The House of Representatives has waded into the dispute between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) over the collection of stamp duty in the country.
FIRS and NIPOST appeared before the House Committee on Finance on Tuesday.
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The sitting was chaired by the Committee chairman, James Abiodun Faleke (APC, Lagos), which was attended by the Post- Master General of the Federation, Dr. Ismail Adebanjo Adewusi; NIPOST board Chairman, Barr. Maimuna Yaya Abubakar and other top officials of the postal agency and FIRS officials.
Speaking in an opening remarks, Faleke said the open engagement and disagreements between the two government agencies over the stamp duty issue was embarrassing and a cause for concern.
“As a committee responsible for overseeing finance agencies, we decided to call for this dialogue to see if the agencies are doing the bidding of the law,” he said.
The sitting was held to resolve the face-off between the FIRS and NIPOST and determine the status of the N58 billion revenue generated from February 2016 to April, 2020.
The two agencies have taken the fight to social media as they engaged each other over rights to collect stamp duties.
‘We generated N3 billion in a week’
In his submission, the Chairman, FIRS, Muhammed Nami, disclosed that they have been generating N3 billion from stamp duty collection weekly from May 2020 to date through Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).
Nami said the FIRS generated the amount from a single stream of stamp duty as a result of deployment of Application Programming Interface (API) technology solution, an online real time technology that makes collection of stamp duties easier.
The FIRS chairman said the FIRS discovered over N30 billion in the NIPOST stamp duty account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) when he assumed office in December 2019.
According to him, the account was opened in 2016 specifically to warehouse revenue from stamp duty collection.
He, however, disclosed that the balance in the account had grown to N58 billion by April 2020, because of the deployment of the API by the FIRS.
He said the Money in the stamp duty account by May 2020 was transferred to the federation account following instructions given to the CBN by the FIRS, adding that, since then, the FIRS and the NIPOST have been at daggers drawn over the control of stamp duty collection and the money realised from the collection.
He regretted that the issue had degenerated to a public spat between the two agencies, describing the development as “unnecessary and unhelpful”.
“The FIRS regrets that as agency of the government, FIRS and NIPOST allow a simple situation to degenerate to media exposure,” Nami stated.
In his submission, Postmaster General/Chief Executive Officer of NIPOST described the feud between FIRS and his agency as needless.
“As prelude, it’s important to make this remark.
“NIPOST is not a tax collecting agency.
“We are not in the business of collecting taxes, that’s not our mandate.
“But our role in stamp duty is clearly stated in the law.
“The issue is, the Finance Act, 2019 did not in any way stop NIPOST from its mandate.
“In spite of amendment to finance Act, it has not affected the responsibility of NIPOST.
“There is no fight between NIPOST and FIRS over tax collection,” he said.
The Post Master General insisted that the responsibility of procuring stamp rests with NIPOST.
He appealed that the agency is entitled to its share of the stamp duty proceeds it collected and domiciled in the CBN from 2016 to 2020.
“All the monies that accrued to the account include proceeds of stamp sales.
“In the spirit of peace, we want FIRS to look at the issue.
“We deserve in sharing cost of collection.
“At the initial meeting, FIRS said they will give us 30 percent and take 70 percent, we said ‘no’,” he added.
Speaking after the presentations, Chairman of the Committee said the committee will examine all that had been submitted to the committee.
“We will go back, look at all legal issues raised and reconvene,” he said.
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