NECA urges caution as FIRS implements stamp duty Act

Olusegun Oshinowo, NECA Director General.

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has cautioned the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against its planned enforcement of stamp duty.

The caution comes against the backdrop of unlawful increase in stamp duty collectible from 2kobo to N50, contrary to the FIRS Establishment Act. But economic watchers believe the increase may be on account of Naira devaluation and high exchange rate phenomenon.

Recall that the Federal Court of Appeal had in the matter between Kasmal International Services Limited and Access Bank and 23 others, directed all Deposit Money Banks (DMB) to discontinue the illegal charging of N50 per transaction in lieu of Stamp Duties. Despite calls by NECA and other well meaning Nigerians, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is yet to direct banks to obey the judgment of the Court.

Speaking in Lagos, the Director General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo, said; “the outright disobedience of court order by the CBN is not good for the country, especially as it sends a wrong signal to foreign investors and sets back the efforts of Government at promoting the rule of law,”

He added, ‘’the CBN is portraying itself to be bigger than the law of the land”

Speaking further, he averred that: “The OPS welcomes the take-over of collection of stamp duty by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is in line with extant law, i.e. the First Schedule to the FIRS (Establishment) Act except that the amount collectable is 2 kobo and not N50,”

But an official of FIRS, Wahab Gbadamosi, told The Guardian that the agency has been in the business of implementing the Act even before the renaissance by the current administration.

According to him, the agency has even unveiled an electronic solution for easy collection of the stamp duty, as part of efforts to improve the ease of doing business.

“FIRS won the 2016 African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Innovation awards. The award was presented at the just concluded ATAF Summit in South Africa for innovations undertaken between January 2015, and June 2016.

“The Integrated Stamp Duties Portal (ISDS), which earned FIRS the award was designed and implemented by FIRS. The web-based portal, which is a self-service tool, is used to calculate stamp duties payable based on figures inputted in the relevant fields,” he said.

He said the agency will continue to carryout its lawful duties, unless there is a pronouncement against it.

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