N43b stamp duty cash with CBN, says Fed Govt

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Forty three billion naira collected as Stamp Duties on domestic transactions by Nigerians is being kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said on Wednesday.

The minister, who briefed reporters after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, said her Ministry sought approval for a project to manage duties waivers through an electronic portal.

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On Tuesday, the Senate mandated its Committee on Finance to investigate why the N20 trillion collected by banks and other financial institutions as stamp duty revenue from 2013 to 2016 was not remitted to the Federation Account.

But, Mrs. Ahmed, in the company of the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, spoke of the stamp duty revenue.

She explained that the Stamp Duties collected by commercial banks had to be warehoused at the CBN due to the legal battle over the custody of the fund between the Nigerian Postal Service (NPS) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The minister, however, noted that the Finance Act recently passed by the National Assembly has rested the argument over who should be the custodian of the fund.

According to her, the amended Act has given the right to the FIRS.

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Mrs. Ahmed said: “The stamp duties, up till now, have been a subject of litigation between the Nigerian Postal Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service. So, while the banks when you make any transfer charge you N50, these revenues were not accruing to government.

“I don’t have the facts that there will some funds being held by the commercial banks as well. The CBN has itself said that they are in holding of about N43 billion now, but in the new Finance Act recently passed by the two houses of the National Assembly, there is an amendment that is made to the Stamp Duties Act that relates to the mode of collection.

“The Finance Bill has made the FIRS as the collecting agency. So, that addresses the issue of the litigation. So, going forward, the revenue should be remitted as they are being collected, unlike what has happened in the past that the funds were kept in a special account because of the litigation that is going on.”

On the approval sought for the project, which is designed to manage an automated platform for the issuance of import duties exemption certificates as well as vehicle identification and registration number, the minister said the project would be run as a public/private partnership.

The minister said: “The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is responsible for the country’s national finance and one of our responsibilities is implementing fiscal incentives that are used to attract investors to promote non-oil exports as well as encourage industrialisation programme and stimulate growth in the economy.

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“This portal will be managed by both the ministry as well as the Nigeria Custom Service. The vehicle identification number will be available to any user to access to find out information on vehicles.

“On our part, on the IDEC component, we will be able to see how much waivers have been granted to which sectors and also track the performers of those waivers and reduce the cost subsequently.

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