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The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami, has said the agency is generating N3 billion weekly from Stamp Duty collection by deposit money banks (DMBs).
Nami disclosed the figures to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance yesterday, during a meeting with the lawmakers to resolve the face-off between the FIRS and the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) over stamp duty collection, as well as developments over the N58 billion revenue generated from February 2016 to April 2020.
The session, which was chaired by the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, included the Post-Master General of the Federation, Dr. Ismail Adewusi; NIPOST Board Chairman, Barr. Maimuna Yaya Abubakar and top officials of the postal agency and FIRS.
According to Nami, FIRS was able to generate this much revenue from a single stream of stamp duty collection from banks because the service deployed a new technology to track and capture such revenue straight into the federation account.
The technology deployed by the FIRS is the Application Programming Interface (API) technology solution, an online real time technology that makes collection of Stamp Duty easier. Nami said when he assumed office in December 2019, the FIRS discovered over N30 billion in NIPOST’s Stamp Duty account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The account was opened in 2016 specifically to warehouse revenue from stamp duty collection
However, by April 2020, the balance in the account had grown to N58 billion because of the deployment of the API by the FIRS. Money in the stamp duty account by May 2020 was transferred to the federation account following instructions given to the CBN by the FIRS.
Nami said payment of stamp duties in Nigeria dated back to 94 years ago, stressing that stamp duty had always been part of the revenue schedule of tax authorities. He regretted that the differences in who controls stamp duty collection between NIPOST and FIRS had degenerated to public spat between the two agencies, describing the development as “unnecessary and unhelpful.”
According to him, “The FIRS regrets that as agency of government, FIRS and NIPOST allow a simple situation to degenerate to media exposure.” In his contribution, Adewusi 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 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 the Finance Act, it has not affected the responsibility of NIPOST. There is no fight between NIPOST and FIRS over tax collection,” he said.
He added that the responsibility of procuring stamp rested with NIPOST, adding that the agency was entitled to share in the cost of collection. “All the monies that ac- crued to the account include proceeds of stamp sales. In the spirit of peace, we want FIRS to look at the issue. We spend effort, we deserve in sharing cost of collection.
At the initial meeting, FIRS said they would give us 30 per cent and take 70 per cent, but we said no,” he said. Earlier in his opening remarks, Faleke said the committee was embarrassed by the open engagement of the two government agencies in addressing the issue.
“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,” Faleke said. He said having heard presentations by both sides; it would be unwise for the committee to take a hasty decision. FIRS and NIPOST have been engaging in media war over who should control stamp duty collection.