The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N20.6 billion for road contracts in Plateau and Kwara states.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, briefed State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.He was with the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah and the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu.
The two roads, he said, are N10.4 billion for the reconstruction of Pankshin-Balank-Yalen-Salak-Gindiri road in Plateau state and N10.2 billion for reconstruction of Sharre-Patigi road in Kwara state.
He said “The ministry presented two memoranda to the council. The first was to with respect for approval to construct the Pankshin-Balank-Yalen-Salak-Gindiri road in Plateau state for N10.46billion.
“The second one is the Sharre-Patigi road in Kwara for N10.2 billion; both prayers were approved by the council.
“The other memorandum was in respect to inherited liabilities from the old power ministry where a judgment of N119 billion had been signed against the Federal Government as a result of acts of officials of government who varied the presidential approval without seeking further directive from him and then awarded the contract on that basis.
“So the party who was the beneficiary of that contract which they subsequently sought to withdraw went to court and got a judgment,” he said.Onu said that the Council approved a policy to encourage technological advancement in Nigeria.
The initiative, he said, will help Nigerian firms to produce what the country needs as it will boost foreign investment in Science, Technology and Engineering from where local content could be developed.
Through the policy, he said that technology transfer will be facilitated with more taxes to be paid to government, and wealth creation for the country and people.
“The Federal Executive Council in its deliberations approved a policy that will help us to change the direction that we have been taking as a nation, a direction that will be very useful in helping us to start looking inwards to produce the things that we need as against depending on other outside people to import our requirements.
“Some of the highlights will involve for example where we have bulk purchases of major items that we are bringing into the country that those who normally would have supplied from outside the country will now come to Nigeria to establish their factories to produce in Nigeria.
“By doing so they will offer job opportunities to our people, tax will be paid to government so wealth will be created but most importantly Nigeria will now acquire the necessary technology that will help us to build capacity.’’
Onu said that FEC agreed that henceforth whoever wanted to practice any profession, in Engineering, Science and Technology, Medicine, Accountancy, Quantity Surveyors and others must be certified by appropriate professional bodies in Nigeria.
He said the measure was very important in building the nation’s local capacity adding that there were so many areas that the fiscal policy had covered.
According to him the aim is that in the next 10 years Nigerian firms shall be in a position to carry out very complex jobs, especially the ones that they do not currently have the expertise to do.
He said the country would for now rely on foreign companies for such jobs but when they arrive they have to work with Nigerian firms who would understudy them from project conception to inauguration.
The minister stated that it was the only way that the country could acquire the necessary technology to build our local capacity hoping that in 20 years Nigerian firms should be competing with the best in the world.
He said FEC has accepted to declare a state of emergency on Science and Technology because the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 to 2020 recognised the cardinal place of science and technology in driving the recovery and growth plan.
“We are not looking for transfer of technology because we know it would not happen; what we are looking for is acquisition of technology and we are interested in building our own capacity.
“We are convinced that we can do this and we believe that with the new policy we will be in a position to acquire technology,’’ he stated.
Onu noted that the country could train professionals using the foreign professionals adding that the Ministry of Interior would be involved to ensure creation of a new classification in the immigration policy in that regard.
He also said that the ministry of foreign affairs would help the country to improve its free visa status ranking from the present 92 position.
He described the position as very low as it allowed Nigerians to enter only 45 countries on free visa.
He said this was a difficult journey but would take Nigeria to where it should be in the committee of nations.
Onu added that the approval had not been done since the country became independent and added that in project design the country would insist that all the language would be in English rather than any other foreign language.
He noted that with the movement of other nations toward solar and other means of technology outside oil the country should be preparing for a post-crude oil era.
Enelamah said that FEC approved a memorandum that was presented to amend the list of pioneer industries and products that will enjoy pioneer status going
This, according to him, is line with the ease of doing business policy of government.
He said “As many of you know the pioneer incentive scheme is governed by ye Industrial Development Income Tax Relief Act and the whole purpose is to give tax holidays to industries we consider pioneer. Pioneer doesn’t mean that they are new it only means that they are not yet mature, we want those industries to grow.
“We want to attract investment in them and you will find that this covers a wide range of industries and those tax holidays ranges from 3-5years. The pioneer list was last reviewed by the Federal Executive Council in 2006, so you could see that this was long overdue.
“On doing the review, special attention was paid to the ERGP to capture the current realities that will help to implement the plan to make sure we attract the kind of investment, industries and players that will help to implement and realize our objectives in the ERGP.
“I should also point out that there was multi stakeholder engagement, private and public sector in arriving at the industries that will be included in the pioneer incentive scheme.
“In terms of the recommendations approved by FEC today: we have tried to remove all ambiguities in the definition of industries by reclassifying industries according to the international standard in industrial classification which is the global standard which is also the standard that is used by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.
“The other thing we also did is to agree that the pioneer list will be reviewed regularly every two years, biannually so that just that if things come up, we live in a fast changing world and we are being responsive to our world. In the case of additions to the list they will be effected immediately, for deletion of industries that we consider mature there will be a three year window that will be allowed for those that are already investing in that industry that were enjoying pioneer status to carry on till the end of that three year period.
“Against this backdrop, we then approved 27 industries that were recommended for addition to the pioneer list today. We also recommended and it was accepted by the Council that mineral oil prospecting which is governed by the Petroleum Profit Tax should not be part of the pioneer industries list which is really industries governed by the Companies Income Tax Act.
“It was also accepted that given the success we have achieved in cement which are now net exporters, maybe that is an industry which we could say that we are now where we want to be in terms of maturity even though there is still a lot of scope for the application and the use of cement and you know that will continue. We already have critical mass in cement.
“The scheme will ensure that will not deprive us of revenue. It is an incentive to make people enter your market, new enter industries, invest more for people who are already here. It will increase our tax base over time,” he stated.