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Expect Additional Taxes, FG Tells Nigerians

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The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed says there might be the introduction of new tariffs and levies in 2022 as the economy was now on a recovery path.

Ahmed made this known while addressing stakeholders at a public hearing on the 2021 Finance Bill organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance on Monday in Abuja.

She said that a couple of reforms and amendments had been recommended in the draft 2021 Finance amendment bill saying that more will be introduced in the middle of 2022.

The minister said that modest changes had been proposed but that more fiscal reforms were still in view as the ministry could not take all the proposals collected from stakeholders.

”Our aspiration is to do a midterm review with a possibility of another Finance Bill in mid-year 2022 to bring in more amendments,” she said

The minister said that there are ongoing legal cases in court against the Federal Government on VAT and Stamp Duties which was why the ministry stayed off those areas.

She however, expressed hope that by mid-2022, the cases might have been dispensed with and then reforms in those areas could be proposed for parliament to consider.

Ahmed said that there might be need to revisit the antiquated Stamp Duties and Capital Gains Tax for holistic reform by the parliament.

“We prepared this draft bill along five reform areas, the first domestic revenue mobilisation, the second is tax administration and legislative drafting, third is International taxation, fourth is financial sector reforms and tax equity and fifth is improving public financial management reform.

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“The provision in the draft bill is proposing to amend the Capital Gains Tax Act, Company Income Tax, FIRS Establishment Act, Personal Income Tax, Stamp Duties Act and Tertiary Education Act, Value Added Tax, Insurance Police Trust Fund and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

“This is to amend the Police Trust Fund Act and the Nigerian Trust Fund Acts, the purpose is to empower the FIRS to collect the Nigerian trust fund levies on companies on behalf of the fund itself.

“Currently, because there is no such provision, the FIRS is unable to start collecting on behalf of the fund. Also, it is to streamline the tax and the levy collection from the Nigerian companies in line with Mr President’s administration ease of doing business policy.

“So we do not have NASENI going out to collect that tax, the FIRS will collect on their behalf during their collection process and it will be passed through to them,’’ she said.

Ahmed said that the bill was a product of the President Muhmmadu Buhari’s commitment made while presenting the 2022 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly on October 8, 2021.

He said that the ministry had worked with relevant stakeholders and Fiscal Policy Reform Committee to draft the 2021 Finance bill.

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Speaking, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said that the 2021 Finance Bill seeks to introduce strategic and broadminded, positive reforms that will engender best practices and guarantee interest of the investing public and businesses.

He said that the bill seeks to statutorily check borrowing by local, state, and Federal governments, enhance transparency and accountability in the administration in various strata of tax and public revenue generation.

“It is instructive to state that the essence of the 2021 bill is to further reposition our finance system to plug wastes, close openings for corruption, create opportunities for employment as well as stimulate stability and growth in our productive sectors, within the wider context of our quest for economic recovery in our country.

“Given the democratic credentials of the House of Representatives under my watch as well as the need to further deepen the credibility of the process through wider participation of stakeholders, this stakeholders meeting has been designed to give Nigerians and critical stakeholders in the industry the ample opportunity to own and drive the process.

“In this hall, we have very proficient professionals and experts, who as stakeholders, investors, development partners, and interest groups have submitted memoranda and are ready to make contributions to the bill.

“It is on this backdrop that I charge this stakeholders meeting to extensively scrutinize the templates in the bill in the general interest.

“We must strengthen the institution to strategically check reckless borrowings by ensuring accountability in the use of borrowed funds and ensuring that the borrowings shall be on concessional terms or at relatively low-interest rates and subject to the rigorous of legislation,’’ he said.

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The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. James Faleke (APC-Lagos state) said that the finance bill is geared towards assisting the economy and the implementation of the 2022 budget.

He said that all stakeholders have the opportunity to speak and make their contributions to the bill before it is passed into law.

He, however, urged the stakeholders to observe the COVID-19 protocol and feel free to speak on the bill as the lawmakers would take into consideration every view expressed at the hearing.

President Muhammadu Buhari on December  7, transmitted a letter to the Senate, urging it to consider and pass the Finance (Amendment) Bill 2021.

Buhari said the Finance Bill would guide the implementation of the soon-to-be passed Appropriation Act, 2022.

He said the Finance Bill, 2021, seeks to support the implementation of the 2022 Federal Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability by proposing key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal, and other relevant laws.

Specifically, Buhari said, the Bill provides for enhancing domestic revenue mobilization efforts to increase tax and non-tax revenues, Tax Administration, and Legislative Drafting Reforms, particularly to support the ongoing automation reforms by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). 

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