By Adedapo Adesanya
Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has informed members of the parliament that the decision of federal government to amend the Finance Bill was to make the economy better.
Speaking at a public hearing on the matter in Abuja, she explained that the main reason the executive arm of government submitted the bill for passage into law was to create an enabling business environment and alleviate the tax burden of small and medium enterprises.
Mrs Ahmed noted during her presentation at the legislative chambers on Tuesday that the newly revised economic-friendly bill will help boost the country’s local and foreign investors.
“The Finance Bill 2019 has generated a positive narrative from key stakeholders, economic analysts, tax experts and the general public.
“Furthermore, its provisions, if passed into law by the National Assembly, are likely to increase investor confidence and attract foreign direct investment,” she said.
It was revealed that the bill will amend the tax provisions and make them more responsive to the tax reform policies of the Federal Government and enhance its implementation and effectiveness.
In October 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, while presenting the 2020 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly, submitted the Finance Bill (Amend) 2019, where it was stated that the Value Added Tax (VAT) would be increased from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.
Since this revelation was made, the bill has come under heavy criticisms.
At the public hearing declared open by the Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, who was represented by the Deputy Senate President, Mr Omo-Agege, the nation’s number three citizen said the purpose of the ‘town hall’ meeting was to get inputs from critical stakeholders and the Nigerian public on the Finance Bill.
He said all views would be critically analysed by the Assembly before the passage of the Bill.
The session, which was also open to stakeholders and members of the public to make the Bill all-inclusive and featured experts and stakeholders from the private organized sector who made presentations were OPTS, PwC, KPMG, Joint Tax Board (JTB), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lyod, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and (CITN), Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN).
On their part, the representative from KPMG said: “We are very supportive of these revolutionary initiatives by the Government.” She added that her organization was in alignment with the direction of the Bill as well as the palliatives that the Bill has provided, to ensure that the most vulnerable in the society were catered for.
Meanwhile, the representative from MAN suggested that both tax and levies should be harmonized while also suggesting that sections 7 and 89 should be revisited while the SMEDAN module be adopted in the categorization of micro, small and medium enterprises.
Contributing to the matter, representatives from the CITN advised that the Bill should rather put the responsibility of collecting Stamp Duties on the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
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