By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday asked 15 commercial banks, including Guarantee Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Fidelity Bank and Diamond Bank to refund N 1.6 billion under remitted stamp duties into the federation account.
Also to make refunds are ECO Bank, Skye Bank, Jaiz Bank, Polaris Bank, Unity Bank, Keystone Bank, Providus Bank, Citi Bank, Standard IBTC and Standard Chartered Bank.
The House while considering the report of the Ad-hoc Committee that investigated the Non-Remittance of Trillions of Naira of Stamp Duties into the Federation Account at plenary ruled that all the Banks that had cases of delayed remittances should be penalized.
Abubakar Yunusa- Ahmad, Chairman of the Committee during presentation of the report revealed that First Bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank, Wema Bank and Suntrust Bank disregarded the Committee’s summons and neither sent any submission nor appeared at the public hearing and should be further investigated.
The report recommended that, “a machinery be put in place to allow recovery of under remittances after further reconciliation is carried out with the Banks concerned. All the Banks that had cases of delayed remittances should be penalized.
“In view of the apparent lack of transparency on the part of most Financial Institutions, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should strengthen its supervisory activity to ensure that Financial Institutions report and remit all Government revenues correctly and promptly.
“The CBN should also ensure that directives sent to Financial Institutions are followed to the latter.
All Banks that were found not to have made full disclosure on Stamp Duties collections and remittances should be further investigated.
“Financial Institutions especially the Debt Management Bureau (DMB) should remit all collections with respect to govermnent revenue promptly and correctly, and where remittances are not promptly done, the DMBs should be sanctioned.
“The relevant agencies should give maximum cooperation to the SBH to realize the goal of the assignment given to them, which is in the overall interest of the country.
“The SBH should intensify efforts to give accurate and timely information to the Federal Govemment in line with the Terms of its Appointment.
“While emphasis has been on Stamp Duty, pursuant to the CBN Circular of January 2016, other forms of Stamp Duty should be explored to increase the Revenue Base of various tiers of Govemment in accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004.
“The Terms of Reference of the Committee should be expanded to enable it look into other forms of Stamp Duties as noted in Recommendation above”.
Meanwhile, the House recommitted the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB 2019, the National Research and Innovation Council Bill 2019 and the Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to the Committee of the Whole for reconsideration and passage.
This is as the Green Chamber rescinded its decision on the affected clauses of the PIGB, clauses 2 and 7 of the National Research and Innovation Council Bill and clauses 8 and 88 of the Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill.
Edward Pwajok, Chairman Committee on Rules and Business explained that, “the the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB 2019, the National Research and Innovation Council Bill 2019 and the Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 were separately passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to the President for assent but were returned with some observations which need to addressed”.
According to him, the observations are germane for the smooth operations of the bills if eventually assented to, hence the need to recommit them for second passage.