Why Fintech Firms Lose Pioneer Status Inventive

0
Photo Source: Technext

Rarzack Olaegbe


This would also assuage some of the challenges plaguing the industry. It is expected that these incentives would encourage foreign investment. It would bridge the local data and technology infrastructure gap. It would minimize brain drain. It would create employment opportunities. It would enhance the digital economy, survival, and growth of start-ups.


 

Holiday refreshes you. It breaks your daily routine. It allows you room to leave your usual chores. It provides you with the time to entertain friends and families. Holidays foster a sense of community and goodwill. It fuels your inner will to re-establish proper perspective.

It puts spring in your feet. Wings on your mind. It is important. That is why every nation has some holidays. Holiday is a part of the glue that binds people together.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: ‘The Oratory’, Movie on Street Children To Tackle Street Urchins, Sexual Abuse

Besides providing common reasons for celebration, it helps you to share a common identity with colleagues and relations. That is why in some firms taking some days off is compulsory. With the holiday, you are relaxed. Without it, you suffer burnout. With it, you are recharged. Without it, you can become incoherent. With it, you are happier.

But I am not sure if Olugbenga Agboola, the chief executive officer of Flutterwave, and his team would be happier with the news from the stable of the Federal Government (FG). The news from the corridor of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) is not glowing.

The NIPC report on pioneer status incentive (PSI) applications for the first quarter of 2021 is unhappy. The report shows that applications from 10 companies seeking pioneer status under the industrial development income tax relief Act (IDITRA) have been turned down. The PSI is a tax holiday. It grants qualifying industries and products relief from payment of corporate income tax for an initial period of three years. This can be extended for additional one or two years.

Six Nigerian fintech startups to keep an eye on - Ventureburn

NIPC report indicates that the pioneer industries eligible for this tax incentive include information technology, manufacturing, electricity and gas supply, waste management, construction, trade, and administrative services among others. Flutterwave Technology Solutions is among the firms whose tax holiday applications were rejected. FG said the applications of Flutterwave and three other applicants were time-barred. This implies that Flutterwave may not have applied for PSI within the stipulated three years. Perhaps, the applications were submitted at a later date.

Application for the pioneer status is expected to be made in the first year of business. Companies seeking to apply must also demonstrate in real terms, tangible impact that their businesses will have on the economy. The businesses must have tangible assets worth at least N100 million. Obviously, the applicants have assets. Perhaps the assets do not carry the required price tag of N100 million.

How did we get here? To recognize the potential of the information technology and by extension fintech sector, the FG announced that the sector qualifies for pioneer status incentives. Therefore, NIPC rolled out new guidelines for application. This is to encourage and attract investment into the sector. The sector has been identified as having the greatest potential to impact development and economic growth.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Nigeria’s Transportation Startup, Shuttlers Raises $1.6M Seed Round

The FG expected the inclusion of software development and e-commerce industries on the pioneer status list to stimulate entrepreneurial drive and the emergence of new businesses.  The thinking of the government is that this impact would be felt especially among the youth.

This would also assuage some of the challenges plaguing the industry. It is expected that these incentives would encourage foreign investment. It would bridge the local data and technology infrastructure gap. It would minimize brain drain. It would create employment opportunities. It would enhance the digital economy, survival, and growth of start-ups.

Over the years, the sector has witnessed the emergence of notable companies. Some of these companies include Interswitch, Etranzact, SystemSpecs, Mainone, Andela, Flutterwave, Paystack, Social Lender et al. According to the NIPC report, 17 companies received approval in principle. These firms are expected to pay application fees. After this, their applications will become effective. In addition, the report further disclosed that there are 33 PSI beneficiaries. The applications of 132 companies are pending.

Well, as it stands, no fintech firm got the PSI. Research has shown that there are no special incentive schemes for investment in fintech specifically. In fintech, small companies’ tax exemptions are applicable to firms with a turnover of N25 million and below N100 million. These firms are liable to pay companies income tax at the rate of 20 percent of taxable profits. This is lower than the generally applicable rate of 30 percent.

On the other hand, the company income tax as amended (CITA) provides that the profits reserved by a company for purposes of research and development are tax-deductible, provided such reserves do not exceed 10 percent of the total assessable profit for the company.

Some other companies that are engaged in the production of pioneer products such as software and e-commerce are entitled to pioneer status. If they get it, these companies can enjoy corporate tax relief. They can get a tax holiday for an initial term of three years from the production date of the pioneer company. This may be extended for another period of one year.

This can further be pushed for another year. This is subject to some factors. These factors are relative to the national development of the industry and employment generation capacity at the relevant time. Companies under the pioneer status would not pay the companies income tax. They would not pay tertiary education tax. They would not pay withholding tax on the payment of dividends.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: ‘Nigeria’s Negative Realities Abroad Dampen Its Economy’ – Pat Utomi

Return to Flutterwave. As a pioneer in the fintech space, had Flutterwave’s application succeeded, it would have benefitted from all of these goodies. This will gladden the hearts of the executives. And the shareholders of Flutterwave. Agboola and his team will be entitled to an all-expense-paid holiday. In one of the sun-kissed islands in the Bahamas. Anyway, with or without a tax holiday, you deserve a sumptuous holiday in the sun.

Do you want us to share your enterprise and brand stories to the world on our platform for effective business leads and returns?

Kindly call this number, +2348063450905 or send an email to news@enterpriseceo.ng.

We will be glad to tell your impact stories.

Follow enterpriseceo.ng on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.