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FIRS Generates ₦4.9trn in 2020 meets 98% Target

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FIRS

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has announced a revenue collection for ₦4.9 trillion for the year 2020.

The figure represents approximately 98% of the national tax target of N5.076 trillion set for the agency by the Federal Government.

Speaking during a press conference in Abuja, FIRS Chairman, Muhammad Nami listed key sectors such as the banking, telecommunications and the ICT as major contributors to the feat.

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“The conscientious taxpayers in the country and dedicated members of staff of the FIRS nationwide for their support and devotion to work which made this performance possible despite the numerous obstacles encountered by the Service in 2020,” Nami said.

“The FIRS is optimistic this current fiscal year 2021 will be better than in 2020. We shall perform exceedingly well given that our Service reforms are expected to yield greater dividends, especially as different parts of tax administration are being automated.

“We are also optimistic that exploration activities will improve in the oil sector and increase the prospect of higher tax revenue from the sector.

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“Similarly, the ongoing reforms by the Service together with increased stakeholder collaborations will brighten the prospect of improved voluntary compliance and consequently higher tax revenue generation for the country this year and beyond.”

He said that the near 100% collection feat was all the more remarkable when placed against the backdrop of the debilitating effects of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy.

Figures released by the service showed that the non-oil tax collection was 109% in 2020, which is 9% higher than the previous year.

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Bitcoin Surges Above $44,000 After Elon Musk’s Tesla Buys $1.5bn Worth Of Bitcoin

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Tesla announced that the company will start accepting bitcoin as payment for its products in the nearby future as the company was trying to maximise returns on cash that is not being used in the day-to-day running of the company.

The move by billionaire Musk comes days after he added “#bitcoin” to his Twitter profile page,  another move that drove up the price.

Musk regularly talks up Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin, currencies he has endorsed.

In a stock market filing on Monday, February 8, Tesla said it “updated its investment policy” in January and now wanted to invest in “reserve assets” such as digital currencies, gold bullion or gold exchange-traded funds.

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It said it had already bought $1.5bn of Bitcoin and could “acquire and hold digital assets” in the future.

“Moreover, we expect to begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis,” it said.

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Musk announced last week that Bitcoin was “on the verge” of being more widely accepted among investors.

“I think we will see an acceleration of companies looking to allocate to Bitcoin now that Tesla has made the first move,” said Eric Turner, vice-president of market intelligence at cryptocurrency research firm Messari.

“One of the largest companies in the world now owns Bitcoin and by extension, every investor that owns Tesla, or even just an S&P 500 fund, has exposure to it as well.”

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Despite the rise of bitcoin, some banks remain sceptical of digital currencies. 

Nigeria’s central bank last week banned the use of cryptocurrency while in October, the Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey cautioned over Bitcoin’s use as a payment method.

“I have to be honest, it is hard to see that Bitcoin has what we tend to call intrinsic value,” he said. 

“It may have extrinsic value in the sense that people want it.”

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Every medium of exchange is subject to fraud and criminality – Kingsley Moghalu criticizes CBN’s reason for banning cryptocurrency transactions

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Kingsley Moghalu

The Former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu has criticized the Central Bank’s reason for banning cryptocurrency transactions in the country.

CBN had in a statement released on Sunday February 7, said it banned cryptocurrency transactions because they are largely speculative, anonymous, untraceable and are increasingly being used for money laundering, terrorism financing and other criminal activities. 

Reacting to this while appearing on an Arise TV program on Monday February 8, Moghalu stated that the excuse of “cryptocurrencies being used to perpetrate fraud” is not a serious argument. 

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The former presidential candidate in the interview averred that every medium of exchange is subject to fraud and criminality. Moghalu said all the apex bank needed to do, was come up with a regulatory framework that restricts the use of cryptocurrency or subjects it to some surveillance.

He said; 

 “Cryptocurrencies have their risks and the central bank should be concerned. The argument that cryptocurrencies are used to perpetrate fraud is not a serious argument.

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“People can use cryptocurrencies for wrong uses but every medium of exchange is subject to fraud and criminality.

“If you can manage the risk of fraud in paper money and other electronic platforms, why can’t you think of managing it with cryptocurrencies.

“I would have preferred some deep thinking about how to come up with a regulatory framework that restricts the use of cryptocurrency or subjects it to some surveillance that alerts the central bank if there are serious abuses that can affect financial system stability.

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“CBN, especially in my time, did have a tendency for innovation ourselves, so I don’t see why there should be some sort of declaration of a third world war between the central bank and cryptocurrency.

“An outright ban on financial institutions from having accounts associated with cryptocurrency exchanges or cryptocurrency trading, seems to me,  it wasn’t the best approach to the problem”.

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‘Crypto-Currency Is Being Used For Many Illegal Activities’ – CBN

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CBN BANS CRYPTO

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN has explained why it banned cryptocurrency-related transactions in the country. 

CBN in a statement released on Sunday February 7, said cryptocurrencies have become well-suited for conducting many illegal activities including money laundering, terrorism financing, purchase of small arms and light weapons, and tax evasion.

It read; 

“The use of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria are a direct contravention of existing law. 

“It is also important to highlight that there is a critical difference between a Central Bank issued Digital Currency and cryptocurrencies. As the names imply, while Central Banks can issue Digital Currencies, cryptocurrencies are issued by unknown and unregulated entities. 

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“The question that one may need to ask therefore is, why any entity would disguise its transactions if they were legal. 

“It is on the basis of this opacity that cryptocurrencies have become well-suited for conducting many illegal activities including money laundering, terrorism financing, purchase of small arms and light weapons, and tax evasion.

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“Many banks and investors who place a high value on reputation have been turned off from cryptocurrencies because of the damaging effects of the widespread use of cryptocurrencies for illegal activities.

“The role of cryptocurrencies in the purchase of hard and illegal drugs on the darknet website called “Silk Road” is well known. They have also been recent reports that cryptocurrencies have been used to finance terror plots, further damaging its image as a legitimate means of exchange.

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“More also, repeated and recent evidence now suggests that some cryptocurrencies have become more widely used as speculative assets rather than as means of payment, thus explaining the significant volatility and variability in their prices.”

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US Finally Supports Okonjo-Iweala As WTO-DG

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Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala

The United States under the Joe Biden’s administration on Friday gave their support to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general of the World Trade Organization, hours after South Korea’s trade minister stepped out of the race.

The decision was the last hurdle standing in the way of Ms. Okonjo-Iweala assuming the top job at the WTO, after South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee pulled out.

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Last year, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala was supported by a majority of WTO members, but the Trump administration backed Ms. Yoo, saying she was better qualified.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement Friday: “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister.”

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The statement added: “She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.”

The USTR added it “looks forward to working with a new WTO director-general to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.”

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to be the first woman and the first African to run the Geneva-based trade body.

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Nigeria’s External Reserves Hit $36.39bn On Improved Crude Oil Price

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Dollars

The external reserves stood at $36.39bn as of January 27, the latest figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria revealed.

Figures obtained from the CBN showed that the reserves, which commenced the year at $35.65bn, rose to $36.52bn as of January 25, before experiencing a slight decline.

On the external reserves position, the CBN noted that there had been an increase in the level of external reserves, which stood at $36.23bn as of January 21 compared with $34.94bn at the end of November 2020.

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It stated that this reflected improvements in crude oil prices, partial global economic recovery amid optimism over the discovery and distributions of COVID-19 vaccines by most developed economies.

The reserves had experienced declines in recent months due to low oil receipts.

External reserves as of October 30, 2020 fell by 0.3 per cent and 10.2 per cent to $35.58bn, compared with $35.67bn and $39.61bn at end-September 2020 and end-October 2019, respectively.

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The decrease was due, mainly, to the CBN’s objective of ensuring predictable macroeconomic environment through interventions in SMIS, BDC and I&E windows to stabilise the naira exchange rate.

The external reserves position in October could cover 7.9 months of import of goods and services and 10.6 months of import of goods only, according to the CBN.

It stated that Nigeria’s reserves per capita was $172.60 compared with $174.44 in September 2020.

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A breakdown of the external reserves by ownership showed that, the CBN had the largest share of $30.41bn (85.5 per cent) followed by the Federal Government with $5.10bn (14.3 per cent).

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