Awaji-Inombek Abiante, the lawmaker representing the Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State in the House of Representatives, has said it is unfair for states which prohibit the consumption of beer to get Value Added Tax (VAT) from the product.
Making a subtle reference to the northern states which outlaw alcohol consumption, Abiante said in an interview that is not justifiable for such states to collect VAT as they do not want to be associated with developments concerning the product.
The lawmaker also insisted that states must be able to retain 50 per cent of their revenue generated from natural resources.
“Let me tell you why that one is important. There are some people who go to club, they drink and they get ‘high’ (drunk). They pay VAT on the drinks. Somebody else will sit down somewhere saying ‘I am very holy; I am a very holy man’ but also collects from that (tax) which the unholy man has paid. How justifiable is that?” Abiante told the Punch.
“You don’t do ‘owambe’ (party) but somebody is doing ‘owambe’ and you say ‘owambe’ is evil. So, allow those who suffer or who will suffer the hazards of the ‘owambe’ (to enjoy the VAT) because ‘owambe’ comes with its own hazards. People drink, get drunk, drive and have an accident. I don’t pray for that. People get into clubs and there is noise pollution which people suffer from. So, let them enjoy from them, including VAT.
“The pre-Independence arrangement indicated Pay-As-You-Earn; that one is for the states. (There is) no problem with that. However, every other resource should be 50 per cent; the state should also take it. The 50 per cent argument is not just for natural resources but also Value Added Tax, so that the man in Lagos who generates so much resource (for the government) from his activities will be able to have a return.
“For example, how many people from Apapa, Lagos are benefiting from the ports there? What are the hazards in Apapa? You cannot drive your car, there is traffic every day, you are suffering health challenges, yet you are not enjoying from what is (generated) there. How many of them have been made the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority?
“Members of the House of Representatives from Lagos State once proposed special status for the state in the 8th Assembly for being a former federal capital and generating the highest non-oil revenue for the country, but it met stiff opposition, especially from their colleagues from the North. Also, all the geopolitical zones now want development commissions after the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the North East Development Commission. Do these not confirm agitation over resources?”