Nigeria: Reps Boycott Hearing On Finance Bill

(file photo)
20 November 2019

Members of the House of Representatives yesterday boycotted a public hearing on the Finance Bill, organised by a joint committee of the National Assembly to collate stakeholders' views on the seven bills submitted by President Buhari last month.

The finance bill was introduced by the Federal Government to boost its revenue base for the projections of the 2020 budget estimates.

In giving the proposed tax reforms legislative inputs, the finance bill had passed second reading in both chambers penultimate week.

The aggrieved lawmakers alleged secrecy in the planning of the hearing which they claimed was funded by a government agency.

One of them alleged: "The Senate treats us with disdain and this has to stop. We only heard about the hearing when we saw the adverts in the newspapers. This is an insult and this has to stop."

The Senate, however, went ahead with the hearing and considered the seven bills including the Company Income Tax 2004, the Value Added Tax 2007, the Customs and Excise Tariff 2004, the Personal Income Tax 2007, the Capital Gains Tax 2007, the Stamp Duties Act 2004 and the Petroleum Profit Tax 2004.

At the hearing session, stakeholders disagreed on the proposal to increase Value Added Tax from 5% to 7.5 % as well as N50 stamp duties on all forms of transaction and percentage increase on Petroleum Profit Tax .

The Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS), in a presentation by its spokesperson, Shobayo, said "the introduction of 7.5- 10% withholding tax on dividends paid out of petroleum profits as contained in sections 5& 26 of the bill would increase tax liability in addition to the pre-existing 85% PPT rate and erode returns on investment.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria kicked against the proposed VAT increase and N50 stamp duties.

The Minister of Finance , Zainab Ahmed and the chairman of the committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, said the proposed reforms were geared towards sweeping changes in government's taxation policy for sustainable economic growth and development.

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