The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) on Sunday in Lagos called on the Federal Government to urgently make a pronouncement on the on-going controversy over VAT payment.

This, it said, would enable businesses to know what to do.

READ ALSOWike and VAT: Moving Nigeria closer to fiscal federalism [OPINION]

OPSN chairman, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, made the call at a news conference and said delays in addressing the issue could cause negative effect on businesses, most especially in the collection and remittances of VAT.

“We are aware that by Sept. 21 we get penalised if we do not pay or remit the VAT for the month of August.

“We are also aware that laws are not made in retrospect. It then means that even if those laws have been enacted, particularly the Lagos State law which came into effect in September, it will not affect the payment by businesses in the state.

“Due to our remittances, we have issues with the fact that the law for Rivers was made in August and majority of the businesses in Lagos usually will have relationship with the Rivers State Inland Revenue too.

“The confusion in the public space is the reason we are calling on the government to come to our aid as we want to pay.

“It is for the government at the centre to make a pronouncement as to what becomes of us,’’ he said.

Adeniyi, who is also the President, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), said that the on-going challenge had the potential to make businesses to pay double VAT in view of demands by the FIRS and state governments.

He said that businesses, as the collecting agents, were practically unclear on the authority to remit to and without a clear path, this would further aggravate the pain on businesses.

“It is a popular saying that where two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

“It is no longer news that Nigerian businesses have been battling with myriads of challenges, making survival of enterprises and ease of doing business in the country among the worst in this part of the world,’’ he said.

Recall  that there has been controversy over the collection of VAT after a Federal High Court ruled that it was not the duty of the Federal Government to collect the tax.

VAT is normally collected by the Federal Government since the military era and the money is shared by the three tiers of government.

Following the court ruling, however, Lagos and Rivers states passed laws that allowed them to collect VAT.

FIRS, which used to collect the VAT on behalf of the Federal Government, has challenged the court ruling at the appellate court.

OPSN comprises Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NECA, Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries and the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises. 

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