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Senate probes N20trn unremitted stamp duties from banks, others

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Godwin Emefiele

Senate has mandated its Committee on Finance to investigate the non-remittance of over N20 trillion into the Federation Account by Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, an amount allegedly collected as stamp duties from banks and financial institutions in the country.

The resolution was sequel to the consideration of a motion on “The need to improve Internally Generated Revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria through non-oil revenue”, sponsored by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central), during plenary.

Presenting the motion, Akinyelure said that the CBN had in January 2016, issued a circular directing all banks and financial institutions to charge stamp duty of N50 on lodgments into current accounts against revenue projections by the federal government of N2.5 trillion annually.

He noted that after the issuance of the said circular by the CBN, all deposit money banks and financial institutions effected N50 per eligible transaction in accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Duty Act 2004 and Federal government Financial Regulations 2009.

According to him, despite efforts by the federal government to recover over N20 trillion from Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems, NIBBS to the Federation Account, “the Central Bank of Nigeria and NIBBS have technically refused to comply with the Presidential directives for the recovery of over N20 trillion revenue into the coffers of government.”

“The CBN and NIBSS deliberately failed to cooperate and comply with the directives of Mr. President for the realization of over N20 trillion revenue due from stamp duties collected for 2013 to 2016 and subsequently over N5 trillion minimum revenue due to be collected annually to the Federation account to be shared among States of the Federation for infrastructural and economic development,” he added.

Akinyelure lamented that since the implementation of the collection of stamp duties, “accountability by banks has not been transparent and no report by CBN or its subsidiary (NIBSS) to the Nigerian public to know the actual revenue generated, collected and transferred to the Federation Account.”

He recalled that the House of Representatives and National Economic Council had in May 2019, waded into the matter and recommended all agencies to support the Federal Government recovery mandate on the over N20 trillion stamp duty.

He stated that the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property, SPIP and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) have adopted the combined resolutions of the House of Representatives and National Economic Council.

The lawmaker lamented that before the Joint Task Force could swing into action to recover the unremitted amount, the CBN in August 2019 released a report that its borrowings to banks will hit N23 trillion by the end of this year.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said, “I engaged the Ministry of Finance and CBN for an interaction, and I discovered that what we have been expecting to be available as stamp duty is not so.

“I was under the impression that we had over N20 trillion somewhere. It will interest you to know that we don’t even have N1 trillion.

“What has happened is because those that are supposed to collect the stamp duties were taking advantage of the non-electronic transaction.

“With the passage of the finance bill, this is an opportunity we have to start getting what ordinarily should go to the government.”

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