The Nigerian Government has announced interventions and palliative measures to cushion the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 on individuals and business organisations respectively.
On the 13th of April, 2020, the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation following the initial cessation of all movements in Lagos State, Ogun State & the Federal Capital Territory for fourteen (14) days from 30th March – 12th April, 2020. In his address, he directed that the lockdown in these States be extended for another fourteen (14) days from 13th April – 26th April, 2020.
The President stated that the repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action will be unimaginable but also recognised the impact of the lockdown order on people who earn daily wages and as such he directed that the current social register be increased from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two (2) weeks. This means that an additional 1 million households will be supported with social investment programmes. A Quarantine Order has also been signed by the President and additional regulations to provide clarity in respect of the control measures for COVID-19 Pandemic and they will be released soon.
The President also gave the following directives:
• That the Ministers of Industry, Trade & Investment, Communication & Digital Economy, Science & Technology, Transportation, Aviation, Interior, Health, Works & Housing, Labour & Employment, and Education work together to jointly develop a comprehensive policy for a “Nigerian Economy functioning with COVID-19”. The Ministers will be supported by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Economic Sustainability Committee.
• That the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, the National Security Adviser, the Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council and the Chairman, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative are to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure the impact of the pandemic on the 2020 farming season is minimised.
Citizens in the States mentioned above have been directed to stay at home during the lockdown. Inter-state travels within the States are restricted and all businesses and offices within the States are fully closed during the lockdown period with the exception of the following:
• Businesses providing health related and essential services including hospitals and related medical establishments.
• Organizations in healthcare related manufacturing and distribution.
• Food processing, distribution and retail companies.
• Petroleum distribution and retail entities.
• Power generation, transmission and distribution companies.
• Private Security Companies.
• Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media who are able to prove they are unable to work from home.
• Seaports in Lagos State as well as vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from the seaports to other parts of the country which will be screened before departure by the Ports Health Authority.
• Critical Staff members of the Central Bank Of Nigeria, Deposit Money Banks, the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), mobile money operators and payment solution providers.
The Lagos State Government amongst other State Governments has restricted airport and inter-state travels to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Open markets in many states are closed and only allowed to open at specific hours in order for State agencies to disinfect those spaces.
The Lagos State Government has also undertaken more stringent measures which include the following:
• Institution of a dusk to dawn curfew in the State prior to the lockdown order issued by the Federal Government.
• Issuance of the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 by the Governor via his powers under the Lagos State Public Health Law and the Federal Quarantine Act, Q2, LFN 2004. This regulation grants the Governor the power to do the following:
o To direct a potentially infectious person within Lagos State to go to a place specified for COVID-19 screening or to go into isolation.
o To restrict movement within, into or out of the State, particularly the movement of persons, vehicles, aircraft and watercraft.
o To restrict or prohibit the gathering of persons without the Governor’s consent.
o To restrict the conduct of trade, business and commercial activities within the State.
o To order the temporary closure of markets, except those selling or manufacturing essential services.
o To prohibit the hoarding or inflating the prices of essential goods and services and direct such goods and services to be seized and utilized to address the supply needs of the State.
A breach of the Regulations is an offence under the Quarantine Act and Lagos State Public Health Law and is liable to a fine or imprisonment or both in accordance with those laws.
In this update, we highlight the comprehensive measures adopted by the Government in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
1. COMPANIES INCOME TAX
• Extension of timeline for the filing of Companies Income Tax returns by one (1) month. As such, Companies due to file their returns on the 30th of April, 2020 now have till the 31st of May, 2020 to do so. This will also be applicable in subsequent months.
• Companies have also been allowed a leeway to submit tax returns without submitting its audited account, provided that the audited account is submitted within two months after the revised due date of filing.
2. VALUE ADDED TAX/WITHHOLDING TAX
• Extension of timeline for the filing of Value Added Tax and Withholding Tax returns from the 21st day of every month following the month of deduction to the last working day of the month following the month of deduction.
• Creation of a VAT automated collection system known as VATrac which is meant to aid VAT collection for specific businesses such as; Branded Shops, Super Stores, General Supermarkets, Standard Restaurant and Eateries Nationwide. The usage of this system is to commence on the 1st of April, 2020 and the VATrac shall be the approved channel for filing VAT returns and payment processing by the affected businesses.
The Public Notice to this effect can be viewed on the FIRS Portal using the link: https://www.firs.gov.ng/SiteApplication/Home/Home.aspx
Please click the link to download a copy of the message of the Executive Chairman of the FIRS to taxpayers. C:\Users\Blackwood & Stone\Downloads\FIRS-chairman-message-to-taxpayers (1).pdf
3. PERSONAL INCOME TAX
• The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service has extended the filing of Personal Income Tax returns for Individuals and Self-Employed persons to the 31st of May, 2020.
• The Federal Capital Territory Internal Revenue Service has extended the timeline for filing annual tax returns from the 31st of March, 2020 to the 30th of June, 2020.
• The period to file Personal Income Tax returns for Foreign Affairs, Non-Residents, Military and Police personnel has been extended to the 30th of June, 2020.
4. FURTHER TAX MEASURES
• Use of E-Platforms: The Federal Inland Revenue Service has reminded the general public and taxpayers of available e-platforms which may be used for the purpose of filing tax returns, payment of taxes and application for Tax Clearance Certificates etc. These
measures aim to reduce the need for taxpayers to physically visit the FIRS offices as most of the activities may be done online via the e-service portal.
These measures also extend to the use of emails and contact centre numbers which are specifically detailed below:
FIRS Contact Centre: 0909 74444444; 090971111111
Email addresses for submitting tax returns:
Large taxpayers – Oil & Gas (Upstream) = email@example.com
Large taxpayers – Oil & Gas (Downstream) = firstname.lastname@example.org Large taxpayers – Oil & Gas (Servicing) = email@example.com
Large taxpayers – Non Oil (Financial) = firstname.lastname@example.org
Large taxpayers–Non Oil (Manufacturing) = email@example.com
Large taxpayers – Abuja = firstname.lastname@example.org
Large taxpayers – Kano = email@example.com
Large taxpayers – Ibadan = firstname.lastname@example.org
Large taxpayers – Port Harcourt= email@example.com
All Medium taxpayers = firstname.lastname@example.org
All Small and Micro taxpayers = email@example.com
All Government Business taxpayers = firstname.lastname@example.org
All Stamp Duty taxpayers = email@example.com
• Late Returns Penalty (LRP) has been waived for taxpayers who pay early and file later. Supporting documents can also be emailed to the dedicated email address or submitted later to the tax offices by those who are unable to use the email facility.
• Taxpayers facing challenges in sourcing FOREX to offset their liabilities are hereby given the option of paying in Naira at the prevailing Investors and Exporters (I & E) FOREX window rate on the day of payment.
• Field Audit, Investigations and Monitoring visits have been suspended till further notice.
• Provisions of the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill 2020: The National Assembly is working on a bill to protect the wellbeing of the Nigerian citizens known as the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020. The bill is aimed at protecting jobs and alleviating the financial burden of taxpayers. The tax related incentives of the bill include the following:
o Employers duly registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) who will not retrench any of its staff between the 1st of March, 2020 and the 31st of December, 2020 will receive an incentive in the form of 50% tax rebate on the total or actual amount due or paid as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) under the Personal Income Tax Act. This incentive does not apply to companies under the Petroleum Profit Tax Act.
o Waiver of import duty on Medical Equipment, Medicines, Personal Protective Equipment and other medical necessities as may be required for the treatment of the COVID-19 disease in Nigeria. The bill implores the Minister of Health by way of regulation to publish a list of the goods qualified for this waiver.
o Deferral for payments on mortgages obtained by the individual contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) for six (6) months.
Here is a copy of the bill C:\Users\Blackwood & Stone\Downloads\economic-stimulus-bill 2020.pdf
A bill to provide electricity for free to all Nigerian households for two (2) months will be considered by the house of Representatives upon returning from its break on the 14th of April, 2020. This bill is also considered as a stimulus package for Nigerians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
BANKING AND FINANCIAL MEASURES
1) Provision of Credit Facility by the Central Bank of Nigeria: The CBN announced the provision of Fifty Billion Naira (50,000,000,000) targeted credit facility through the NIRSAL microfinance bank. The credit facility is targeted at households and small and medium enterprises which have been particularly hit by the COVID-19, particularly, hoteliers, airline service providers amongst others.
2) Extension of Moratorium: All CBN intervention facilities are granted a further moratorium of one (1) year on principal repayments effective 1st of March, 2020. As such, beneficiaries now have one-year suspension of repayment obligation on their loan facilities as the period of 1st of March, 2020 to the 28th of February, 2021 will be considered as the period of moratorium.
3) Interest Rate Deduction: The interest rate for all CBN intervention facilities shall be reduced from 9% to 5% effective 1st of March, 2020.
4) Credit Support for the Healthcare Industry: Intervention facilities have been opened by the CBN to participants in the healthcare sectors, pharmaceuticals, medical sectors etc. who wish to expand their business or start a business in the healthcare sector.
5) Regulatory Forbearance: The CBN vis its regulations grants leave to all Deposit Money Banks (DMB) to consider the tenor of their credit facility to businesses affected by the
COVID-19 particularly in the oil and gas, manufacturing and agricultural sectors. In view of this, temporary and time limited restructuring of loans is advised by the CBN.
6) Strengthening of CBN Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) Policy: In order to ensure the success of the LDR Policy during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the CBN will lend support to DMB’s to ensure that the supply of credit facilities in the economy is stable. Further to the above, the CBN has issued two implementation guidelines namely:
• Guideline for the Operation of the N100 Billion Credit Support for the Healthcare Sector.
• Guideline for the Implementation of N50 Billion Targeted Credit Facility.
Please click the links below to download the guidelines.
CBN GUIDELINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF 50BILLION TARGETED CREDIT FACILITY.pdfCBN GUIDELINE FOR THE OPERATION OF 100BILLION CREDIT SUPPORT FOR HEALTHCARE SECTOR.pdf
REGULATORY COMPLIANCE MEASURES
1. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has issued a notice encouraging public companies to take advantage of the provisions of Section 230 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to hold their annual general meetings by the use of proxies. This is in response to the restrictions on movements and gathering of a public nature instructed by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
2. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted an e-filing approach for capital market operators and stakeholders. It has also suspended indefinitely all fresh applications for capital market operators and referred requests and enquiries regarding pending applications to the email address for that purpose.
3. A 60-day extension has also been granted by the SEC to all public companies and capital market operators to file their 2019 annual reports and 1st quarter 2020 reports.
4. The SEC has also postponed indefinitely its first capital market committee meeting previously scheduled to hold on the 23rd of April, 2020 alongside all of its other meetings.
5. The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has extended the timeline for the annual Data protection compliance filing by companies to the 15th of May, 2020.
1. The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian Immigration Service has placed a ban on travelers from 13 countries who have recorded more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in their countries. They include: China, Italy, United Kingdom, United States of America, South Korea, Spain, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Netherlands.
2. The issuance of Visa on arrival to travelers from these countries has also been suspended.
3. The Government has also banned government officials from foreign travels.
We are aware that these are uncertain times and it is our hope that more measures will be put in place to further mitigate the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We shall continue to track the interventions and measures and update this webpage with information as events unfold.
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