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Senate asks FG to stop tax waivers

Senate pic 1

The Senate Committee on Appropriations has, on Wednesday, called on the Federal Government to stop the provision of tax waivers and concessions to corporate entities.

The committee expressed concern that the nation is experiencing substantial revenue loss due to the tax waivers and incentives.

As an alternative, the committee proposed that companies should fulfill their tax obligations entirely to contribute to government funds and subsequently apply for rebates if necessary.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Adeola Olamilekan (APC, Ogun West), and other members stated this during an interactive session on the 2024 budget with the  Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and his counterpart from the Budget and Economic Planning Ministry, Atiku Bagudu.

The finance minister had told the panel that Nigeria lost about N3 trillion to tax waivers this year.

Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger) said the FG should adopt the system of withholding taxes for tax waivers.

He said, “If you look at tax credits and the waivers, why can’t we adopt a system like what we are doing with withholding taxes? Withholding taxes is going into a fund. After a while, if you can prove that you have paid all your taxes, they pay you your rebate back. So, why can’t we do the same?”

Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) said the government should be bold enough to stop the tax credits and waivers just as it did with the fuel subsidy.

He said, “I think we should be bold enough just like the president is very bold. I still want to use this opportunity to commend him for his speech to say there is no more fuel subsidy.

“If he were to consult and talk to people, the subsidy would have still been there. So, if you come out from here and declare that no more waivers, it must be appropriated, and you as the Minister of Finance can do that. We have to make bold decisions.

Some people are taking advantage unnecessarily of Nigerians and benefiting to the detriment of Nigerians. We talk about tax credits; it is an expenditure and it should go through the National Assembly and there are no two ways about that.”

The Senator added, “Look at these illegalities, remove them, and then let us move ahead. If not, this country is being drained by some loopholes. It is our loopholes in revenue collection that is killing this country.

“Few people are taking advantage of it. Look at the tax credit they collected for roads, up till now they did not do the roads. So, what the Constitution says is very clear. The ball is in your court, the President has done his own, no more subsidy, five months after Nigerians said yes but let us see the benefit and they are seeing the benefits bit by bit and more is coming.”

Olamilekan said the committee had agreed that all taxes should be paid to the coffers of the government and then corporate entities should apply for rebates.

Since this is a transition period, can we half it? The provision for these waivers should be reduced by 50 per cent,” he said.

The finance minister, in his response, said the lawmakers’ advice would be looked into by the federal government’s fiscal policy and tax reform committee.

Edun said, “In trying to implement such a laudable policy, it is important to look at the practicality and decide how it can be done, whether it can be done in one fell swoop, or whether there are some obvious exceptions.

“That has to be looked at, and the devil is in the details. But I think we are all agreeing that we should try as much as possible to move to a rebate system rather than up-front granting of waivers and other incentives even including interest incentives.”

Edun added, “So if somebody is going to be given a concessional interest rate, they pay the normal interest, carry out the transaction, and then they get a rebate.

“The fiscal policy and tax reform committee is very careful about that and what you have advised today will be taken as important input into our work.”

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