Senator George Sekibo, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Navy, has declared that the letter purportedly written to the Senate by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on the debacle arising on who should collect Value Added Tax (VAT) in the country would not see the light of the day.
The revenue agency, in a desperate bid to retain the collection of VAT across the country, had written to the National Assembly to seek the inclusion of VAT collection in the exclusive legislative list. It also requested the federal lawmakers to approve for it the establishment of the Federal Revenue Court of Nigeria.
Sekibo said senators from the southern part of the country are waiting for the letter to be read on the floor of the Red Chamber, adding his colleague would oppose FIRS’ request for an amendment to the constitution.
To Sekibo, the FIRS was going against the constitution and that its action would be null and void.
“I know we are amending the constitution now, I dare the committee to bring it to the floor of the Senate, it will die because they will not get the required two-thirds to pass it,” the senator told the Punch.
“Even if they manage to get it at the National Assembly level, they will not get it at the state level and if we don’t support it in southern Nigeria, the FIRS proposal will die.”
Sekibo wondered why northern states could not collect tax on their cattle instead of depending on VAT realised from the sale of alcohol, when they see the product as a taboo.
“Every state specialises in different types of trade. In the North, there is nothing wrong if we can regulate the sale of cows and collect VAT on that and then use the proceeds to provide basic amenities for the people,” he argued.
He added: “The Federal Government has no business collecting VAT because it is not in the constitution (for them to do so). The issue of taxation is in the concurrent list and not on the exclusive legislative list.
“Most of the VAT payment comes from the sale of alcohol. In Rivers, for instance, VAT on alcohol is heavy. In Rivers and most of the southern states, people consume alcohol. You cannot generate VAT proceeds from alcohol and share it with people who even by their own religion condemn alcohol consumption.
“By collecting part of the proceeds from alcohol, are they not indirectly drinking alcohol? My thinking is that you abhor it, you don’t like it. You should not use money from it as well. It is a logical argument. The stand of Rivers and Lagos states on it is good for this country.”