Reps seek amicable resolution of issues
BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is hugely excited that about N3 billion is being generated as weekly returns from stamp duty collection in the country.
Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami said the stamp duty weekly revenue came through Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) from May 2020 till date .
He disclosed this during an interface with the House of Representatives Committee on Finance in Abuja on Tuesday even as aching Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) insists on a fair deal in its share of the stamp duty proceeds collected and domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fom 2016 to 2020.
Nami said the Service was able to achieve such huge mileage from a single stream of stamp duty collection from DMBs by deploying a new technology to track and capture such accruals straight into the federation account.
The meeting with the lawmakers sought to address the current face-off between FIRS and NIPOST over stamp duty collection as well as issues surrounding the N58 billion income that accrued between February 2016 and April, 2020.
Presided over by the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, James Abiodun Faleke, the session had in attendance other Committee members; Post- Master General of the Federation Dr Ismail Adebanjo Adewusi; NIPOST board Chairman, Barrister Maimuna Yaya Abubarkar; top officials of the postal agency and FIRS officials.
Nami explained that the device deployed by FIRS is the Application Programming Interface (API) technology solution, an – online real time technology that makes collection of Stamp Duties easier.
According to him, after assuming office in December 2019, FIRS discovered over N30 billion in the NIPOST Stamp duty Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), adding that the account was opened in 2016 specifically to warehouse revenue from stamp duty collection.
Nami however stated that by April 2020, the balance in the account had grown to N58 billion because of the deployment of the API by the FIRS.
He said by May 2020, funds in the stamp duty account was transferred to the Federation Account following instructions given to the CBN by the FIRS to do so.
Since then, both FIRS and NIPOST have been at daggers drawn over who controls stamp duty collection and invariably the money which accrues from the collection.
Nami said payment of Stamp Duties collection in Nigeria dates back 94 years ago, stressing that stamp duty had always been part of the revenue schedule of tax authority.
He regretted that the differences in who controls stamp duty collection had degenerated into a public spat between the two agencies, describing the development as “unnecessary and unhelpful”.
According to him, “the FIRS regrets that as agencies of government, FIRS and NIPOST allow a simple situation to degenerate to media exposure”.
Also speaking at the session, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIPOST, Dr Ismail Adebanjo Adewusi described the feud as needless.
According to him, “as prelude, it’s important to make this remark. NIPOST is not a tax collecting agency. We are not in the business of collecting taxes, that’s not our mandate. But our role in stamp duty is clearly stated in the law.
“The issue is, the Finance Act, 2019 did not in any way stop NIPOST from its mandate. In spite of amendment to finance Act, it has not affected the responsibility of NIPOST. There is no fight between NIPOST and FIRS over tax collection”
Insisting that the responsibility of procuring stamp rests with NIPOST, he appealed that the agency is entitled to its share of the stamp duty proceeds it collected and domiciled in the CBN fom 2016 to 2020.
He told the House Committee that “all the monies that accrued to the account include proceeds of stamp sales”, adding; “In the spirit of peace, we want FIRS to look at the issue. We deserve to share cost of collection. At the initial meeting, FIRS said they will give us 30 percent and take 70 percent, and we said no”.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the House Finance Committee, Abiodun Faleke said they were embarrassed by the public engagement of both agencies in addressing the issue.
He however said having heard presentations by both sides, it would be foolhardy to just take a decision immediately, promising that the Committee “will go back, look at all legal issues raised and reconvene”
On why both organisations were invited to appear before them, the lawmaker said; “as a Committee responsible for overseeing finance agencies, we decided to call for this dialogue to see if the agencies are doing the bidding of the law”.