By Adedapo Adesanya
The proposed increase in value-added tax (VAT) has met quite a number of criticisms and the latest is from human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, who opined that the federal government was in violation of the law if the National Assembly has not passed a bill to that effect.
Mr Falana disclosed this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the nation’s capital, Abuja. He advised the federal government to propose a money bill to the parliament before implementation of the increase.
“It’s illegal, under a democratic dispensation. You cannot impose a tax or increase tax without a law made by the National Assembly or the State Assembly as the case may be,” the legal luminary said.
“In this case, it has to be realised that we are not under a military dictatorship,” he added.
Mr Falana said the upper chamber of the national assembly didn’t follow protocol by inviting the minister of finance to clarify the issue.
“The Senate erred in law by inviting them to come and clarify, the National Assembly has invited the Minister of Finance and the Federal Inland Revenue Services to come and clarify.
“By virtue of section 59 of the Nigerian Constitution, any increase, levy or tax will have to be presented to the National Assembly by way of money Bill by the President, it has to be passed into law,” the senior lawyer said.
He then called on the federal lawmakers to insist on passing a law before the proposed increase can be implemented.
Business Post reported that the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had announced that the federal executive council (FEC) approved an increase in VAT from 5 percent to 7.5 percent to take effect from 2020.
But Mr Falana said, “The Federal Executive Council has no power under the Constitution to increase VAT or any tax in the country.”
“No, the National Assembly must insist on its powers under Section 59 to pass a law to increase VAT or any tax, there can be no taxation without legislation,” he stressed.
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