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Private jet owners drag FG to court over N30bn tax

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Owners of foreign-registered private jets, comprising top business moguls, leading commercial banks and other rich Nigerians, have dragged the Federal Government to court seeking to prevent the government from grounding their planes for allegedly refusing to pay import duty on the jets.
The Federal Government had last November approved the decision of the Nigeria Customs Service to ground 91 private jets belonging to some wealthy Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30bn.

As such, following a presidential approval, the NCS in a letter directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.

But owing to issues bothering on inter-agency rivalry and disagreements, the relevant government agencies could not ground the private jets.

However, in the past few months, the Customs has been making underground moves to perfect the process of grounding private jets whose owners failed to pay the import duty, multiple sources close to the development confirmed to The PUNCH on Tuesday.

Also,  further findings by our correspondents over the weekend revealed that at least 17 private jet owners had gone to court to stop the Federal Government from implementing the order.

According to the court papers, the jet owners are seeking a judicial review as to whether it is lawful for them to pay the controversial import duty on their private jets or not.

The jet owners had sued the government using the foreign shell companies and trustees through which the foreign-registered jets were purchased.

SEE ALSO:  Many Nigerians can no longer afford beer – NB CEO

Oftentimes, Nigerians and corporate bodies buy their foreign-registered private jets through foreign shell companies and trustees.  Experts believe they often prefer to register the jets in foreign countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Isle of Man, among others, to preserve the value of the aircraft in the event they want to sell it, as well as pay cheaper insurance premiums.

The latest findings showed that the jet owners had approached the Federal High Court Abuja seeking the court to determine, among other things, if they were liable to pay import duty.

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The suit, with number FHC/ABJ/CS/1565/2021, is described as the matter of an application for judicial review by foreign registered aircraft against the Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.

According to the court document, the 17 applicants, which are mostly foreign companies of the Nigerian jet owners are: Aircraft Trust and Financing Corp Trustee, UAML Corp, Bank of Utah Trustee, Masterjet AVIACAO Executive SA, and Cloud Services Limited.

Others are MHS Aviation GmbH, Murano Trust Company Limited, Panther Jets, SAIB LLC, Empire Aviation Group, and Osa Aviation Limited.

The list also includes BUA Delaware Inc, Flying Bull Corporation Limited, Air Charter Inc, Sparfell Luftahrt GmbH, WAT Aviation Limited, and ATT Aviation Limited.

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Cement price hike: FG threatens to open borders

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Cement price hike: FG threatens to open borders

The Federal Government says it might open the borders for cement importation, if manufacturers of the product fail to bring down the cost.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.

The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.

“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.

“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.

“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.

The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.

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“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper.

“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.

Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.

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He expressed his displeasure at the position of Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.

He said the association should not just fold its arms when things were going wrong.

“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.

“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salako James , Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.

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He, however, identified some areas of concerns and appealed to the government to look into them in order to tackle the issue of cement pricing.

Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.

He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.

He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.

NAN reports that at the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.

NAN also reports that the three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.

SEE ALSO:  UPDATED: How Top Nigerian Banker, 5 other family members died in California helicopter crash

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Many Nigerians can no longer afford beer – NB CEO

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Nigerian Breweries releases new prices of drinks

The Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Hans Essaadi, has said that the economic situation in Nigeria has deteriorated to the extent citizens can no longer afford to buy beer.

Essaadi said this on Monday at the company’s investor call following the release of its 2023 results.

“It has been unprecedented year for our business in Nigeria. We saw a significant decline in the mainstream lager market as a result of Nigerian consumers no longer able to afford a Goldberg after a hard day’s work,” Bloomberg quoted Essaadi as saying.

NB suffered a N153bn foreign exchange loss due to the devaluation of the naira for the year ended December 2023.

For the period under review, the company grew its revenue by 8.9 per cent to N599.64bn from N550.64bn. Net finance expense rose significantly by 449.7 per cent to N189.19bn, dragging the brewer to a loss of N106.31bn, from a gain of N13.19bn at the end of 2022.

In comments accompanying the financial results, the NB Board of Directors said, “The Nigeria business landscape experienced significant shifts in 2023 with substantial impact on businesses and livelihoods nationwide. The redesign of the naira notes which resulted in cash shortage that severely hampered social and economic activities nationwide set the tone for a turbulent year.

“High double-digit inflation rates (with food inflation at more than 30 per cent), removal of subsidy on premium motor spirit (fuel), devaluation of the naira, and foreign exchange scarcity further exacerbated the already difficult environment for the populace and businesses.”

He added that despite the headwinds, “The company was able to grow its revenue by nine per cent compared to the previous year aided by a positive price mix. However, the operating profit fell by 15 per cent due to higher input cost and one-off reorganisation costs despite strong and aggressive cost savings and other efficiency measures. Coupled with the impact of the devaluation of the naira which resulted in a foreign exchange loss of N153bn, the Company recorded a net loss of N106 billion during the year.”

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The board went on to state its preparedness to tap into its decades of experience of operating in Nigeria to weather the current macroeconomic headwinds.

SEE ALSO:  UPDATED: How Top Nigerian Banker, 5 other family members died in California helicopter crash

“In a difficult operating environment, the board will ensure that the company builds on its more than 77 years experience of operating in Nigeria to cope with current realities. The company will continue to be resilient and forward-thinking leveraging our broad portfolio, strong supply chain footprint and passionate workforce to drive long-term value creation for its shareholders and other stakeholders,” the board said.

In August, NB reviewed the prices of its products upward to accommodate the continued increase in the cost of inputs.

NB produces alcoholic products like Star Lager, Gulder, Legend Extra Stout, Heineken, Goldberg, Life, and Star Radler.

The Central Bank of Nigeria harmonised the segments of the foreign currency market in June 2023 leading to a devaluation of the Naira.

The effect was felt by different companies that recorded forex losses. However, the banking sector faired better as they enjoyed FX revaluation gains.

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Nigerian Breweries releases new prices of drinks

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Nigerian Breweries releases new prices of drinks

The Nigerian Breweries Plc recently announced an upward price change for its Stock-Keeping Units (STUs) with effect from February 19.

A letter dated February 12 titled: ‘Price review notification,’ by the Zonal Business Manager (West), Lekan Awosanya, reads in part: “This is to inform you that we are constrained to review the prices of some of our SKUs effective from Monday, 19th February 2024. This review has become necessary because of the continued rising input cost and the need to mitigate the impact.

“In appreciation of our great partnership and your commitment, we will deliver at the current prices all open orders that are fully funded and created in our system before 00.00hrs on Monday, 19th February 2024.

“While thanking you for your commitment to our great partnership, be rest assured that we will continue to support your sales/distribution efforts as always. For further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact your Regional Business Manager.”

Here is the new price list

1. GULDER – N950

2. STAR – N850

3. 33 EXTRA – N850

4. HEINEKEN – N1300

5. LIFE – N850

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6. LEGEND – N1250

7. TIGER – N750

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