The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the inclusion of 27 enterprises to the list of pioneer industries and products that would enjoy pioneer status under the Industrial Development Income Tax Relief Act.
The pioneer status incentive is a tax holiday given to companies for a period of time to encourage the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. A new company or an existing one with an expansion plan may apply for a certificate of pioneer status, which lasts for three years and is renewable upon application for two years. It may also be a seven-year tax holiday in respect of industries located in economically disadvantaged local government areas of the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the council presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. Enelamah said the council also resolved that that oil prospecting companies governed by the Petroleum Profit Tax should not be included in the pioneer industries’ list.
The minister, however, did not reveal the 27 industries added to the list. He said firms covered by the pioneer industries’ list would enjoy tax holidays ranging from three to five years. While recalling that the last review of the list was done in 2006, Enelamah stated that the latest review was done by paying special attention to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to capture the current realities. He said the review would help the government to implement and realise the objectives of the ERGP.
The minister stated, “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 meant for industries governed by the Companies Income Tax.”
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the council approved two major road projects totalling over N20bn. Fashola explained that the first project was the construction of the Pankshin-Ballang-Yelleng-Salla-Gindiri road in Plateau State for N10.461bn, while the second was the Share-Pategi road in Kwara State for N10.29bn. The minister said the council also approved a memorandum with respect to an inherited liability from the old Ministry of Power, where a judgment of N119bn had been signed against the Federal Government as a result of the acts of its officials who varied a presidential approval without seeking further directive and then awarded a contract on that basis. “The happy news is that council approved the memo to give effect to the negotiations that we were able to put together to compromise that judgement entirely and to convert the old N37bn now to a loan to that contractor so that they can use it to supply meters through the Discos,” he said.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonaya Onu, announced that the council approved a science policy to help to change the direction that nation would take. One of the highlights of the policy, according to him, is that where there is bulk purchase of major items that will be brought into the country, those who normally would have supplied from outside the country will now come to Nigeria and establish their factories to produce locally.
By doing so, he said the firms would offer job opportunities to Nigerians and pay taxes to the government, among other benefits. Onu stated, “We also agreed that from now on, any person who wants to practise any profession that has anything to do with science, engineering and technology like medical doctors, accountants, quantity surveyors, just to mention but a few, that first they have to be certified by appropriate regulatory bodies in Nigeria. “This is very important in building our local capacity. There are so many areas that this new policy has covered, because the aim of this new policy is to make sure that in the next 10 years, Nigerian firms will be in a position to carry out very complex jobs; the sort of jobs that we don’t currently have the expertise to do in the country.”
The minister added that the council accepted to declare a state of emergency in science and technology. According to him, this is important because the ERGP recognises the cardinal place of science and technology in driving the recovery of the economy and growth plan of the government.