By Henry Umoru
ABUJA— THE Senate has begun a probe into alleged N20 trillion unremitted stamp duties revenue in the last five years.
It also said over N7 trillion in stamp duties revenue from electronic cashless transactions had remained unpaid to the federation since 2015.
Consequently, the Senate, yesterday, mandated its Committees on Finance and Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to urgently carry out a holistic investigation into the matter and report back at plenary within eight weeks.
While hailing the tenacity and fortitude of the School of Banking Honours for bringing the issue of unremitted stamp duties revenue to public notice, and for insisting on probity of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System, the Senate, however, stressed the need for fair and equitable distribution of federal health facilities in all six geo-political zones of the country in response to several demands.
The resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion by Senator John Owan Enoh (APC, Cross River Central), entitled: “Urgent need to investigate allegations of Unremitted Stamp Duty Revenue running into trillions of naira.”
The motion was co-sponsored by Senators Umaru I. Kurfi (APC, Katsina Central); Bayero Usman Nafada (APC, Gombe North); Joshua Dariye Chibi (APC, Plateau Central); Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West) and Yahaya A. Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).
Others are Senators Yusuf A. Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central); Sani Mustapha (APC, Niger South); Nelson A. Effiong (APC, Akwa Ibom South); Mohammed Nakudu (APC, Jigawa South-West) and Adeola Solomon (APC, Lagos West).
In his presentation, Senator Enoh said: “The Senate notes that the Stamp Duty Act is one of the oldest and enduring laws in Nigeria since 1939, and that application of stamp duties has institutionally been a significant revenue earner for both federal and state governments since independence, thus accounting for almost a quarter of the taxation resources, annually;
“It is aware of the necessity to upgrade and reactivate the provisions of the Stamp Duty Act to include modern and efficient methods of taxation, it is imperative to ensure that the existing Stamp Duty Act is made to work for the federal and state governments;
“The Senate is perturbed by recent reports in the media that over N7 trillion in stamp duties revenue from electronic cashless transactions remain unpaid to the federation since 2015, and that the total volume of unremitted stamp duties fund is about N20 trillion.
“It is worried that the provision for stamp duty in the revenue framework of the nation’s annual budget for 2015, 2016 and 2017 has been N8.713b, N66.138b and 16.96b respectively despite the above reports; apprised of the anti-stamp duties collection stance of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS.
“It is currently being accused of systemic diversion of huge revenue flows from stamp duties collection on the electronic transfer receipt on online bank transactions, and the necessity to demand notice on all unremitted stamp duties.
“The Senate acknowledges the patriotic role of the School of Banking Honours, SBH, a body corporate approved through registration by the Nigerian Copyrights Commission to research into banking operations, facilitate collaboration between banks, and also ensure collaboration between banks and the Government, and to represent the government in facilitating the imposition and monitoring of stamp duty on all electronic cash transactions;
“It is informed that the Central Bank of Nigeria declared in 2013 that stamp duties revenue accruals from five states only were over N160 billion.
“The Senate is convinced of the duties and responsibilities of the National Assembly to ensure the harnessing of all sources of revenue to the government of the federation, and to curb all forms of wastefulness, corruption and diversion of funds belonging to the federation.