be an exemption for residential property, leases on rental, transport for the general public and life insurance,” she said.

“These are areas that previously were VAT-able and what was approved today was that these areas should be removed, then, they shouldn’t be subject to VAT.

“In the short term, of course, that means a revenue loss for the government. But we think in the long run that is the right thing to do is improving ease of doing business and reducing the tax burden on our people which is really one of the objectives of this government.”

She disclosed that the government was proposing an amendment to the company income tax aimed at reducing the Right of Tax on micro, small and medium enterprises (SME) from 20% to 15%.

Adeosun said the council approved N1.6billion for the procurement of 68 anti-smuggling vehicles for the Nigeria Customs Service.

“The operational vehicles currently available for the NCS is grossly inadequate for effective anti-smuggling activities.

“The need to effectively patrol the borders of the country, enhance Customs’ bid to suppress smuggling and increase revenue collection gave rise to the request to purchase 68 operational vehicles.”

The Cable

NMRC issues N11b Series II Bond

• Records 200% over-subscription

The Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) said it has completed its N11billion 13.80 per cent Series 2 Bond Issuance under its N440 billion Medium Term Note Programme. It said it is part of its primary mandate of providing liquidity to the country’s mortgage market.

The net proceeds of the exercise will be used to refinance eligible mortgage loans originated by the participating mortgage lending banks. This is coming on the heels of its inaugural N8 billion 14.9 per cent Series 1 Bond issue in July 2015 – which was fully deployed towards refinancing legacy mortgage loan portfolios of the participating eligible member-mortgage lending banks.

The Series 2 Bonds are unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and thus ascribed an “AAA” rating by both Global Credit Rating Co. and Agusto & Co. The order book was subscribed by over 200per cent. The bonds were subscribed to by domestic investors with the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) representing over 70 per cent of the investors. The bonds were priced at a spread of c.74 basis points above the interpolated 15-year FGN yield of 13.06 per cent as at the opening of book building.

The Managing Director, NMRC, Mr. Kehinde Ogundimu, said: “The bond issuance reinforces our commitment to encourage and promote homeownership in Nigeria by linking the capital markets with the housing sector and establishing an operating and viable secondary mortgage market to support the primary mortgage market.”

He said NMRC remains committed to transmitting the full benefit of the pricing efficiency achieved in its funding cost to home borrowers through the participating primary mortgage lenders, thereby lowering costs and driving activities that will deepen the mortgage market.

Chairman of Dunn Loren Merrifield Advisory Partners, Mr. Sonnie Ayere, stated that the high subscription level for the Series 2 bonds is indicative of the strong investor appetite for the long-tenured asset class and underscores the confidence reposed in the underlying principle and operating model of NMRC.

The Nation

Stakeholders to FG: Compel CBN, banks to fund NHF

Housing stakeholders have tasked the Federal Government on policy that will compel the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banks, insurance firms and others to provide funds for the National Housing Fund (NHF) as stipulated by its Act.

This is coming barely a week the House of Representatives Committee on Housing led by its chairman, Mr. Ahmed Baba-Kaita, fingered the failure of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks and insurance firms to perform their duties as a major shortcoming to NHF inefficiency.

The committee also investigated the non-compliance with the National Housing Fund (NHF) Act and the inability of government to deliver housing to the citizenry.

Speaking with New Telegraph in Lagos, former President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Chucks Omeife, urged the Federal Government to push policy that will compel CBN, banks and commercial banks to make their contributions to NHF.

He said the case has become complicated when the Federal Government that was expected to show interest in the buoyancy of NHF was found wanting, saying this was the main reason the scheme has not been working.

“Government must push policy that will compel stakeholders to contribute certain percentage of their profits to NHF,” he said.

Also, Principal Partner, Kola Akomolede and Co., Chief Kola Akomolede, tasked government on the need for banks and insurance firms to remit their contributions to the NHF scheme.

Decree 3 of 1992 (now an Act), which established NHF, a pool of long-term funds aimed at overcoming the dearth of long-tenured capital, granted FMBN the responsibility to collect, manage and administer NHF.

The Act identifies cheap, sizable and ‘patient’ resources to fund the scheme. These are contributions of 2.5 per cent of the monthly income of all Nigerian workers earning the sum of N3,000 per annum and above.

According to the Act, 10 per cent of the loan portfolio of commercial banks in Nigeria, should be mandatorily invested in the NHF, while 40 per cent of life funds and 20 per cent of non-life funds of insurance companies registered under the Insurance Act, to be mandatorily invested in real property, with no less than 50 per cent invested directly into NHF.

Also, this includes financial contributions of the Federal Government.To this end, the House of Representatives Committee on Housing recommended that such contributors should be compelled to provide funds for NHF as provided in the Act.

Besides, the committee also canvassed that the Federal Government should recapitalise the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to the tune of N500 billion.

This, the committee said, has become necessary to make the bank more vibrant and responsive to its functions for effective housing delivery in the country.

The recommendation to recapitalise the bank was contained in the report of the House Committee on Housing, which lawmakers considered and approved.

The committee also recommended that FMBN be given necessary government support in areas like guarantee, recapitalisation and allocations to empower the bank for maximum productivity.
These steps, the House Committee said, should be taken to review the provisions of the NHF Act to make it more enforceable.

Opposing the creation of another agency, it said: “Existing Federal Government institutions should be supported rather than creating new ones to avoid duplication of functions.”

Chairman, HOB Estates Limited, Chief Olusegun Bamgbade, said the inability of banks to give long-term loans for real estate was one of the major reasons the economy has not really picked up.

He pointed out that the only organisation mostly responsible for real estate development has been FMBN, lamenting that it was unfortunately that the bank had not been effective in this area, especially on Developers’ National Housing Fund (NHF) settlements.

Bamgbade attributed delay, unnecessary charges and high interests on loans as major obstacles to the bank’s performance.

He said: “FMBN would rather keep you as a perpetual EDL client than taking pragmatic steps towards inter-account settlements, thereby charging unnecessary and obnoxious interests on an account that ought to have been cleared many years back.

“FMBN is always in the habit of scheming and blaming the developer for its ineptitudes.”

To really grow real estate development in Nigeria in practical terms, Bamgbade said the mind-set of frustrating genuine real estate developers must be addressed by FMBN.

Until this happens, “there can’t be any serious growth in real estate sector,” he said.

Dayo Ayeyemi

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