By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Senate yesterday accepted the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as the genuine and legal government agency on which the Constitution rightfully saddled the controversy to collect the duties on official government stamps, as against the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), which had been claiming the responsibilities.
Making its submission to convince the Senate yesterday, the FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhamnad Nami, who sooke on right of collection of the stamp duties and the N500 billion projected as revenue for 2021 budget as against N1.5trillion, said there are two types of Stamp duties which are electronically generated one and the adhesive ones as stated in section 5(2) of the Stamp Duty Act.
Recall that right of ownership of stamp duties collection between FIRS and NIPOST and the issue of two separate stamp duties, came up during an interactive session between the senate joint committee and FIRS officials on the agency’s revenues projections for 2021 as contained in the 2021- 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
Speaking further, the FIRS boss explained that postage stamp is different from stamp duties payments which, he said, according to relevant laws in the Constitution, can be made to FIRS or IRS.
According to him, though lacunas in the stamp duties Act, urgently needed to be addressed, but right of collection for the electronic related ones has been legally given to FIRS by the National Assembly through the Finance Bill passed last year and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Besides, stamp Duties are more of tax collections which the FIRS is constitutionally empowered by relevant provisions to carry out”, he said.
However, the Senate joint committee on Finance and National Planning kicked against the agency’s projection of N500billion as expected revenues from the duties collection in 2021 budget, as against N1.5trillion.
The lawmakers insisted that based on model already put in place by FIRS for such collection of stamp duties, the agency can generate N3.06trillion, or if it utilised up to 65% of it, rake in N2.9trillion or at worst, if 50% of the available parameters are utilised, N1.5trillion.
According to senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue East), he said the N500 billion projected as revenue from stamp duties by FIRS in the 2021 budget is too meagre and inimical to practicability of the projected N12.6trillion 2021 budget.
“The deficit in the projected budget is N5.1trillion, requiring aggressive revenue generation internally by agencies like FIRS, in making the budget implementable”, he said.