From Fred Itua, Abuja
Setting the stage for aggressive revenue drive for the Implementation of the N13.08 trillion 2021 budget, the Senate, yesterday, passed for second reading, the Finance Bill 2020 it received from the Presidency, on Tuesday, for consideration.
This was as senators, during debate on the bill seeking amendments to some provisions in 12 different Acts , kicked against existing tax regime making the poor to be subsidising the rich.
In his lead debate on the bill, the leader of the Senate , Senator Abdullahi Yahaya, said the 2021 Appropriation Bill is based on the provisions of the Bill which aimed at generation of additional revenues to be used for funding of capital provisions component of health, education and other sectors of the economy.
According to him, the bill seeks to amend the Capital Gains Tax Act; Companies Income Tax Act; Personal Income Tax Act; Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment) Act; Customs and Excise Tariff, etc (Consolidated) Act; Value Added Tax; Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act; Nigeria Export Processing Zone Act; Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act; Fiscal Responsibility Act; Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 and Public Procurement Act, in order to make further provisions in connection with Federal Government Financial Management, Public Revenue and other relevant matters.
Highlighting the strategic objectives of the bill, the Senate leader said : “It seeks to adopt appropriate counter-cyclical fiscal policies to respond to the economic and revenue challenges precipitated by the decline in international oil prices, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Nigerian economy.
“Reform extant Fiscal Policies to prioritise job creation, economic growth, socio-economic development, domestic revenue mobilisation, as well as to foster closer coordination with Monetary and Trade Policies;
“Provide fiscal relief for taxpayers by reducing the applicable minimum tax rate for two (2) consecutive years of assessment, as well as reforming the commencement and cessation rules for small businesses.
“Propose measures to fund the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Pandemic response and introduce provisions to enhance the recovery of corporate donations towards responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as any similar crises in the future;
“Amend certain aspects of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to align this Act with the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as well as to enhance fiscal efficiencies by controlling the cost-to-revenue ratios of key State and Government Owned Enterprises; and amend the Public Procurement Act, to implement key procurement reforms previously proposed by the National Assembly, in 2019, to extend the scope of the Act to the Federal Judiciary and Legislature, accelerate procurement processes, increase mobilisation fee thresholds and provide for essential e-procurement reforms.”
Specifically, the Senate Leader said under Value Added Tax ( VAT), a new section 8 is being processed to cater for the registration of taxable person upon commencement of business.
According to him, the penalty for failure to register has been increased from N10,000 to N50,000 in the first month and from N5, 000 to N25,000 in the subsequent months.
Ahead of passing the bill along with the 2021 budget estimates , the President of the Senate , mandated the Senate Committees on Finance , Customs and Public Procurement to work on it and submit report back to the Senate within one week.