Monday, 11th December 2023

Experts suggest tax reforms to rejig Nigeria’s economy

By Joseph Onyekwere
22 August 2023   |   3:05 am
The Federal Government has been advised to focus on taxation of consumption rather than production to enable the Nigerian economy to develop and check inflation. The admonition was given by panelists at the DETAIL SOLICITORS Tax Business Series on the theme, “Finance Act 2023: Implications on the Tax & Fiscal Outlook for the new administration…

Mr. Ajibola Olomola, Partner, Head Deal Advisory, M&A, Tax, KPMG Nigeria (left); Ms. Esiri Agbeyi, Partner, PWC Africa & Family Business Leader; and Anthony Ezeamama, Associate Partner, Detail Commercial Solicitors, at the Detail Tax Business Series in Lagos.

The Federal Government has been advised to focus on taxation of consumption rather than production to enable the Nigerian economy to develop and check inflation.

The admonition was given by panelists at the DETAIL SOLICITORS Tax Business Series on the theme, “Finance Act 2023: Implications on the Tax & Fiscal Outlook for the new administration and the Economy.”

This is coming as Nigeria’s economy currently operates at a deficit of over N10 trillion due to lower income generation with debt servicing and recurrent expenditures taking a huge chunk of the yearly budget.

The DETAIL Tax Business Series panel session was moderated by Anthony Ezeamama, Associate Partner at Detail Commercial Solicitors, and featured Esiri Agbeyi, Partner PwC Africa & Family Business Leader, and Ajibola Olomola, Partner and Head Deal Advisory, M&A, Tax, KPMG Nigeria.

With business owners lamenting how multiple taxation is crippling their businesses that are already grappling with issues of infrastructural decay, insecurity, epileptic power supply and foreign exchange shortage, the panelists urged the Federal Government and tax authorities to reduce or consolidate the existing tax laws as a way of tackling the issue of multiple taxation.

One other way of tackling the issue as well as easing the process of tax payment, they said, is for the tax authorities to explore the advantages of a single tax collection agency for the Federation and the States, respectively. This, according to them, has been successfully implemented in Kaduna State.

They stressed the need to increase the number of individuals and citizens in the tax net rather than increasing the tax rate. To do this, tax authorities should focus on taxation of persons in the informal sector and unregistered businesses, and there should also be greater collaboration amongst the authorities, they said.

At the same time, the panelists said there was a need for re-orientation of citizens, even at the family level, to encourage tax payment.

On the Finance Act 2023, the experts said it has introduced roll-over relief on disposal of shares under the Capital Gains Tax Act.

They mentioned that one of the objectives of the Finance Act 2023 is climate change/green growth, and Nigeria has the goal to go green by 2060.

They further said future Finance Acts should be tailored towards enabling fiscal measures that align with the AfCFTA’s goal of encouraging trade in Africa.

Before now, the definition of “buildings” under the Value Added Tax Act (VAT Act) included “towers” or “masts” for network operators, but the experts said this has been amended such that VAT will now apply on transactions relating to towers or masts.

In terms of policy directives, the panelists said the success of the Road Infrastructure Investment Tax Credit Scheme’s model could be replicated in other important sectors of the economy.

They also called on the Federal Government to clarify the policy framework on cryptocurrency to enable it to benefit from the billions of US dollars cryptocurrency transactions undertaken by Nigerians on a regular basis.

Ebonyi gov poll: Tribunal reserves judgment on PDP, APGA’s petitions
From Ameh Ochojla, Abuja

The Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has reserved judgment on petitions seeking to nullify the outcome of the gubernatorial poll held in the state on March 18.

The petitions were filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Chief Ifeanyi Odii, as well as the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) and its own candidate, Prof. Benard Odoh.

The petitioners are praying the court to void the declaration of Governor Francis Nwifuru of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the governorship contest.

Justice A.I. Ogunmoye-led three-member panel adjourned on Friday to deliver judgment on the petitions, after all the parties, through their team of lawyers, adopted their final briefs of argument.

While adopting their process, PDP and its candidate, Odii, through their team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche (SAN), maintained that governor Nwifuru did not secure the majority of lawful votes that were cast during the election.

The petitioners told the tribunal that Nwifuru’s election victory was characterised by corrupt practices, alleging that there was substantial non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.

Besides, they argued that Nwifuru did not validly resign from the PDP before he was nominated as the governorship candidate of the APC.

According to the petitioners, Nwifuru, being a PDP member at all material times before the governorship poll, was not eligible under section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, to have been sponsored by the APC to contest as its flag-bearer.

They told the tribunal that prior to the governorship contest, Nwifuru, who was elected into the Ebonyi State House of Assembly in 1999, served as Speaker while on the ticket of the PDP, until May 2023.

Consequently, PDP and its candidate, in their joint petition, prayed the tribunal to declare that they were the valid winners of the governorship election.

They prayed the court to withdraw the Certificate of Return that was issued to governor Nwifuru by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

More so, the petitioners cited a subsisting judgment of a High Court in Ebonyi state, delivered by Justice Henry Njoku, which they said held that Nwifuru and other lawmakers in the state that purportedly defected to the APC, were still members of the PDP.

On their part, APGA and its candidate, Odoh, prayed the tribunal to nullify the election and order a fresh one.

While adopting their final written address, the petitioners, through their own team of lawyers led by Mr. Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), argued that governor Nwifuru was not qualified to contest the governorship poll, insisting that he did not validly resign his PDP membership.

“The summary of the petitioners’ petition is that the 2nd respondent who was until and after the election, a member of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly and also occupied the office of the Speaker of the said house under the platform of PDP was not qualified to contest the election to the seat of Governor of Ebonyi State conducted by the 1st respondent on March 18, 2023, wherein the 2nd respondent was wrongfully returned elected.

“Firstly, it is a settled position of law firmly rooted in the Constitution of Nigeria, that a person aspiring to contest the election for the office of governor in a Nigerian State must fulfill the dual prerequisites of political party membership and sponsorship.

“This provision is unequivocally captured in Section 177 (c) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, where it is provided as follows; ‘A person shall be qualified for the election to the office of Governor of a state if (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party.’

“On the whole, it is submitted that the petitioners have made out a case for the relief seeking the order of the Tribunal for a fresh election, excluding the 2nd respondent whom a valid case has been made out for his disqualification.

“The relief for a fresh election is predicated on the fact that upon the disqualification of the 2nd respondent, none of the remaining candidates would have satisfied the Constitutional requirement of being declared Governor of Ebonyi State, having regard to the result declared in Exhibit P1 and P8. Section 179 (2) of the 1999 Constitution,” APGA and its candidate prayed.

Meanwhile, governor Nwifuru, through his team of lawyers led by Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), urged the tribunal to dismiss all the petitions.

He insisted that he was validly elected, adding that the judgment that declared him as a member of the PDP had since been voided.

Governor Nwifuru argued that he duly resigned from the PDP and joined the APC, in compliance with provisions of the law.

Likewise, the APC, through its lawyer, Mr. A. A. Ibrahim (SAN) urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitions for want of merit, adding that the petitioners failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

“The issue of membership of a political party cannot be questioned because parties know their members,” Ibrahim, stressed.
After listening to all the arguments, the tribunal said it would communicate the judgment date to the parties.