NATIONAL Conference Delegate, Col. Tony Nyiam, (rtd), yesterday asked the Federal Government to hands off the collection of Value Added Tax, VAT, saying the government was reaping from where it did not sow.
The delegate, who deplored continued dependence on non-renewable resource like petroleum, said the government should make the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, the main sources of revenue for the country.
Contributing to the debate on the report of the Committee on Public Finance, Nyiam said that Federal Government’s collection of VAT amounted to “hijacking revenue” which it played no part in creating.
He noted that since VAT is consumption tax on goods, it should be collected by the states where the value was obtained or the consumption made because they bear the cost of infrastructure and other burdens arising from consumption of such goods.
He said: “The Federal Government needs to discontinue the bad example of not putting to practice, the virtues of the principles of fairness. The government needs also to discontinue its encouragement of sharing rather than baking as it were, the national cake.”
The delegate argued that some goods such as alcohol from which VAT was derived from had been banned in some states of the federation while the VAT collected on them were brought into the general pool to be distributed across board.
He said it would only be fair for those states where VAT was derived to collect and utilise such a tax.
He decried what he called “the over-dependence of the Nigerian economy on petroleum resources and advised that a deliberate attempt be made to diversify the economy to open up other sources of wealth.
Nyiam attributed the high level of corruption in the oil sector to conflict of interest, arguing that the Federal Government remained an “interested partner” in a strategic National business in which it was supposed to be a regulator.
He said one of the causes of corruption in the public service was the presence of incentives for public officers to steal public funds in their custody.
“One of the root causes of corruption in our public finance management system has been the incentive for embezzlement, which is being induced by our reliance on the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as the major means through which we source our revenue.”