By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Finance Act amendment bill transmitted to the National Assembly on Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari for consideration and passage scaled second reading on the floor during plenary on Wednesday.
The bill which was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya (APC – Kebbi North) was referred by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Finance.
The lawmaker, in his lead debate, explained that the bill which was recently passed by the National Assembly seeks to, among other things, amend certain tax provision of the Finance Act 2019 and other relevant tax statues to make them more responsive to the tax reform policies of the Federal Government, to enhance their implementation and effectiveness.
According to Abdullahi, the amendment to the Act includes: “amending Section 23 of the Companies Income Tax Act pursuant to Section 9 of the Finance Act, 2019 to make certain clarifications regarding the newly introduced tax incentives for Agricultural production, which for administrative convenience may be better provided for under the Industrial Development (Income tax relief) Act.
“To provide clarifications regarding the administrative effective dates for the commencement of the increase in Value Added Tax from 5 percent to 7.5 percent; provide clarity regarding the definition of basic food items exempted from Value Added Tax; and amend sections 1 and 25 of the Industrial Development Act to make certain clarifications regarding the newly introduced tax incentives for Agricultural production.”
In his concluding remark, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, lauded the Executive arm of government for its cooperation with the National Assembly on issues of legislation.
“We passed this bill sometime in November last year, and the President signed it. Just like our Distinguished Senator said that he is worried that they have not even operated and they are seeking for amendment.
“I think we have something to celebrate here, that instead of either not signing or assenting to the bill that we worked on, or implementing it without recourse to exactly what the law will be dictating, I think that would have been our cause for worry.
“But the fact that it was assented to, and even when they discovered that there were loopholes that we needed to clarify with the bill or the Act to take effect from February 1, and I believe there were some definitions, especially what happens in the case of Animal Feeds and so on, and they felt to still come back to the legislature, I think is something that we should celebrate,” Lawan said.
The Finance Committee, which is chaired by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC – Lagos West), is expected to submit its report on the Finance Act 2019 amendment bill for passage in one week.
Similarly, ten other bills scaled second reading during plenary on Wednesday.
They are: A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provision for the Financial Autonomy of Local Government Councils, sponsored by Senator Baba Kaita Ahmad (APC – Katsina North); A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution to provide for the amendment of Section 54(1) and Section 96(1), sponsored by Senator Istifanus Gyang (PDP – Plateau North); and a bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution to give Local Government Council direct control of their finances, by Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP – Anambra Central).
Others are: A bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to provide for an upward review of the Derivation Formula for the inclusion of Solid Minerals and Hydro Power in the Derivation principle, by Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC – Ekiti North); A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution to make Right to Food and Food Security in Nigeria, by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC – Nasarawa West); A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution 1999, to provide for the regulation of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Court it Appeal, by Senator Surajudeen Akinola Basira (APC – Osun Central).
Also scaling second reading are: A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution 1999, to provide immunity for members of the legislature in respect of words spoke or written at Plenary Sessions or Committee proceedings and institutionalize legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution, sponsored by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central).
A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution to preclude the Federal Hight Court from entertaining Pre-election disputes emanating rom Congress, Conferences, Conventions or other meetings convened by political parties for the purpose of electing members of its Executive Committees of other governing bodies (318, 319 and 320), sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC – Delta Central), also passed second reading.
The ten bills to alter the provisions of the Constitution were referred by President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Constitution Review, chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.