Nigeria Senate has passed the finance Bill. The Bill which was passed during plenary after it scaled through the third reading on the floor of the House, seeks to amend six tax provisions and make them more responsive to tax reform policies. The bill also seeks to amend the Customs and Excise Tariff Act to encourage local manufacturers. Other component under the bill include Companies Income Tax, Value Added Tax, Customs and Excise Tariff, Capital Gains Tax Act, Petroleum Profit Tax, Personal Income Tax, and Stamp Duties Act.
The passage of the bill followed the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Finance by Senator Adeola Solomon. Lawmakers present, thereafter, shared their various perspectives on the effects of the bill on the nation and its people. In his contribution, Senator Barau Jibrin informed his colleagues that the committee has put into consideration the need for Nigeria to reposition its system in order to strengthen its revenue base. Similarly, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya believes revenue generation is a major problem facing the country and economic issues should not be politicised. He said, “The problem of our economy is the problem of revenue; the issue of economy is one that is beyond politics to me. Whether it is APC today or PDP tomorrow, we have to come out and look at this matter in a non-partisan way.”
In his remarks, Senator Ibikunle Amosun stressed that there was no way the country would realise its intentions without sufficient revenue. He was also hopeful that all funds generated would not be looted but would be judiciously used for the growth of the nation. The lawmaker aligned himself with Senator Yahaya’s position that the lawmakers must look beyond politics. “This is not about party but about our country. I will support this bill and will urge my colleagues that we should do away with partisanship,” he stated. Meanwhile, some lawmakers expressed concerns over some of the tax bills as the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, insisted that the Value Added Tax (VAT) should be left at 5 per cent instead of the proposed increase to 7.5 per cent.
His contribution was, however, not taken into consideration by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, who ruled that Senator Abaribe should have raised the alarm during the second reading and not when the committee submitted its report. The Senate President explained that the bill does not putting taxes on Nigerians but the Federal Government was trying to create the revenue necessary for the provision of schools, healthcare, and an economy that works for everyone. “With time, we should look at things to do in case some hard unintended consequences come up,” he said. Senate President Lawan thanked his colleagues for the passage of the bill which he said would ensure that the nation’s tax system was streamlined.