Wike signs open grazing prohibition, VAT collection bills, others into law
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, signed the Open Grazing Prohibition, Value Added Tax (VAT) collection and other bills into law.
In a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, the governor maintained that the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt had addressed the illegality being perpetrated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on behalf of the Federal Government in the collection of VAT in states.
Wike stated this at the Government House, Port Harcourt, shortly after signing the Valued Added Tax Law 2021, the Open Rearing and Grazing Prohibition Law 2021, the Child’s Rights Amendment Law 2021, Residents Registration Agency Law 2021 and the Naming and Renaming of Infrastructure Law 2021.
The state House of Assembly recently passed the bills and sent them to the governor for his assent. Wike pointed out that when Federal Government agencies are allowed to collect taxes meant for states, they strangulate the states financially and turn them into beggars.
He stressed that no campaign of calumny or blackmail on the part of FIRS would make illegality to become legal and dismissed its propaganda that 30 states would suffer if some states were allowed to collect VAT.
Speaking further, Wike said FIRS was already planning to introduce road tax, adding that when finally introduced it would take away more duties from the states and further emasculate them financially.
He argued that states have been emasculated to the extent that they could barely survive without monthly revenue from Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).
Wike stressed that Federal Government’s overbearing attitude, was hindering financial autonomy for the legislature and the judiciary, since the states were not allowed to collect revenues as specified in the country’s constitution.
The governor pointed out that having signed the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would be unbundled, which meant that the corporation’s remittance to the federation account would reduce, a development he said, would require states to explore alternatives to survive.
While commending the lawmakers for the speedy passage of the bills, Wike assured that the state government would maximise all areas, which the law allows the state to collect revenues.
Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, described the collection of VAT by FIRS as the worst retrogressive tax regime anywhere in the world.
He commended the governor and the state government for challenging the constitutionality of FIRS’ collection of VAT in states, adding that the signing of the VAT law would ensure better life for Rivers people.