The FG has exempted about 20 basic food items and some other transactions/items from the new 7.5% VAT, as it’s set to kick off new policy on 1 February. The Presidency said the exemptions were made in a bid to keep the cost of living from rising for Nigerians due to the changes in VAT. “To allay fears that low-income persons and companies would be marginalised by the new law, reduce the burden of taxation on vulnerable segments, and promote equitable taxation, the Finance Act 2019 had extended the list of goods and services exempted from VAT,” the statement said. The list of exempted items includes additives (honey), bread, cereals, cooking oils, culinary herbs, fish, flour and starch, fruits (fresh or dried), live or raw meat and poultry, milk, nuts, pulses, and roots. Others are salt, vegetables, water (natural water and table water), locally manufactured sanitary towels, pads or tampons services rendered by micro-finance banks, and tuition fees relating to nursery-university. Nigeria’s new VAT rate remains one of the lowest in Africa.

Oil firm, Lekoil, has reached a deferred payment deal to keep ownership of an oilfield, the company said on Tuesday, after it discovered the loan it wanted to use for the purchase was fraudulent. Lekoil shares plummeted on the London stock market last week after finding that a $184 million loan it had announced from the Qatar Investment Authority was a “complex facade” by individuals pretending to represent the QIA. Tuesday’s statement said Lekoil has agreed to make final payments totalling $9.6 million to Optimum Petroleum Development Company, the operator of the OPL 310 oilfield, by 2 May. The companies also agreed to defer to July 2020 Lekoil’s need to prove it can fund 42.86% of drilling costs. The audacious scam has casts doubt on Nigeria’s hopes that its indigenous oil and gas producers can fill the gap left by international oil majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, which are trying to sell Nigerian assets to focus on projects elsewhere.

Africa-focused fintech firm Flutterwave on Tuesday announced a $35 million fundraising round and partnerships with WorldPay and Visa as it targets expansion in northern and Francophone Africa. The startup, founded in 2016 by Nigerians and headquartered in San Francisco, specialises in individual and consumer transfers — one of several fintech firms aiming to facilitate and capitalise on Africa’s booming payments market. As part of the deal, Flutterwave will become the African payment provider for Worldpay’s clients worldwide, making the company the latest African fintech firm to attract global cash and big-name partnerships. While the agreement is not exclusive, it is WorldPay’s only partner on the continent. As part of the latest funding round, Flutterwave will scale up and expand that service, allowing it to issue physical and virtual Visa cards and process payments using Visa’s networks. Visa also bought a 20% stake in Nigerian payments firm Interswitch late last year, elevating it to “unicorn” status – a term used for tech companies with a valuation of a billion dollars or more. Business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan forecast that Nigeria’s fintech revenues alone will grow from $153.1 million in 2017 to $543.3 million by 2022.

Policemen, on Tuesday, barricaded the venue of a protest against the FG’s position declaring the establishment of Operation Amotekun as illegal. The South-West regional security outfit had been described by justice minister, Abubakar Malami, as illegal. In a related development, the northern herders’ group, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore said the support for Amotekun showed how “primitive” people of the Yoruba ethnic group are in politics. Its National Secretary, Alhassan Saleh told Channels Television on Monday that the security effort by the state governments of South-West Nigeria amounted to an “ethnic army” and showed the Yoruba people as “not tolerant to opposition.” When asked if he told a national newspaper last week that support for Amotekun could cost the South-West the Presidency in 2023, Saleh confirmed but said the comment did not amount to blackmail.