BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – In a determined move to shore up its earnings badly depleted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has vowed to recover backlog of unremitted revenues in the last six years.
The revenue are accruals from Stamp Duty Tax collections and to handle this task is the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Audit and Recovery of Back Years Stamp Duties
President Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke at the official inauguration Inter-Ministerial Committee and Launch of the FIRS Adhesive Stamp at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Tuesday, said the challenges of dwindling revenue makes it imperative for government to spare no efforts at recovering all outstanding funds currently in wrong hands.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, the President said government is acting on the “assurance that the collection from stamp duty will be second to oil revenue, as it has the potential to yield up to a trillion Naira if properly harnessed”.
The President said: “In the face of dwindling oil revenue, and the global shift away from oil dependent technological products, it is even more compelling now to begin to think out of the box in order to safeguard the future of our country.
“Therefore, this administration has resolved to widen the revenue base by activating stamp duties revenue collection which has been neglected for more than 20 years.”
He therefore directed all institutions of government and related stakeholders to support the Inter-Ministerial Committee to enable it succeed on its assignment of boosting national income for the purpose of sustainable growth and development.
“I hereby also direct and request that all relevant MDAs, particularly the Central Bank of Nigeria, NIBBS, MDBs, FIRS, NIPOST should give maximum cooperation to the Committee in the discharge of its mandate”, President Buhari said
He said for the purposes of transparency and accountability in the recovery of back year stamp duty, all recoveries made by the Committee must be remitted to appropriate stamp duty account maintained by FGN with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Setting the tone for the event. Executive Chairman of Feferal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami, said the Service has boosted revenue accruing from Stamp Duties by over 1,000 per cent, totalling N66 billion in the first five months of 2020 alone.
According to him, the figure is so huge compared with the paltry N6 billion Naira collected from January to May 2019.
He said the increase was possible due to the dynamism triggered by Finance Act 2019; sums warehoused by the CBN in respect of prior years; the deployment of technology; and stakeholders’ collaboration.
“The introduction of the FIRS Stamp Duties Adhesive Stamp will, among other things, plug the revenue sink-hole; enable proper accountability and transparency; simplify administration of Stamp Duties; and reduce disputes”, Nami said.
In his intervention, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, said the FIRS deserved praise for its impressive revenue collection, promising that the National Assembly would continue to acknowledge, encourage, and support the initiatives and efforts of all revenue generating agencies of government.
Senate Lawan, who officially launched the adhesive stamp, said; “The Senate and the National Assembly will continue to provide the necessary legislative backings and oversight functions that will help maximise the revenue of government and ensure that government is better positioned to deliver its mandate.’”
For the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbjabiamila, the close collaboration existing between the FIRS and the Green chamber is laudable, even as he pledged the lawmakers’ commitment in backing the Service, especially in legislative interventions to help in its successful mandate delivery.
Also speaking, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, explained the importance of Stamp Duty as a tax type to help improve government’s earnings.
Mrs Ahmed, who acknowledged the stamp duty’s capacity to open untapped income sources for increased revenue collection, said government is conscious of the importance of the adhesive stamps in enhancing voluntary compliance by taxpayers.
Top government officials at the occasion included the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, among others.
They all stressed the need for stakeholders to move away from just mouthing the much-touted diversification of government’s revenue sources going forward