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Constitution Review: CITN urges review of taxing powers

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The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has urged the National Assembly to revisit and review division of taxing powers of federating states in the ongoing 1999 Constitutional amendment process.

Dame Gladys Simplice, President of  CITN, made the proposal in a memoranda to the National Assembly during the South-West zonal public hearing on the 1999 Constitutional Review in Lagos on Wednesday.

According to her, taxing powers of the state appears to be illusive and speculative under the current constitution.

Simplice recommended a separate state legislative list as modeled by the 1995 draft constitution to enumerate subject that states could legislate on, and to set out basis for taxes impossible, administrable and collectable by state.

She also recommended that Item 59 of the Exclusive Legislative List (Taxation of Income, Capital Gains and Stamp Duties), Item 13 (Copyright) and Item 62 (Trade and Commerce and in particular sub-items a, b, d, e and f) should be altered.

According to her, Item 43 (patents, trademarks, trade or business names, industrial designs and merchandise marks) should also be altered.

Simplice said this should be in favour of the state and local government areas in terms of legislation, imposition and administration of incidental taxes on the subject.

“An exclusive use of value added of states and local government for the autonomous revenue is highly recommended.

“The current constitutional justification of Valued Added Tax Act under Section 315 of the Constitution to the effect that it has covered fields with respect to sales related tax is misgiving.

“It is recommended that VAT should be made into concurrent legislative list with a different formula to wit:

“The Federal Government should legislate and administer inter-state, wholesale and export stage VAT while states should register and administer intra-state and retail stage VAT,” she said.

According to her, either way, collections of these revenues should be independent of use by each state and Federal Government.

She added that the present condition of the constitution which lumped taxing powers with legislative powers, gave erroneous impression that states did not have specific powers to impose and administer taxes except by relying on imaginary residual list.

The president noted that there were certain items in the exclusive and concurrent legislative list that the federal government should not have business dealing with, adding that this rendered states and local governments mere parasitic appendages of the  federal government.

“Considering peculiar needs and development of state and local government which are closer to the people, there is practical need to evolve expansive tax and revenue net. This current configuration of the constitution do not encourage this reality.

” Widening taxing powers of the states will encourage high commitment of fiscal mobilisation and enhance healthy development competitions among the federating units,” she said.

Also, Simplice said the constitution should ensure independence of the Auditor General of the Federation so as to ensure accountability, transparency and credibility.

She added that this should also be amended to empower the auditor general to direct refund of any fund from any individual deemed not to have been spent for the purposes it was meant.

The CITN president said there was need for a clear demarcation of exclusive federal and state legislative list.

“This will guarantee powers of the states and allow them to function without much dependence on the federal government,” she said.

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Business & Economy

ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisation re-elects Dr. Ezra, as president

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Dr. Ezra Yakusak - MD/CEO NEPC
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Dr. Ezra Yakusak, the Executive Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), has been reelected as the President of ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) Network in Accra Ghana.

Dr. Yakusat, will serve another One-year tenure and will lead 15 other member ECOWAS countries in driving trade within the sub-region.

His re-election is also in line with Article 11 of the ECOWAS TPO Network. The ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organization is a network of all Trade Promotion Organizations in West Africa established by the decisions of Council of Ministers at the Ordinary Session.

Nigeria became the pioneer president in April 2021. Dr. Yakusat, became the president following the expiration of the tenure of Mr. Awolowo as ED/ CEO of NEPC.

A statement by the council said the re-election of Dr. Ezra was at the end of 2nd Annual General Meeting of the Network held at Alisa hotel, Accra, Ghana from 19th – 20th May, 2022.

He was re-elected along with the vice president, Mr. Ben Guy Mbangue from Cote’ D’ivoire.

The duo constitute the Executive Bureau of the Network and the tenure expires after one year. All members present unanimously re-elected the President and Vice President respectively.

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World Bank projects Nigeria’s Diaspora remittances to increase in 2022

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World Bank has projected Nigeria’s Diaspora remittance inflow to increase to $29bn in 2022 because of higher food prices and the continued adoption of official bank channels.

The bank said, migrants from the country are likely to send more money home to help with the hike in the prices of staples.

A report titled, ‘Migration and Development Brief (May 2022): A War in a Pandemic: Implications of the Ukraine crisis and COVID-19 on the global governance of migration and remittance flows,’ the bank stated that remittance flows to low and middle-income countries are expected to increase by 4.2 per cent to $630bn in 2022.

It said: “With risks weighted to the downside, there are several factors that support a view for continued—though more moderate—7.1 per cent gain inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.

“Momentum for the use of official channels in Nigeria should sustain an uptrend in the year, within flows reaching $21bn.

“Though economic activity is likely to ease in the United States and Europe, fundamentals remain positive for continued gains in remittance flows to the remainder of Africa, as the influence of ‘altruistic’ motivations that were demonstrated in Africa and South Asia during the peak pandemic years will likely carry over to the period of sharp increases in staple food prices.”

The global bank further said remittance inflow to Sub-Saharan Africa was $49bn in 2021, with Nigerian contributing $19.2bn to the total inflow, adding that the use of informal channels to transfer money to the region caused a 28 per cent reduction in inflows in 2020.

“In 2022, remittance inflows are projected to grow by 7.1 per cent driven by continued shift to the use of official channels in Nigeria and higher food prices – migrants will likely send more money to home countries that are now suffering extraordinary increases in prices of staples,” the bank said.

The World Bank stated that the Naira-4-Dollar policy, which was an attempt to return remittance to formal channels, of the Central Bank of Nigeria helped boost inflows by 11.2 per cent in 2021, adding that the stabilisation of the naira against the dollar within a range of 410-415 per dollar over the last year also contributed to the pickup in recorded inflows.

It noted that the increased stability of the Naira and increased use of the e-Naira would help boost the nation’s chances of achieving $21bn in remittance for 2022.

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Double trouble for Ahmed Idris: arrested by EFCC, suspended by Minister

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Ahmed Idris - Account General of the Federation
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The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has been directed to proceed on indefinite suspension over alleged laundering of N80 billion.

Idris, was suspended on Wednesday by Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

In a letter dated May 18, 2022, the minister said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.

Ahmed Idris, was on Monday arrested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). over alleged diversion and laundering of N80 billion.

Wilson Uwajaren, Head of Media and Public Information of the EFCC, stated that verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.

Uwujaren added that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja.

According to EFCC, Idris was arrested after he failed to honour invitations by the Commission to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.

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