" ITREALMS: Expert wants NITDA fund explored

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Expert wants NITDA fund explored

A Lagos-based Information Technology (IT) expert has disclosed that the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITDEF) has began to yield fruits three years after the Act supporting it was signed into law.

The fund being managed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and also called NITDA fund, it was gathered has accumulated some useful amount in essence of N400 million, that could be channeled into development projects.

Our sources who is an insider in the NITDA and pleaded for anonymity said that with the inauguration of NITDA board last year, there is reason why the fund should not be put to use this year, despite the lamentations of the agency led by Prof. Cleopas Officer Angaye, that budget is yet to be signed.

“NITDA has the custody of this fund and should stop giving excuses, but use the fund to the maximum level,” our source declared last weekend.

ITRealms Online recall that NITDA Act was signed into law by the immediate past president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007, and tagged the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITDEF), which compels major institutions and organizations including banks, insurance, telecom operators among Information and Communication Technology (ICT) entities to devote a per cent of their profits before tax for national IT development.

According to Angaye, the fund would be channeled into development of information technology in the country.

Worthy of note is that NITDA was lashed recently in Lagos, during a one-day forum on electronic business organized by the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) by stakeholders who blamed the agency of non-performance.

They argued that NITDEF could serve with the full status of an intervention parastatal in the likes of the Education Trust Fund and Petroleum Technology Development Fund, instead of counting dates for its director.

The agency was also challenged to come up with the activities they have executed in the last one year and stop pretending or hiding under any other guess on its inability to live up to the expectation of the stakeholders.

Meanwhile, speaking at the inauguration of the implementation Committee of the 2007 NITDA Act in Abuja, Angaye was quoted as saying that the fund would be deducted out of the tax paid to the federal government by these companies.

He also said it is not a new tax on the companies, “It is out of the share of the federal government” stressing that the one percent of the profit before tax of companies and enterprises enumerated in the Third Schedule to the Act must be in consonance with an annual turnover of N100,000,000 and above and such paid by the companies shall be tax deductible.

He further explained that the fund is necessary, mostly considering the challenges in the sector, maintaining that the Act would be of immense importance in moving the sector ahead.

Angaye noted that the IT initiatives need adequate funding to strive, pointing out that government would not shoulder the responsibilities alone.

The new law said, he said, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) shall assess and collect the levy imposed under section 12 of this Act. “The levy imposed under Section 12 of this Act shall be due and payable within 60 days after the Federal Inland Revenue Service has served notice of the assessment on a company in such form as the federal Inland Revenue Service may, from time to time, determine.”

He emphasized that any company, agency or organization that fails within two months after a demand note, to pay the levy or the import duty imposed under Section 11 of this Act, should be assumed to have committed an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine, to the tune of 1,000,000, while Chief Executive officer of such organization would be liable to prosecution.

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