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A tax avoidance promoter based in The Shard has been exposed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) with users warned to withdraw or risk large tax bills.

ContractorCare Ltd was today named by HMRC as a tax avoidance promoter, along with PAYEme Ltd, and Gateway Outsource Solutions Ltd. Customers are being urged to withdraw from the published schemes and contact HMRC as soon as possible.

This latest publication of tax avoidance schemes and their promoters comes after tax avoidance promoter Hyrax Resourcing Ltd was handed a £1million fine after a legal challenge by HMRC, for failing to disclose to the tax authority the details of the tax avoidance scheme they promoted.

Mary Aiston, Director of Counter Avoidance, HMRC, said:

"Tax avoidance schemes are advertised as clever ways to pay less tax but in reality, they rarely work as the promoters promise.

"That's why we're regularly exposing the details of tax avoidance schemes and their promoters, to not only help customers steer clear of them, but also to disrupt the tax avoidance market and drive scheme promoters out of business.

"Anyone who thinks they may be involved in a tax avoidance scheme, or have been approached by a scheme promoter, should contact us as soon as possible to get help."

The three named tax avoidance promoters are:

  • ContractorCare Ltd, of 24/25 The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG
  • PAYEme Ltd, 3rd Floor 8 Princess Parade, Liverpool, L3 1DL
  • Gateway Outsource Solutions Ltd, of Mottram House, 43 Greek Street, Stockport, SK3 8AX

These avoidance schemes typically saw users contracted through the scheme and paid National Minimum Wage, with the rest of their wage disguised in a separate payment. Schemes such as these often wrongly promise their users can avoid National Insurance and Income Tax.

HMRC has now named a total of fourteen tax avoidance promoters and further names will be added to this list in the coming weeks. This is not a complete list of all tax avoidance schemes currently being marketed or a complete list of all promoters, enablers, and suppliers.

HMRC's Tax Avoidance – Don't Get Caught Out campaign offers a range of tools to customers to help them steer clear of avoidance schemes, such as their interactive risk checkerpayslip guidance, and case studiesdemonstrating the risks of becoming involved in a tax avoidance scheme and the warning signs customers should look out for.

Customers who believe that they are involved in a tax avoidance scheme are advised to contact HMRC as quickly as possible by calling 03000 534 226. HMRC is also urging customers who have been encouraged to get into a tax avoidance scheme or have come into contact with someone selling tax avoidance schemes to report this by using their online form.

Dr. Iruka Okeke

ABUJA, Nigeria, 16 February, 2023 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/-Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), a global health organization focused on preventing 100 million deaths from cardiovascular disease and making the world safer from epidemics, has announced the appointment of Dr. Iruka Okeke, Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology at University of Ibadan in Nigeria, to the RTSL Nigeria Board of Directors.

“Dr. Iruka Okeke’s extensive experience in infectious disease control, antimicrobial resistance, laboratory medicine and pharmacology will be important to the continued growth of RTSL Nigeria as we work to further support Nigeria’s progress in public health,” said Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “Dr. Okeke is a welcome addition to our Nigeria Board of Directors and we look forward to working with her.”

Dr. Okeke has been appointed to the RTSL Nigeria Board Directors, effective January 1, 2023. Dr. Okeke is Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology and a Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellow at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria as well as a Fellow of the Nigerian and African Academies of Science. Her research uses microbiology, genetic and genomic methods to investigate the mechanisms bacteria use to colonize humans, cause disease and gain drug resistance. She also works to improve laboratory practice in Africa, contributes to collaborative genomic surveillance for antimicrobial resistance and communicates about microbiology to a broad range of stakeholders.

“It is with pleasure that I join the RTSL Nigeria board. This group and its mission are particularly closely aligned to my own priorities,” said Dr. Okeke. “And I’m excited to contribute to an organization that has made such an impact in African countries and communities, and specifically in Nigeria.”

“Dr. Okeke brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the RTSL Nigeria Board of Directors,” said Dr. Ibrahim Abubakar, RTSL Nigeria Board Director and Dean of the University College London Faculty of Population Health Sciences. “I look forward to working with Dr. Okeke to advance progress on the ground and to continue improving lives.”

Resolve to Save Lives has seen marked growth in the past year as it established operations as a fully independent global public health organization. The addition of Dr. Okeke to its Nigeria Board of Directors will amplify this growth further as the Board guides major programmatic decisions and advises on future fundraising strategies.  AMA

The Central Bank of Kenya in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The licensing of digital credit providers by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has opened the floodgates of new funding to the non-deposit taking entities.

CBK’s greenlight to 12 additional digital lenders at the end of January has, for instance, enabled Mycredit Limited to tap Sh325 million from Oiko Credit in a deal announced on February 1 with the proceeds expected to spur the lender’s medium-term lending programme to small and medium enterprises.

 

“The funding from Oiko allows us to start giving medium-term loans to at least 1,000 SMEs in the next financial year,” said MyCredit Limited Managing Director Wangaruro Mbira.

Sources have intimated to the Business Daily that more funding is expected to stream to the recently licensed digital credit providers with M-Kopa Loan Kenya Limited for instance expected to tap up to Sh12.5 billion ($100 million) according to a person close to the transaction.

The fintech platform, which provides connected financing and digital financial services to unbanked customers has been among the top recipients of funding from partners and investors in the recent past.

M-Kopa Loan Kenya sealed a Sh9.4 billion ($75 million) equity round in March last year with the injection bringing M-Kopa’s total equity funding to Sh23.8 billion ($190 million) to support the fintech’s expansion including adding to its hubs in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.

 

On January 30, the CBK issued 12 additional licensing to digital lenders including Inventure Mobile Limited (Tala), Jumo Kenya Limited, Letshego Kenya Limited, MFS Technologies Limited, Natal Tech Company Limited, Ngao Credit Limited, Pezesha Africa Limited, Tenekata Enterprises Limited, Umoja Fanisi Limited and Zanifu Limited.

This brought the number of licensed entities in the space to 22, after the grant of licenses to 10 players in September last year including Ceres Tech Limited, Getcash Capital Limited (Flash Credit Africa), Jijenge Credit Limited, Kweli Smart Solutions Limited, Mwanzo Credit Limited, MyWagepay Limited, Rewot Ciro Limited, Sevi Innovation Limited and SokoHela Limited.

The recent grant of permits to digital credit providers has served to dissipate fears among players especially existing entities who missed out entirely from the list of initial licensees which largely featured new players in the industry. 

The lengthy delay to secondary approvals had caused jitters to the players who lamented struggles in obtaining fresh funds to investors who were demanding CBK certification before disbursing money.

The jitters led to digital lending executives fearing a potential cash-crunch even as their platforms were blacklisted to platforms such as the Google Playstore.

Delays in the issuance of digital credit providers licensing was largely attributed to the wide range of documentation required by the CBK including a list of directors and funding sources.

CBK’s engagement with other regulators and agencies such as the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is also attributable to the lengthy licensing process.

“The focus of the engagements has been inter alia on business models, consumer protection and fitness and propriety of proposed shareholders, directors and managers. This is to ensure adherence to relevant laws and importantly that the interests of customers are safeguarded. We acknowledge the efforts of the applicants and support of other regulators and agencies in this process,” the CBK stated.

“Other applicants are at different stages in the process, largely awaiting the submission of requisite documentation.”

Concerns including exorbitant credit costs, unethical debt collection practices, and abuse of personal information served to push digital credit providers to the ambits of the banking sector regulator. By By KEPHA MUIRURI, Business Daily

One of the least known information about the BRICS countries is that the chairmanship of the group is rotated annually amongst its members in accordance with the acronym of B-R-I-C-S.

Last year, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi chaired the bloc. This year, President Xi Jinping of China is at the helm, and next year it will be the turn of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will host the 15th BRICS Summit in 2023 and oversee the expansion of the bloc.

BRICS -- which is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- is more than just an acronym. It is a bloc of influential emerging market economies that are collaborating to restructure the global economic multilateral order to make it fairer, inclusive, and equitable. These nations account for about 42% of the world’s population and 24% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, they collectively hold less than 15% of voting rights in both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

It has been predicted that BRICS nations could by 2032 surpass the G-7 economies, which comprise world’s advanced economies including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States of America, and the European Union, which collectively contribute 46% to the world’s GDP.

From its inception in 2009, BRICS has been vocal about the under-representation of developing and poor countries in the global financial system. They want the system to be transformed to reflect the development interests of poor countries, many of which are in Africa. 

As South Africa prepares to take over the BRICS chairmanship, the bloc will continue pushing for equitable representation in international decision-making and supporting post-covid 19 global economic recovery and ill efforts to end the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, which is threatening poor nations with food insecurity due to high oil and food prices.

As BRICS chairman from 2023, President Ramaphosa will also oversee the expansion of the bloc, which may welcome new members. Soon after President Xi Jinping announced during the 14th BRICS summit that was held virtually in late June this year, Iran and Argentina announced that they had submitted their applications to join the group. 

These announcements were followed by media reports that Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Kazakhstan Senegal, and Thailand were also interested in joining BRICS. 

Although there are no criteria that has been set to determine how will the new BRICS members will be selected, any of the potential members will add weight to the bloc, which already consists of resource-rich nations and highly industrialised economies.

An expanded BRICS will be beneficial to South Africa as it will allow our country to extend its global influence and strengthen trade ties with a wide range of powerful, emerging market economies. 

South Africa is considered as a door or entry point to Africa by many multinationals looking to do business on the continent and it also played a significant role in the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that has created a market of 1.4 billion people with a continentwide GDP of $2.6 trillion. 

The AfCFTA, which was officially launched in January last year, has removed import tariffs, and will progressively promote regional integration, develop new regional value chains, and stimulate industrial and infrastructure development across Africa. 

At the 14th BRICS Summit in late June, the bloc’s member countries, released a 75-point joint statement, known as the Beijing Declaration, which amongst other things, expressed support for AfCFTA. In the declaration, BRICS also committed to assisting Africa to accelerate industrialisation and infrastructure development, which are pre-conditions for driving trade and investment on the continent. 

Given that South Africa has the most industrialised economy in Africa with an advanced logistics infrastructure and a sophisticated financial system, the country is in an advantageous position to capitalise on trade and investment benefits presented by AfCFTA and an expanded BRICS, particularly in key sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, e-commerce, and the services industry in which it has a competitive edge.

As a major food producer and exporter, South Africa is well positioned to ramp up its agricultural production to ease food shortages caused by the disruption of supply chains related to the Ukraine-Russia war. 

Many African countries that are dependent on maize imports from Ukraine, which Ukraine is unable to deliver due to the ongoing conflict. I am confident that South African farmers can close the gap left by the absence or shortage of Ukrainian maize imports.

Agriculture is one of the strengths of South Africa’s economy and the sector produces an array of agricultural exports ranging from subtropical fruits, sugar, citrus, to wine, vegetables, wool, mohair, and meat.

There is no doubt that the enlargement of BRICS will benefit South Africa. The expansion comes at an opportune time when our country is implementing an economic recovery plan and structural reforms to make our economy globally competitive, reduce cost of doing business, attract investment, and stimulate economic growth. 

As President Ramaphosa prepares to take over the BRICS chairmanship, I urge all key stakeholders including private sector, government, labour, and civil society to collaborate to position to our country to take advantage of opportunities that the BRICS expansion will bring to our country.  

  • Ntombela is the Acting CEO of Brand South Africa   AMA

Johannesburg — South Africa hosted the world's biggest mining investment conference this week, with industry experts in attendance saying the U.S. and China are in a race for the critical minerals -- such as cobalt and lithium -- that will likely power the projected transition to clean energy.

African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo have some of the largest deposits of these resources, but China currently dominates the supply chain as well as their refinement and the U.S. wants to reduce its reliance on the Asian giant.

In his remarks at the mining conference in Cape Town this week, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez hinted at this saying, "I don't need to remind you of what happens when the supply chain breaks down or when we depend on a single supplier. We lived it during the COVID pandemic, and this is a vulnerability that we need to solve together."

Fernandez -- who did not mention China by name -- noted that electric vehicles are expected to command half the global market by 2030 and that demand for lithium is expected to increase 42-fold by 2040. China is responsible for some 80 percent of the world's lithium refining. 

Tony Carroll, the director of Acorus Capital and an international adviser to the conference known as the Africa Mining Indaba, told VOA the session came at a critical time for the West.

The Chinese made it a "priority to corner the market for critical minerals about two decades ago and supported that strategy with massive public diplomacy and infrastructure investments into Africa -- most of which [came] via long-term debt. The West woke up to this strategy too late and have been scrambling ever since," he said.

Rare earth minerals are essential for electric vehicle production and expanding the production of green technologies. However, their extraction can come at an environmental or social cost to African countries that have big deposits. 

Fernandez echoed remarks made by Pope Francis on his recent trip to Congo denouncing "economic colonialism" in Africa, which could be seen as a swipe at Beijing. He also assured African countries the United States would respect "environmental, social, and governance standards."

"While late to the game, the U.S. has awakened with more ambition in mining and processing and building alliances with like-minded partners," said Carroll, who is also an adjunct professor in the African studies program at Johns Hopkins University.

A first-time sponsor of the Mining Indaba this year was Chinese company Zijin, one of the largest mining groups in the world with interests in lithium, copper and other metals.

Asked for comment by VOA on whether China is now in a race for rare earth metals with the U.S., as well as other questions about Chinese mining interests in Africa, the PR manager of South Africa Zijin Platinum said the CEO was unable to respond before the deadline for this article. 

African governments are now trying to get the best deals for their people. Namibia's Mines Minister Tom Alweendo told Reuters at the Cape Town conference that his country is insisting that all lithium mined in Namibia has to be processed in the country.

Similarly, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, who was one of the key speakers at the mining conference, has been demanding better terms from China for several years. China sources the majority of its cobalt from DRC, which produces some 70 percent of the world's total.

Despite its vast mineral resources, Congo is one of the world's least developed countries and Tshisekedi said in January it hadn't benefited from a $6.2 billion minerals-for-infrastructure contract with China signed by his predecessor.

"The Chinese, they've made a lot of money and made a lot of profit from this contract," Tshisekedi told Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "The Democratic Republic of Congo has derived no benefit from it. There's nothing tangible, no positive impact, I'd say, for our population."

"Now our need is simply to re-balance things in a way that it becomes win-win," he added.

There are signs Tshisekedi could be moving toward the West.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden organized the Minerals Security Partnership last year as a way of diversifying supply chains. Partners include Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union. At its first meeting last year, the DRC was one of the non-partner nations in attendance.

Then at Biden's U.S.-Africa Summit in December, the DRC and Zambia inked a deal with the U.S. to jointly develop the supply chain for electric vehicle batteries.

"Dependency on China for rare earths is viewed with alarm," said Jay Truesdale, CEO of the risk advisory firm Veracity Worldwide, and a speaker at the Indaba. "Given that Beijing has the means to severely restrict access to these minerals, in the event of a geopolitical crisis it could choose to use its market dominance to cripple non-Chinese manufacturers in such sectors as electronics, automotive manufacturing, aerospace, and renewable energy."

Besides the rising tensions between China and the West in Africa, Russia's invasion of Ukraine will also force mining companies to make hard decisions, Truesdale said.

"The war in Ukraine has placed greater scrutiny on Russian mining activities across the continent. Russia benefits from a lack of transparency and weak governance where its mining companies operate. African governments are now more closely observing how Moscow trades promises of greater security for deeper access to mineral resources and the state capture that can result," he told VOA.  By Kate Bartlett, VOA

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