SON’s Double Standard

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Dangote

DANGOTE Group will not compromise on the quality of its products, including cement. The company stated this against the background of the ongoing debate on the appropriate quality of cement in the Nigerian market and the environmental impact of cement production plants on the host communities. Anthony Chiejina, head of corporate communication, Dangote Group, said the company had adhered strictly to acceptable best global practices in cement production. The group stated that it had no issue with cement quality, which had recently become a subject of controversy. Chiejina said the company had been manufacturing the best quality cement, the 42.5 grade.

He explained that the quality of products from all the Dangote cement plants was being controlled by robot to eliminate any human error. He also said that the emission at all the company’s cement factories had been in tandem with the global requirements because it deployed the latest technology that reduced noise and emission to the barest minimum.

Chiejina recalled that the issue of environmental pollution from some factories in Ogun State had attracted a petition to the state House of Assembly which has prompted it to hold a public hearing on the issue. “However, it should be noted that Dangote Cement was not one of the companies summoned over the issue of pollution as the Ogun State House of Assembly Committee on Environment said it was satisfied with the operations of the Dangote Group within the state,” he said.

Meanwhile, Devarkuma Edwin, group managing director, Dangote Cement, has explained why the company chose to concentrate on the production of the 42.5 cement grade. According to him, the cement grade possesses higher strength capability and is mostly preferred by block moulders, builders and construction workers. He said that prior to the nation attaining self-sufficiency in cement production, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, had stipulated that the 42.5 grade was the acceptable standard for imported cement which all importers must comply. He wondered why the Standard Organisation of Nigeria  should insist on the 42.5 as the standard grade for import and then allow a lower grade in terms of local production.

Investment Risks in Nigeria

Bello
Bello

THE Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has said the 48-hour deadline set by the federal government for the clearance of cargo at the seaports is far from attainment. It said the delay in clearing cargo at the ports was having serious effects on the cost of doing business. Remi Bello, president, LCCI, said the delay had become a major cause for concern for the business community. He listed the implications of the current situation to include high demurrage charges and disruption of production schedules as raw materials were not delivered in good time to factories. Others, according to him, are high risk of corruption at the ports; risk of exacerbation of inflation; and high cost of borrowed funds by importers. “One of the major shortcomings of the investment environment in Nigeria is the speed of cargo clearance at the ports; the 48-hour target set by government is far from being achieved,” he said.

According to Bello, the delays in the positioning of cargo at the port terminals are caused by inadequate equipment for cargo handling; high incidence of cargo block-stacking; poor access roads to the ports; and poor road network within the ports. Others, according to him, are frequent breakdown of the server of the Nigeria Customs Service; delays in cargo release from shipping lines; and tight deadlines for cargo examination booking.

“Above all, the rail system designed to evacuate cargo from the Lagos ports need to be resuscitated as a matter of utmost urgency. The menace of trucks, trailers and tankers on Lagos roads, in particular, and the national road network in general, has assumed an unbearable dimension.”

FIRS Introduces New Tax Regime

Mashi
Mashi

THE Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has introduced a new tax regime for multinationals and enterprises operating in the country. Kabir Mashi, acting executive chairman, FIRS, said the development involved an exposure to various guidelines needed to file transfer pricing returns in line with the requisite regulations.

He said the new regime would guide against tax evasion. According to him, transfer pricing generally has to do with setting appropriate prices for goods, services, assets, intellectual properties and loan guarantees supplied or transferred from one enterprise to another. Mashi said that long before Nigeria adopted it, some African countries had used the rules of transfer pricing to address problems associated with profit shifting.

The FIRS boss urged stakeholders to cooperate with relevant authorities to make the new regime effective, “if indeed, we want to make our transfer pricing a model in Africa.” He stressed that the exercise would ensure multinationals were taxed on a basis corresponding to their economic activities in the country; lessen the risk of double taxation; and provide a level playing field for the multinationals and independent enterprises.

“These are the objectives and we need to translate them into a success story. If we all play by the rules, the regime of transfer pricing in Nigeria could reposition the country to a path of sustainable economic growth and rapid development. At the FIRS, our yearning is to implement the transfer pricing regime transparently, efficiently and effectively in order to promote voluntary compliance as enshrined in our mission statement.”

Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu

— Mar. 3, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

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