FEC approves N8.49bn to procure COVID-19 items
The Federal Government has warned state governors to stop imposition and collection of taxes from miners in their states. This was part of the resolution of the 11th virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday.
The Council also approved the sum of N8.49 billion for the procurement of 12 items in various quantities for the testing of Coronavirus (COVID-19) by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Briefing newsmen after the Council meeting, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that miners are only required to pay taxes to the central government since their activities fall within the provision of the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He said the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning had already been mandated by the Council to deduct taxes already collected by the state governments from their federal allocations. The Council, however, advised states interested in making money from mining to incorporate companies in order to participate in the trade. Mohammed said: “The Minister of Mines and Steel Development presented a memo which largely was to ask for Council’s approval to address the major challenges the mining industry is facing. Among the challenges the industry is facing, according to the minister, is that of insecurity in certain parts of the country. Notably in the North-Western part of the country, mining has been suspended because of the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
“The industry is also faced with the problem of collision between some stakeholders, sometimes the traditional rulers. Also, the minister explained that the issue of double taxation is actually driving a lot of investors out of the country. “On the issue of double taxation, whereby mining companies are taxed by local and state governments; two decisions were taken.
One is that the Council directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to deduct directly from federal accounts allocations of states which have deprived Federal Government of Nigeria’s revenue due to it by position of illegal taxes and levies on mining companies in their states. “In other words, if a particular state engages in double taxation, you are imposing illegal taxes on a duly registered mining company and it is reported to government, the Ministry of Finance will deduct that money from your allocation. The intent is to ensure that we don’t scare away investors, be local or foreign.
This will go a long way to reassure the investors that Nigeria is a safe place to invest now. “It was also directed that the National Economic Council (NEC) should also dialogue with the governors and let them understand that states can participate in mining as corporate bodies. “In other words, states can register companies and participate in mining.
But they cannot come there as sub-national authorities because the law is very clear. The Federal Government has exclusive right to mine and manage all mineral resources.” Mohammed also disclosed that the Council has directed the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to facilitate the erection of central magazines (special storage facilities) across the six geo-political zones for storage of explosives for mining purposes. He said the Council reasoned that the initial suggestion of storing explosives in military barracks was grossly unsafe. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his briefing, disclosed that the Council approved N8.49 billion for materials required in preparation for community transmission of COVID-19 currently affecting over 586 local government areas in the country.
He said: “We have already made plans to have at least one sample collection centre in every local government, minimum of 774 and these resources will be necessary to go around the 774 local government areas to ensure that persons in rural areas and small towns are not excluded and to ensure that not only the big cities are the ones that are being attended to. So that is the basis for the memo.” On why the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 was reluctant to introduce rapid test kits which makes results available in minutes as against PCR (polymerise chain reaction) tests, Ehanire said even though the method has been adopted globally, it was largely unreliable.
He, however, added that scientists are working assiduously to improve the quality of accuracy of the rapid test method. Asked why the PTF could not enforce its protocols at burials and campaigns rallies as seen recently in the burial of Senator Buruji Kashamu and the APC governorship rally in Edo State, the minister said they could only appeal to the people to take personal responsibility by putting on their masks, avoiding mass gatherings, keeping social distancing, maintaining very good hygiene, washing their hands or using hand sanitizers. Minister of Environment, Mahmood Abubakar, said the Council approved his memo seeking to mainstream gender within the climate change action plan of the government. He said: “What does it mean to mainstream gender? Women bearing the main brunt implies that we will take particular steps to make sure that women are involved in planet action activities right from inception, design, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects.”