FEC okays new finance bill, rules out increase in taxes
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, approved the Finance Bill 2020 aimed at reviewing the country’s tax laws and supporting the 2021 budget.
Addressing reporters after the weekly meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the piece of legislation would be speedily transmitted to the National Assembly for legislative action.
She, however, assured Nigerians that its passage would not lead to increase in taxes nationwide.
The minister explained that government’s intention was to improve tax laws and review taxation that negatively affects critical businesses, especially small and medium enterprises.
Ahmed pointed out that some taxes had been reviewed downward, adding: “In the last Finance Bill 2019, we reduced taxes from 30 to 20 per cent for enterprises that have turnover of between N25 and N100 million.”
She restated that the situation in the country does not warrant more taxation and overburdening of the people, asserting: “This is not the time to increase taxes.”
The minister explained that the bill seeks to make “incremental changes to tax laws relating to customs and excise, as well as other fiscal regulations to support implementation of the annual budget.”
She continued: “When Mr. President presented the 2021 budget to the parliament, he did direct that the 2020 Finance Bill will also follow to support the budget proposals.
“We are working on implementing current fiscal reforms in line with the Multi-year Medium Term Framework and over time, we hope that with this Finance Bill, the fiscal space will be reformed on an incremental basis.
“So this Finance Bill for 2020 was developed as a result of a very large multi-stakeholder effort under the Fiscal Policy Reform Committee that has several ministries, departments and agencies and even the private sector as members.
“In producing this bill, what we were inadvertently doing was amending provisions of 13 different taxes which include the Capital Gains Tax Act, Companies Income Tax Act (CITA), Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (IIDITRA), Personal Income Tax Act (PITA), Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act, Customs & Excise Tariff (Consolidation) Act, Value Added Tax Act (VATA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act, Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Public Procurement Act.”
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, also briefed newsmen on what his ministry is doing about the recent outbreak of strange diseases, he described as Yellow Fever, that killed a number of Nigerians.
His Works and Housing counterpart, Babatunde Fashola, said he equally addressed the gathering on progress of work at the various federal secretariats across Gombe, Benue and Ekiti states besides matters relating to the national housing programme.