Published On: Thu, May 16th, 2019

CBN denies collecting N20trn stamp duties

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By Christiana Ekpa

Lawmakers and participants at the House of the Representatives investigative hearing into the alleged non remittances of N20trn Stamp Duty collections were yesterday dumb founded as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) denied collecting N20 trillion stamp duties.
This was even as the CBN disclosed that only a little above N35bn has so far been collected from the Nigerian banking public.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), represented by its acting director, Banking Services, Abubakar Kure disclosed this while presenting his submission to the House adhoc committee on the nonremittances of N20trn stamp from 2010 to date.
Kure, shocked the house when he said collection of Stamp Duties which stands at N35,240,916,338.54 and commenced
from February 3rd, 2016 to date and have not been remitted to the Federation Account on behalf of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
He said: “We Submitted bank statement from 2016 to date stating all the collection of stamp duties dated may 13th. Also submitted were details of bank-by-bank submission.
“Bank duties collected have not been remitted to the federation account as we haven’t received instructions from the account owners. And we’re also aware of a litigation pending at the supreme court preventing the movement of the funds into the federation account and once that’s dealt with and instruction from relevant agencies such as NIPOST to remit same.
Our correspondent reports that the Stamp Duty Act is the oldest law in Nigeria promulgated by the colonial masters in 1932 to enhance tax compliance and was only reviewed in 2004.
But the CBN has said it only started collecting stamp duties on bank transfers from Feb 3rd 2016.
And asked why it has continued to collect stamp duties if they’re not remitting, he said as bankers, “we’re not authorised to move funds to customers’ accounts if there’s no instruction to that effect”.
On the issue of collection, he said the CBN has also not received any instruction to stoyip collecting Stamp Duties, adding that if the supreme court ruling says the collected funds should be returned to those whose accounts were debited from, then the CBN in collaboration with relevant agencies and the deposit money banks will effect the directive.
It was at this juncture that he was asked how much has been collected so far as at today and whether it’s paying any interest on the funds it holds and how much has been paid from the time it has been holding the money?
Members also noted that there was no record of the collection in Jan 2016, with Mr Kure saying that there was a secular in 2016 asking banks to remit all charges collected from stamp duties and that commercial banks have complied as they wouldn’t have violated such a directive that would attract stiff penalties to them.
Asked to either corroborate or puncture the CBN’s claim, Oladele Agboola, Company Secretary and legal adviser to
Nigerian Inter Bank Settlement Systems plc (NIBSS, said “before 2016, no bank collected stamp duties from their customers because there was no legal basis to do so, neither was there instructions for any bank to charge stamp duty on any transfer made electronically”.
“However, NIBSS was engaged with the mandate to assist in weekly collation of stamp duty charges deducted from account holders in commercial banks from March, 2017 and has reported to the CBN to date and NIBSS doesn’t charge any fees for doing this.
“From March, 2017 to May 2019, NIBSS has collected the sum of N30,40,615,632.71 from commercial banks and remitted to CBN on weekly basis”, he said.
On the disparity between CBN’s figures and those of NIBSS, Agboola said the gap from February 2016 to March 2017 must have accounted for the differences in figures.
Declaring the hearing open earlier, the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara who was represented by the deputy chief whip, Palky Iriase said the hearing was called for to allow public participation in the investigation to facilitate fair hearing on the matter.
He noted that the CBN had upon the amendment to the Stamp Duty Act in 2004 directed deposit money banks to charge stamp duties on transactions above 500,0000 naira, “and since then, these charges which are meant to be remitted to the federal government coffers are alleged to have been kept away”.
He said the budget in 2018 performed at a mere 36 percent with report from financial watchdogs putting the Stamp Duties at around N20trn which has been said to be kept away from government.
He added that “the committee has been mandated therefore to ensure that everything about this stamp duties are unraveled.
“I also call on my colleagues to act with dispatch in carrying out this assignment in the promotion and preservation of our nation’s economy”, Dogara added.

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