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New tax regime, tariff policy out Jan – Finance Minister

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
ABUJA—The Federal Government will in January introduce a new tax regime, tarrif  and other fiscal policy measures.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Mansur Muhtar, said this in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, in Abuja.

According to him: “by early January, we are going to unveil the tax policy that we have been working on. There are a number of tax  reform bills that are also going to the National Assembly.

“We are looking at the framework itself, the legal framework, lots of improvement are expected, and we have the outstanding tax reform bills that have been concluded and submitted to the National Assembly expeditiously.

“Then, we will expect the adoption of the tax policy by early next year. It has been finalised and I think it has been submitted to the Federal Executive Council, but we would not be able to consider it until January.

“There have been major efforts to strengthen the administration and improve efficiency in tax collection. There is a lot of automation going on in the Federal Inland Revenue Service. Also, associated with that is simplification. It is a combination – simplification of the tax system and broadening of the tax base, and ensuring that we put in place measures that will secure a greater level of compliance.

“The Tax Identification Number, TIN, that has been introduced and the universal tax identity number are some of such efforts. There is a lot of automation that allows FIRS to be on top of these things and to be able to monitor and track returns.

Waivers, incentives  for specific sectors

“There have been issues about the way the waivers and incentives were being granted and they were suspended. They are now limited specifically to areas where there have been an existing government policy, for example, the oil sector, health and education sectors where it involves government or donor-agencies, and such other areas of priority.

“In the past, the problem was that this was being used in a discretionary manner, and we want to lay down rules, procedures and guidelines.

“Already, they are extremely limited to these specific strategic sectors that have been identified, and that requires very stringent control.

”There have been proposals in relation to following the report of the Udo-Udoma Committee and this has been finalised. It would have been submitted to the Federal Executive Council for its endorsement.

“The whole idea is to try to see how one dovetails into each other. Nonetheless, we are going ahead with all these initiatives,” Muhtar stressed.

The minister noted that, “The Tariff and Incentives Committee, again, stems from the concern to really ensure that we give adequate incentives and that the tariffs applied are not done in a manner that impinges on the ability of our manufacturing sector to thrive.

Moves to grow manufacturing sector

” In that context, of course, we have to balance trade with the existing commitments we have under the trade treaties. We are looking for the leeway within this framework to really stimulate or spur growth of Nigeria’s manufacturing sector.

“It is in the process of identifying key sectors with growth potentials that could be promoted and supported. We hope that by the beginning of the year, as part of the 2010 budget, the fiscal policy measures that go along with that will include these policy measures.

Driving the economy

“The prohibited list, really, relates to the fiscal policy issues. There were some delays in getting this committee to finalise its work or to even get started.

Ideally, this should have been packaged in the presentation, but to the extent that we are looking at the budget itself, the numbers, in terms of the spending plans, we feel that in this scope going on with the work of the fiscal side in terms of the fiscal policy, we just needed to drive the economy forward,” he said.


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