The Federal Inland Revenue Service has indicted state governments of failing to pay Value Added Tax to the tune of N41bn to the Federal Government’s coffers.
The Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, made this known to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting of the National Economic Council presided over by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo.
This came just as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has faulted the provisions in Section 31 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Act, which permits the freezing of accounts of tax defaulters.
Badaru said the indebtedness of the state governments formed part of the presentation made to the council by the Chairman of the FIRS, Babatunde Fowler.
The governor quoted the FIRS boss as saying that the state governments had only remitted about N40bn VAT and withholding tax to the FIRS between January and July.
He said Fowler also told the council members of some initiatives meant to improve tax collection and remittance from the states.
Badaru said, “We had a briefing from the Chairman of the FIRS. It dwelt on the two aspects of tax. One is the Value Added Tax that is being collected by states. He informed the states what the positions are, that there is outstanding VAT from the states to the tune of N41bn.
“The FIRS also came up with new techniques/platform that will help in VAT/withholding tax collection. It is very important when talking of zero oil economy. Currently, a lot is going on, on how to remit tax. With the new initiative, tax can now be transferred to the Federal Government.
“He said, so far, from January to date, about N40bn had been remitted from the states. This is a significant figure from what happened last year. So, the states are well notified and they are willing to pay.”
Badaru also briefed on the measures by NEC to optimise the contributions of the Micro Small Medium Enterprises to the nation’s tax profile. According to him, the number of the MSMEs in the country had reached 37 million.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, reported to NEC that as of August 14, 2018 that the balance in the Excess Crude Account stood at $2, 250, 434, 918.00; Stabilisation Fund Account, N21, 591, 091, 564.37; and Natural Resources Development Fund, N143, 479, 688, 711. 25.
Meanwhile, Badaru confirmed to journalists that the Nigeria Governors Forum had engaged the services of lawyers to challenge the probe of states’ security votes by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. EFCC had recently initiated a process to probe Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom’s security votes, drawing the wrath of the state chief executives.
Badaru confirmed to newsmen that the issue was discussed by the governors in their meeting in Abuja on Wednesday night and our lawyers had been instructed to investigate the case.
“The issue was discussed at the governors’ forum and the position is that we will have our lawyers see the legality of doing that. “After giving us the report, then we will see the next line of action to take,” he said.
In a related development, the Director-General, LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, has described the provisions in section 31 of the FIRS Act as ‘draconian’.
The Act gives the FIRS the powers to appoint collection agents for the recovery of tax payable by the taxpayer. Such agent will be mandated to pay any tax payable by the taxpayer from any money held by the agent on behalf of the taxpayer.
The chamber was reacting to a recent decision by the FIRS to appoint banks as collecting agents and freeze accounts of taxpayers considered to be in default of tax payment. The FIRS had directed that such account be debited to the tune of the tax debt.
“This provision is draconian and could be used as a tool of intimidation, coercion and harassment of taxpayers. It should be invoked with utmost discretion and caution,” Yusuf said.
In a statement on Thursday, the LCCI DG pointed out that the provision in the FIRS Act could be used as a tool of intimidation, coercion and harassment of taxpayers.
He said, “It should be invoked with utmost discretion and caution. The LCCI is a strong proponent of regulatory compliance by private sector players. However, it is important to underscore the fact that tax administration should be in consonance with the basic tenets of the rule of law and the fundamental principles of a good tax system.
“Tax administration should be consistent with the basic principles of equity, fairness, legality and accountability. The LCCI is concerned about the recent turn of events, especially the freezing of accounts of bank customers based on tax assessments that are in dispute. This development raises a number of key concerns which need to be urgently addressed.” He noted.
FG to deploy 100 electric buses
President Bola Tinubu has said Nigeria is taking a significant step towards a sustainable and eco-friendly future by introducing a pioneering initiative to deploy a fleet of 100 electric buses.
The President spoke at a high-level meeting with stakeholders and investors on the Nigeria Carbon Market and Electric Buses Rollout Programme on Saturday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the margins of the COP28 climate summit.
President Tinubu explained that the strategic initiative is aimed at significantly reducing Nigeria’s carbon footprint and modernizing the country’s transportation systems as part of a larger effort to position Nigeria and Africa as the pioneering frontier of green manufacturing and industrialization with a focus on natural gas as a transition fuel alongside other renewable energy sources.
To spearhead this transformative plan, the President announced the appointment of the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC), Mr. Dahiru Salisu, to co-chair the Nigeria Carbon Market Activation Plan.
”This initiative stands as a testament to our dedication to environmental stewardship as clearly exemplified through our collaboration with the Africa Carbon Market Initiative. Our visionary plan is a strategic guidepost, directing Nigeria towards becoming an investment-friendly destination for carbon market investments.
”We recognize the imperative of fostering an environment that not only attracts investment but also upholds standardized and sustainable industrial practices. As a manifestation of our forward-thinking approach, we are actively looking to implement robust, enabling policies and frameworks that will serve as the catalyst for the burgeoning growth of the carbon market within our national borders.
”In further driving my commitment, I have recently approved an Inter-governmental Committee on Carbon Markets to be chaired by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change to drive this visionary plan,” the President stated.
The President assured prospective investors that this initiative transcends being a mere pilot project.
”It is a concrete manifestation of our unwavering dedication to a carbon-neutral future. I assure you; this is only the commencement of our ambitious plans, with many more impactful initiatives on the horizon,” he said.
President Tinubu, while acknowledging the pressing need for a comprehensive global collaboration on climate-related challenges, called on global partners to join hands in accelerating collective efforts towards a net-zero future.
”As we unveil our initiatives, I challenge other nations to emulate our strides in mapping out their sustainable futures with a clear understanding that Africa is a beacon of innovative solutions to climate-related challenges.
”In this pursuit, we acknowledge the pressing need for comprehensive global collaboration, and we reiterate our commitment to being an active participant in international efforts.
”Nigeria’s plans for a greener and cleaner economy can serve as an inspirational narrative for nations worldwide. Our comprehensive approach, rooted in visionary leadership and pragmatic action supported by our technical partners, is poised to become a blueprint for countries aspiring to also develop and catalyze their markets for sustainable growth,” the President concluded.
In his remarks, FIRS Chairman, Mr. Zacch Adedeji acknowledged the visionary leadership of President Tinubu as the guiding force behind Nigeria’s commitment to harnessing its vast carbon potential.
At COP28, Sanwo-Olu seeks funding to address supply of clean water in Lagos
Governor of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu has sought global support for funding in Lagos state to be able to provide clean water.
The Governor speaking at a side meeting with the theme: “Valuing Water: A Lifeline in Climate Transition”, organised by Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum and Sustainable Market Initiative at the ongoing 28th session of Conference of Parties (COP28) at Dubai Exhibition Centre pitched a sustainable funding proposal in order to raise private and philanthropic funding in addressing inadequate water infrastructure and supply shortages in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that Lagos, with 22 million population, has a daily demand of 700 million gallons of portable water, but said the State could hardly supply 210 million gallons per day due to shortage of infrastructure.
The Governor said, although provision of clean water had been generally considered a social service, it was an essential element of economic necessity, given its importance to keeping humans healthy.
Lagos, he said, is challenged by increasing demand for clean water. Sanwo-Olu said the inadequacy of supply infrastructure could raise disease vulnerability in underserved communities, pointing out that the State, despite being surrounded by abundant water bodies, could only manage to utilise 40 per cent of its installed water facilities.
He said: “Lagos has an investment of about $2.8 billion in water infrastructure, but there is a burden on the huge population, as we need to create an ecosystem where we can have access to basic needs in the 21st century. Given our meagre resources, it is really a challenge but we certainly cannot continue to give excuses. This gap is being felt by underserved communities and the risk to the public is high.”
“We have continued to allocate resources to this sector from our budget, but the intervention is hardly enough to serve the needs of the residents. Four years ago, I gave a commitment of $100 million, but this is like a drop, given the number of investments required to fully explore the potential in the sector. We have huge infrastructure that is not being utilised, making us to operate at less than 40 per cent of the installed capacity.”
“Out of the $1.7 trillion needed globally to address the gap in clean water adequacy, Lagos requires less one per cent of the funds to provide safe water. It is my belief that this conversation would lead to sustainable solution that would meet the needs of millions of people that want water adequacy. Our goal is making committed partners believe in economic viability of their investments.”
Sanwo-Olu listed the country’s energy crisis as another factor slowing down the provision of clean water, stressing that irregular power supply rendered resources allocated to the sector inefficient.
The Governor called for equity in global investment towards accelerating water adequacy, noting that humans, regardless of their gender and geographical location, need equal access to clean water.
With 65 per cent of its population made up of young people of under 30, Sanwo-Olu told the funders that Lagos remained an African asset on which viable investments could be made.
The side meeting, which was moderated by the Secretary General of Insurance Development Forum, Ms. Ekhosuehi Iyahen, had seven other panelists, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WaterAid, Tim Wainright, Chief Sustainability Officer of PepsiCo, and CEO of Dalmia Cement in India, Mahendra Singh.
Others are Chief Operating Officer of Water.org, Vedika Bhandarkar, Managing Partner of AquaForAll, Josien Sluijs, Assistant Director General of Food and Agriculture Organisation at UN, Maximo Torero, and former CEO of Mars, Incorporated, Grant Reid.
COP28: Gov Eno joins President Tinubu in Dubai
Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency Pastor Umo Eno, is part of the delegation led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR at the ongoing COP28 climate conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Delegates from nearly 200 countries, leaders in business and finance, and representatives of civil society are gathering in Dubai from November 30 to December 12 for the COP28 climate conference, aiming to fast-track the transition to a clean-energy future.
COP28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), occurring annually.
Also in the President’s entourage are the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo, President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Group CEO of NNPCL, Mele Kyari and the newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Okokon Ekanem Udo, among others.
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