Senate probes un-remitted N20tr stamp duty revenue

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…Collection agencies took advantage of Act, says Lawan

Sanni Onogu, Abuja

The Senate on Tuesday directed its Committee on Finance to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issue of over N20trillion un-remitted stamp duties revenue due to the Federal Government from banks and other financial institutions.

It said the investigative activities of the committee would start from 2013 to 2016 and “financial accountability of stamp duty collections from 2016 when the CBN officially directed all banks to collect on behalf of the Federal Government to date.”

The resolution of the Senate was sequel to a motion titled: “The need to improve Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Federal Government of Nigeria significantly by over N5trillion annually through non-oil revenue sources available at its disposal” moved by Senator Patrick Akinyelure.

In his contribution, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, blamed the non-remittance on stamp duty collection agencies.

“What we have been expecting to be available as stamp duty is not so and what has happened is because those that were supposed to collect the stamp duty were taking advantage of the way the Stamp Duty Act has been.

“I believe from January, the stamp duty collection will be significantly improved. We have also come up with another idea of engaging all revenue agencies every quarter for evaluation of their collections. The idea is not to allow agencies just do what they want,” Lawan said.

Akinyelure in his lead debate urged the Senate to note that the Federal Government had projected revenue of over N2.5billion annually from the payment of stamp duties from the financial services industry since 2016.

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The Ondo Central Senator said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had issued a circular directing all banks and other financial institutions to charge stamp duty of N50 on lodgment into current accounts with value of N1,000 and above, towards the realization of the revenue projection.

He noted that the CBN’s cash-less policy started from six pilot states in 2012, and that the amount is expected to double to N5trillion, since the policy was extended to 30 states on April 1, 2017.

He said that following the CBN’s circular, all Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions commenced charging the N50 per eligible transaction.

He lamented that in spite of the appointment of a consultant by the Federal Government in 2017 to help the country recover over N20trillion from Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), “the CBN and NIBSS have technically refused to comply with the Presidential directive.”

Senators Istifanus Gyang, Isah Jibrin, Rochas Okorocha and Ahmad Babba Kaita supported the motion.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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