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Senators kick as Finance Act scales second reading

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Some senators yesterday raised concerns that details of the Bill for an Act to amend the Finance Act, 2019 were not made available to them for their input as the upper legislative chamber passed it for second reading.

The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said he had seen the sort clarification on the piece of legislation.

He, however, suggested they should see the clarification before the third reading so that they might know what they are contributing.

Senator James Manager, on his part, expressed worry that the bill was recently passed on the floor of the Senate, adding that, “if clarification is what the bill sort, I urge colleagues to support it.”

Supporting the move, Senator Solomon Olamilekan noted that there were food items exempted from the bill.

Shortly before the debate, the chamber suspended Order 79, with the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi explaining that the action was to fast-track the approval of the bill.

The document titled, “a Bill for an Act to amend the Finance Act, 2019 and other relevant tax statutes to provide clarifications regarding the tax incentives for agricultural production, the administrative effective date for the commencement of the increase in Value Added Tax to 7.5% and certain basic items exempt from Value Added Tax and for other connected matters, 2020”, was sponsored by Senator Abdullahi (Kebbi North).

President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter to the Senate on Tuesday requested for the amendment of the Act.

The law, which was passed by the upper legislative chamber on November 21, 2019, received presidential assent on January 13, 2020.

The executive bill, accompanied with a formal letter dated March 6, 2020, was read during plenary presided over by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

Buhari, in his letter, had explained that the request for amendment was aimed at clarifying the administrative date for the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5 per cent effective February 1, 2020.

The president also sought the exemption of “animal feeds from taxable food items so as to create incentives for small businesses involved in livestock, fishing and primary crop production in Nigeria.”

Before the bill was passed for second reading and referred to the Committee on Finance for return in one week, Lawan stated that the piece of law had no issue, asserting: “We have something to celebrate as the bill was passed and assented last year.”

In his concluding remark, he lauded the executive arm of government for its cooperation with the National Assembly on issues of legislation.


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