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Dangote refinery: Crude supply crisis threatens oil investments, operators warn FG

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The recent developments in Nigeria’s oil sector, particularly surrounding the Dangote Petroleum Refinery and the broader issues of domestic crude oil supply, have raised significant concerns among industry stakeholders and observers.

  1. Accusations and Denials: The Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) of deliberately frustrating the Dangote refinery’s efforts to source local crude oil. He alleged that IOCs were inflating prices or claiming unavailability, forcing the refinery to import crude at higher costs from distant countries like the United States. These actions, according to Edwin, hinder the refinery’s viability and perpetuate Nigeria’s dependence on imported refined products.
  2. Response from Government and Regulators: The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) refuted claims of issuing licenses for importing substandard fuel into Nigeria, countering allegations made by Dangote refinery officials. The government emphasized that steps were being taken to ensure compliance with regulations and quality standards in the importation of refined products.
  3. Industry Impact: The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) highlighted the potential damage to investor confidence due to these disputes. They stressed the importance of resolving issues around crude oil pricing, supply contracts, and logistics costs promptly to maintain a favorable investment climate in the oil and gas sector. The chamber called for transparency and fair dealings among all parties involved, urging the government to play a regulatory role effectively.
  4. Investment Concerns: Stakeholders, including modular refinery operators and industrialists, expressed concerns over the implications of ongoing supply disputes on Nigeria’s oil sector investment attractiveness. They emphasized the need for regulatory clarity and fair practices to sustain investor trust and support local refining capacity.
  5. Path Forward: The LCCI advocated for continued dialogue and negotiation among stakeholders to resolve these critical issues. They emphasized the role of effective regulation and adherence to international best practices in fostering a competitive and sustainable oil and gas sector in Nigeria.

In summary, the domestic crude oil supply crisis and related accusations underscore significant challenges facing Nigeria’s oil industry. Resolving these issues requires collaborative efforts among government regulators, IOCs, refineries, and other stakeholders to ensure fair practices, regulatory compliance, and sustainable investment in the sector.

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NCAA Suspends 10 Private Jet Operators Over Failure To Commence Rectification Process

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The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended 10 private jet operators over failure to commence the recertification process.

A statement signed by NCAA’s Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Michael Achimugu, said the suspension was rooted in its Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2023 Part 18.3.4 which forbids holders of Permit for Non-Commercial Flights (PNCF) from using their aircraft for carriage of passengers, cargo or mail for hire or reward which is commercial operation or charter service.The suspended operators are Azikel Dredging Nigeria Ltd, Bli-Aviation Safety Services, Ferry Aviation Developments Ltd, Matrix Energy Ltd, Marrietta Management Services Ltd, Worldwide Skypaths Services, Mattini Airline Services Ltd, Aero Lead Ltd, Sky Bird Air Ltd and Ezuma Jets Ltd.The authority also warned that engaging PNCF holders for commercial purposes is illegal.

It said, “And It will not hesitate to initiate enforcement actions against any PNCF holder found guilty of illegal operations.”

In April, the NCAA suspended three private jet operators’ permits for commercial flights.The Acting Director General of the NCAA, Chris Najomo, at the time, said the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, gave marching orders for the cessation of the use of private jets for commercial purposes in 2023 but the operators continued in such act.“Subsequently, in March 2024, the NCAA had issued a stern warning to holders of the permit for non-commercial flights, PNCF, against engaging in the carriage of passenger-cargo or mail for hire and reward,” Najomo stated.“The Authority had also deployed its officials to monitor activities of private jets at terminals across the airports in Nigeria.

“As a consequence of this heightened surveillance, no fewer than three private operators are involved in violation of the annexure provision of their PNCF and Part 9114 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2023.“In line with our zero tolerance for violation of regulations, the Authority has suspended the PNCF of these operators.”

The regulator had also directed that all non-commercial flight permit holders be re-evaluated on or before April 19, 2024.

“All PNCF holders will be required to submit relevant documents to the authority within the next 72 hours.“This riot act is also directed at existing Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders, who utilise aircraft listed on their PNCF for commercial charter operations.”The regulator stressed that only aircraft listed in the Operation Specifications of the AOC were authorised to be used in the provision of such charter services.“Any of those AOC holders who wish to use the aircraft for charter operations must apply to the NCAA to delist the affected aircraft from the PNCF and include it into the AOC operations specification.”The NCAA urged the travelling public not to patronise any airline charter operator who does not hold a valid Air Operator Certificate issued by the NCAA.

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FG Exempts Farmers, Manufacturers, SMEs From Paying Withholding Tax

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Recently, the Federal Government of Nigeria has implemented significant changes to the withholding tax regime, exempting certain categories of entities to foster a more favorable business environment. This development was confirmed by Taiwo Oyedele, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, in a post on social media.

According to Oyedele, the reforms aim to address various challenges and introduce exemptions and reduced rates under the new withholding tax regime. Key highlights include:

  1. Exemption for Small Businesses: Small businesses are now exempted from withholding tax compliance, which simplifies their tax obligations and reduces administrative burdens.
  2. Reduced Rates for Low-margin Businesses: Businesses with low profit margins will benefit from reduced withholding tax rates, acknowledging their financial constraints.
  3. Exemptions for Manufacturers and Farmers: Manufacturers and producers, such as farmers, are also exempted from withholding tax. This exemption aims to support these sectors crucial to economic growth.
  4. Measures Against Evasion: The reforms include measures to curb tax evasion and minimize tax avoidance, ensuring more effective revenue collection for the government.
  5. Ease of Credit and Utilization: The reforms facilitate easier access to credit and the utilization of tax deducted at source, enhancing liquidity for businesses.

Oyedele highlighted that these changes reflect emerging issues and adopt global best practices in tax administration. The new regulations are expected to be officially published in the gazette soon, providing clarity on the timing of deductions and defining key terms related to withholding tax.

Withholding tax, introduced in Nigeria in 1977, serves as an advance payment of income tax on specified transactions. Its primary objectives are to provide regular revenue to the government and combat tax evasion by ensuring taxes are deducted at the source of income.

Overall, these reforms mark a proactive step by the Nigerian government towards creating a more simplified and business-friendly tax environment, supporting economic activities across various sectors and promoting sustainable growth.

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FG Clears $850m Debt To EU Airlines

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has successfully cleared a backlog of debts amounting to $850 million owed to European airlines. This significant achievement was announced by Samuela Isopi, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, during the 9th edition of the Nigeria – EU Business Forum held in Abuja.

Ambassador Isopi commended the Nigerian government for taking action to settle the outstanding debts. She also praised the government’s decision to lift foreign exchange restrictions on the importation of forty-three items, which has been viewed positively by the EU.

Nigeria remains a crucial economic partner for the EU, with bilateral trade reaching approximately 35 billion Euros in the past year. Additionally, the EU is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, with investments valued at around 26 billion Euros, representing a significant portion of Nigeria’s foreign direct investment.

Isopi highlighted the presence of over 230 EU companies operating in Nigeria, contributing to job creation particularly among youths and women. This underscores the economic ties and mutual benefits derived from the EU-Nigeria relationship.

The theme of the forum, ‘Investing in Jobs and Sustainable Future’, reflects the focus on fostering dialogue between the public and private sectors. It aims to emphasize the role of government in supporting businesses to achieve inclusive development, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable economic growth and job creation.

The forum was attended by key figures including Myriam Ferran, Director General at the EU, Atiku Bagudu, Minister of Budget and National Planning, and Nura Rimi, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. It provided a platform to discuss strategies for enhancing economic cooperation and investment opportunities between Nigeria and the EU.

Overall, the successful settlement of airline debts and the positive outcomes highlighted at the forum signify a strengthening of economic relations between Nigeria and the European Union, with a focus on mutual prosperity and sustainable development.

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