By; Patrick Titus, Uyo.
The Federal Government has again been urged to deposit all recovered funds into the Consolidated Revenue Accounts as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. Onofiok Luke who stated this in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital said the recovered looted money should in turn be shared among all tiers of the government in the country.
Luke who spoke during the opening of public hearing on the Revenue Administration Bill 2015 organised by the State’s House of Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Finance on Tuesday, also opined that doing contrary would speak negative of the anti-crafts war of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Commenting on the significance of the public hearing organized by the House Committee on Appropriations and Finance, the Speaker said the aim was to enable the Assembly to collect and access possible contributions from stakeholders and members of the public as the House was sets to give legislative backing to revenue collection and administration in the state.
The inputs according to him shall form part of the decision on the establishment of administrative structures for internally generated revenue (IGR) in Akwa Ibom both at the state and local government levels.
“The aim of our open system policy as a House has been to ensure that members of the public make contributions which will help shape our collective decisions on certain critical legislative issues”, Luke said.
He lauded the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel for taking practical steps towards structuring the state economy for an increase in internally generated revenue, saying the House was committed to supporting the efforts in all ways possible to ensure success.
The 2015 Bill sponsored by the executive is to make for the administration and collection of revenue due to the government of Akwa Ibom State and local government councils and to establish the relevant administrative structures and other matters connected therewith.
In her contributions to the bill, the Uyo Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (UYOCCIMA), urged that the bill should spell out the types of taxes/levies which should be collected by the revenue collectors.
Decrying the negative effect of multiple levies/taxation on the growth of businesses in the state, UYOCIMMA President, Obonawan Imo Isemin said, “Apart from making life miserable for the petty traders and other small operators, they add to the cost of doing business which already is very expensive as a result of several other unfavourable economic variables both organic and exogenous.
“Every law should have the citizen at heart, multiple levies/taxation kill businesses, crude methods, e.g seizing a poor man’s tricycle (Keke) or overturning the table of a fruit seller; rather than helping, is more detrimental to revenue authorities”, she added.
She also canvassed that the immunity clause which allowed room for crude and unethical method as employed by the touts who veiled themselves as revenue collectors as currently being witnessed in the state should be expunged or redrafted in the bill to accommodate genuine issues of abuse by individuals or revenue agents.
Also in her memorandum, Policy Alert, a state-based non-government human rights organization suggested that use of agents, tax consultants etc to collect taxes should be outlawed in the bill in order to reduce tax burdens on the poorest tax payers, especially women and informal sector operators.
Represented by Head of Programmes, Tijah Bolton-Akpan, the group also advocated that the definition of revenue collector should be restricted to bona fide staff of Internally Revenue Services in the state to avoid room for abuse as currently experienced in the system.
The public hearing which attracted memoranda from various corporate bodies both private and public across the state took place at the Assembly Complex in Uyo.