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Sunak to cut tax on banks to keep City competitive, say reports

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Sunak to cut tax on banks to keep City competitive, say reports

Rishi Sunak is preparing to announce a tax cut for Britain’s biggest banks at next week’s budget to maintain the competitiveness of the City of London after Brexit, according to reports, despite plans to raise taxes on workers.

Ahead of the setpiece budget and spending review next week, the Financial Times said the chancellor planned to slash the corporation tax surcharge imposed on the banking industry by more than 60%, taking the levy from its current level of 8% to just 3% from April 2023.

The development comes after Sunak had warned the Conservative party conference this month that the time for tax cuts would need to wait until the public finances were back on a sustainable footing, amid record levels of government borrowing incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since the start of 2021, the chancellor has announced plans to raise taxes by £36bn a year – a bigger rise than at any budget since the mid-1970s – including plans to raise national insurance taxes on workers and businesses.

It also comes after the government slashed universal credit benefits from early October by more than £1,000 a year in the biggest overnight cut for social security benefits, in a development poverty campaigners warn would push more households into distress amid an unfolding cost of living crisis this autumn.

The chancellor announced a review of the banking industry surcharge at the spring budget, saying a planned increase in the main rate of corporation tax could put London at a disadvantage to other big financial centres such as New York and Hong Kong.

Corporation tax is set to rise from 19% to 25% from April 2023, which the Treasury said at the March budget “would make UK taxation of banks uncompetitive and damage one of the UK’s key exports”.

It comes amid concerns over the impact of Brexit on the City of London as large amounts of financial business continue to steadily drift to European financial centres, as well as to Asia and the US. Earlier this year, it emerged Amsterdam had overtaken London as Europe’s top share trading hub, raising questions over the future of the City and its contribution to the wider UK economy and the British exchequer.

The chancellor’s critics leapt on Sunak’s comments to the Tory party conference earlier this month, amid anticipation for a tough tax and spending settlement elsewhere at next week’s budget.

John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, said: “Sunak talked about morality in his conference speech, where’s the morality in cutting universal credit forcing more children into poverty whilst reducing the taxes on wealthy banks? Appalling judgment.”

Despite improvements over the past year as the economy recovers from Covid, the government is still on track to borrow £180bn in the current financial year, or about 7.7% of national income. Since the second world war, such a level has only been reached during the financial crisis and last year.

The banking surcharge was introduced by George Osborne in 2015 with the aim of ensuring a fair contribution from the banking industry after the then chancellor scaled back a separate levy on lenders’ balance sheets, and cut corporation tax for other firms to among the lowest levels in the western world. The levy raised £1.5bn in 2019.

Against the backdrop of heavy lobbying from the sector, Sunak dropped a heavy hint in his Mansion House speech in July that a fresh settlement was likely, saying that his ongoing conversations with banks had “only reinforced my view that the combined tax rate on UK banking profits should not increase significantly from its current level”.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We do not comment on fiscal policy outside of budget.”

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Senators reject bill seeking to to reduce CBN’s regulatory power on FX market

Nigerian senators have rejected a bill seeking to amend the Foreign Exchange Act of 2004 expected to reduce the regulatory function of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the Fx Market.

The bill, titled “The Foreign Exchange (Control and Monitoring) Bill, 2024 (SB. 353),” was sponsored by Sani Musa (APC-Niger), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and was first read on Tuesday, February 20.

According to NAN, Musa described the bill as crucial legislation intended to repeal the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Cap. F34, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

He stated that the proposed law would regulate, monitor, and supervise market transactions and related matters.

He added that the bill will stabilize the country’s foreign exchange market.

“The Bill seeks to stabilize the value of the currency by ensuring the liberalization of foreign exchange transactions to maintain an equilibrium of the balance of international payments.”

However, senators vehemently opposed the bill.

They said it would be counterproductive to CBN’s effort at stabilizing the foreign exchange market.

Senators who opposed the bill are Solomon Adeola (Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation), Tokunbo Abiru (Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions), and Aliyu Wadada (Chairman of the Senate Public Accounts Committee.

Senator Ibrahim Dankwambo (APC-Gombe), giving reason for opposing the bill said that passing such a law would confuse Nigerians.

Similarly, Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC-Edo) pointed out that the senators who had spoken had meticulously summarized and amplified the contradictions and negative implications of passing the law.

Oshiomhole said he believes the bill should not proceed further, as it would effectively take over the CBN’s monetary policy regulations.

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, urged Senator Musa to withdraw the proposed law for further consultations but the senator declined.

Senator Akpabio then called for a voice vote to decide its approval or rejection for a second reading and the majority of lawmakers voted against it.

The development comes as the Naira recorded its first appreciationp against the dollar on Thursday, exchanging at N1,554.65 per dollar.

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Oyebanji Seeks Belgium’s Partnership in Technology, Agriculture, Intellectual Capacity Devt for Wealth Creation

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji says his administration is building blocks for mutual bilateral relationships between the State and developed countries of the world to turn around the fortunes of its citizens.

Governor Oyebanji made this known during a meeting with the Belgium Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Pieter Leenknegt at the Belgium Embassy in Abuja, on Wednesday, where potential areas of collaboration were discussed.

Governor Oyebanji who was accompanied by the some state officials, including Commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Performance Management, Mr Niyi Adebayo; and Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akin Oyebode, DG office of partnership Biodun Oyeleye, highlighted some critical areas of the State’s 30 – year development plan.

He noted that the state government has a clear vision of opportunities in the areas of ecosystem innovation, technology, renewable energy, environmental management and agricultural production and exportation as well as intellectual capacity development for wealth creation.

“Our vision for Ekiti State is clear. Despite the various challenges, indices and factors being that we are landlocked, we are committed to exploring and leveraging opportunities in ecosystem innovation, technology, renewable energy, and agricultural production. Collaboration with developed nations is crucial for the actualization of our 30-year development plan and ensure sustainable growth and prosperity for our people.”

The Governor highlighted the state’s substantial investments in social programs, commercial agriculture, and various intervention initiatives aimed at boosting the purchasing power of Ekiti’s citizens stressing the necessity of international collaboration to fully realize the state’s ambitious 30-year development plan.

In his response, Ambassador Leenknegt acknowledged Ekiti state’s efforts, which align with global best practices and ECOWAS standards. He advised the Ekiti government to expedite the completion of the state’s airport to improve access and connectivity.

He commended the initiatives behind the Ekiti Knowledge zone noting its potential to transform local knowledge into wealth, expressing Belgium’s interest in partnering with Ekiti State in areas such as communication technology, transportation, and tropical agriculture, including cacao and palm kernel production as well as enhancing academic partnerships between Belgian institutions and universities in Ekiti State.

“We recognize and appreciate the significant strides being made by the Ekiti State government. The Ekiti Knowledge Zone is a remarkable initiative with the potential to turn local knowledge into wealth. Belgium is keen to explore collaboration in areas such as communication technology, transportation, and tropical agriculture, including cacao and palm kernel production.” Said the Ambassador

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NCAA to sanction airlines over deceitful departure schedules

National carrier gets licence today, local airlines fault process

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has condemned what it calls the prevalent cases of deceitful departure time scheduling by airlines, warning the erring airlines to desist from the infraction or face dire regulatory actions.

The Acting Director General, Civil Aviation, Nigeria, Captain Chris Najomo, while declaring this on Tuesday at the Authority’s corporate headquarters in Abuja, said the NCAA now runs a zero-tolerance approach to regulatory infractions.

Speaking through the NCAA Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Mr. Michael Achimugu, the acting DG warned the airlines to desist from the infraction or face dire regulatory actions.

“He made the ease of doing business the crux of his action plan for the NCAA. In line with that action plan, he has made processes for licensing easy for operators. The time to secure AOC is now shorter and less cumbersome than it used to be in the past,” he stated.

“The NCAA therefore expects reciprocity from airlines. Chief of which is world-class services to passengers.

Najomo said that if the NCAA is making doing business easier for operators, the operators must satisfy the passengers too with superior services.

He said, “It has come to our notice that some airlines are being reported for advertising deceitful departure times. The NCAA regulation says no airline shall display deceitful passenger departure time at its counter, advert material, or on its website.

“We want to make it very clear that the DGCA has directed monitoring and offenders will face serious regulatory actions.”

According to him, the Authority believes in safety, discipline, and economic regulation which is evidenced in the recent suspension of ten PNCF holders for failing to comply with the recertification advisory issued in April 2024.

He indicated that whilst the NCAA supports airlines to be profitable because of their critical value to the economy, it is important passengers are treated fairly.

Speaking about the ease of doing business environment at the NCAA, Capt. Najomo said the ease of business is an area the Authority will continue to improve.

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