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ASUU Urges FG To Stop Tax Waivers, as Reps Summon First Bank, Others over Non Remittances of Education Tax

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By Gloria Ikibah 
 
 
 
This President Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Victor Osodeke has called on the federal government to immediately stop tax waivers meant to fund tertiary institutions in the country.
 
 
Prof. Osodeke who said this during a public hearing on Monitoring of Collection, utilization and other associated services relating to Education Tax from 2011 – 2022, organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), on Tuesday, blamed the poor funding of tertiary institutions and incessant industrial actions to waivers granted to banks and other private institutions.
 
 
Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Miriam Odinaka Onuoha also directed First Bank of Nigeria and other Banks to appear before it alongside its Tax Consultant to reconcile the Education Tax Computation not remitted to TETFund by the banks between 2011 and 2022.

 

 
 
Rep. Onuoha who gave the directive when some commercial banks appeared before the committee to defend their non-remittance of Education Taxes over the years, said there were disparities between the figures that was in the Bank’s Financial Statements as Provisions for that purpose and what the Bank actually remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
 
 
Upon their admittances of such discrepancies, without any substantial explanation, the Committee therefore summoned the Banks to come along with details of their Tax computations, External Auditors and Tax Consultant along with proofs of remittances by 20th June, 2024. 
 
 
‘The Banks disregarded their own Financial Statement liabilities on Education Tax and made  under remittances’.
 
This followed a motion by Rep. Oluwole Oke who prayed that the banks appeared before the committee with the tax consultants with details of that tax computation on a yearly basis.
 
 
The Chairman said out of the 15 banks invited, about seven were supposed to appear before the committee on Tuesday, while only three of them showed up with three other writing to seek a new date to appear.
 
 
Full list of Banks summoned to appear on the 20th June with the aforementioned documents and persons include, Zenith Bank, Access Bank,  First Bank, United Bank for Africa ( UBA), Sterling Bank, Keystone Bank, FBN Quest Merchant Bank, First Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, Stanbic Bank , Wema Bank, Eco Bank, Fidelity Bank, Jaiz Bank and Unity Bank. 
 
 
Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Bappa Aliyu Misau had observed that First Bank under remitted its education tax deductions to TETFund, an action which he said was punishable under the law.
 
 
Misau said: “unfortunately, you do not have the year-by-year breakdown but  the available records you submitted in 2011 was N603,801. Then, in 2012, you are owing N301,263,135, in 2013, you have a credit balance of N102,713,615. 
 
 
“Again, in 2014, you had a credit of N2.933, 659, then if you go to 2015, you have N25 million as outstanding, in 2017, N169, 852,600 outstanding, in 2018 you have N98 million outstanding, in 2012, you paid N7.877,451 then in 2020 N148 million credit, in 2021, N269,618,626.6 debit. 
 
 
“Therefore, in 2022, you had N3.748,984, 654.64. Then you add it up, you sum the credit and the debit, you ended up with N3.749,353,260 outstanding. You know there is penalty for Non-Remittance”.
 
 
An Executive Director with First Bank, Bashir Yusuf who represented the bank at the meeting told the lawmakers that between 2011 and 2022, the Bank posted a Profit Before Tax (PBT) of N795,123 billion. 
 
 
When asked to take the figure year by year, the FBN Executive Director said, it was a summary of the presentation, he said, “unfortunately Madam Chair what I have is the summary of the presentation. 
 
 
 
“I crave the indulgence of the committee to take what we shared with the Committee. I prepared the summary for the presentation, so that if there are issues, we can take those issues, especially if there are matters that we need to settle outside the Committee room, our consultants.
 
 
“So, I am very sorry, I don’t have the breakdown by year, but I have the summary over the period. We had the net accessible profits of N28 billion, which is the difference between the allowable and the disallowable expenses on the PBT we posted over the period.
 
 
“In terms of tax liability over the period, we have a tax liability of N5.498 billion. Then, over the periods of the audit by the Committee, that is 2011 to 2022, we had additional assessments. It was on the basis of those assessments conducted between 2014 and 2021 that we had an additional liability of N852 million.
 
 
“So, in terms of total TETFUND Tertiary Education Tax Fund liability and payment, we made a payment of N5.493 billion. 
 
 
 
“And in terms of outstanding liability over the period, we have Nil liability over the period and other subsequent items associated with outstanding liability are also ready”.
 
 
He further stated that there were issues that cannot be resolved at the committee hearing, adding that “what you have are items that are classified as taxable. 
 
 
“We have some differences based on the provision of exemption order that was issued by the President in 2011. That’s why I said some of these issues we will not be able to resolve at this sitting.
 
 
“When the Committee asked the Bank to provide the Exemption Order on Education Tax as it relates to the matter under review, he could not provide any , Furthermore , the Bank already made  provisions in their Financial Statements for same Education Taxes without remittances in those respective years”.
 
 
 
Representatives of ASUU criticizrd the Banks for providing different figures to the Committee after making submissions earlier in January 2024 under Oath. 
 
 
The Union further requested the FIRS to stand-up to their duties on the efficient and honest  tax collection and stop the games playing with the Banks. 
 
 
The Union further commended the Committee for taking up the challenge to expose the fraud and corruption while enforcing compliance in our tax systems by some Corporate gurus despite their huge profits, yet unwilling to pay necessary taxes in support of Education to help the sector grow and the development of the Country human capital.
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Electricity Tariff: Speaker Abbas Says Increase Must Be Fair, Equitable, Beneficial To Citizens

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By Gloria Ikibah 
 
 
 
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas, has said that any adjustments made in the electricity tariffs must be fair, equitable and beneficial to all the stakeholders. 
 
 
The Speaker stated this at a special public hearing on the increase in electricity tarrifs organized by the joint House committees on power, commerce, national planning and delegated legislation on Tuesday in Abuja. 
 
 
Naijablitznews.com recalled that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently increased electricity tariff, a development which sparked great displeasure and attracted strong opposition from different groups across the country.
 
 
Speaker Abbas who was represented by the deputy speaker, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, said the public hearing was to ultimately examine all issues of concern with a view to proffering solutions. 
 
 
He said: “The fears expressed by many are valid – that such a sharp increase in electricity tariffs will only exacerbate the economic hardships already faced by our people. There are genuine concerns that higher utility bills resulting from this tariff hike could have a ripple effect on operational costs for businesses, potentially leading to increased prices for goods and services
 
 
“Electricity as we know, is not just a commodity; it is a lifeline for many households and businesses across our nation. Any significant rise in tariff could have far-reaching consequences for our economy and the livelihoods of our people. Therefore, it is essential that we carefully assess all factors before making any decisions that may affect the affordability and accessibility of electricity for our citizens. It is imperative that we engage in constructive dialogue to address these issues and ensure that any adjustments made are fair, transparent, and ultimately beneficial to all parties involved.
 
 
“It is in the light of the foregoing that the House convened this public hearing. As representatives of the Nigerian people, it is our duty to carefully consider the implications of such policies on our constituents’well-being and livelihoods. 
 
 
“Our goal is to ensure that any adjustments made to electricity tariffs are fair, equitable, and ultimately beneficial to all stakeholders involved.
 
 
“We must strive to strike a balance that safeguards the interests of consumers while also enabling sustainable growth and development within the energy sector.”
 
 
He assured that the House will continue to work with the executive arm of government, even as he urged the stakeholders to make valuable submissions that will help the parliament make an informed decision on the issue. 
 
 
“I urge all stakeholders present here today to engage in constructive dialogue and provide valuable insights that will guide us in finding a balanced solution to this pressing issue. Let us work together towards ensuring that electricity remains affordable for all Nigerians while also aupporting the growth and stability of our energy sector. Let us use this public hearing as an opportunity to listen to all stakeholders,understand their perspectives, and work towards finding a sustainable and equitable resolution to this pressing issue. 
 
 
“I want to emphasize our commitment to working closely with the executive to transform the Nigerian power sector into a model of efficiency and sustainability as outlined in our Legislative Agenda. We are dedicated to providing legislative support to the efforts of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s Administration in reforming the power sector by addressing all legal and legislative impediments accordingly”, he added. 
 
 
Speaker Abbas however expressed displeasure at the failure of the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to honour the invitation of the committees to make their respective presentations. 
 
 
He urged them to submit their memoranda to the secretariat of the committees, saying that positive results can only be made when all the stakeholders come into a partnership.
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Democracy Day: Senator Dafinone Felicitates Tinubu, Deltans, Nigerians, Calls For Unity

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

The Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ede Dafinone has called on Nigerians to take time out as the country marks 25 years of unbroken democratic rule to remember sacrifices of those who fought valiantly for the democracy we now enjoy.

The renowned accountant, now a lawmaker while congratulating President Bola Tinubu, the people of Delta Central and Nigerians in a signed statement, noted that Nigeria’s 25 years of unbroken democratic rule is a testament to the resilience, dedication, and unwavering commitment of the Nigerian people to the principles of democracy and freedom.

The Delta Central lawmaker also called on Nigerians to embrace unity, love, and respect for one another and to deepen their engagement in participatory democracy, and to guard against antidemocratic tendencies and ensure that our democratic values and culture are firmly entrenched at all levels of society.

Senator Dafinone’s media release titled: “Celebrating 25 Years of Unbroken Democratic Rule in Nigeria,” reads.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and to all Nigerians as our beloved country commemorate 25 years of unbroken democratic rule. This significant milestone is a testament to the resilience, dedication, and unwavering commitment of the Nigerian people to the principles of democracy and freedom.

“As we celebrate this historic day, let us remember the sacrifices of those who fought valiantly for the democracy we now enjoy. June 12th is not just a date; it symbolizes our collective struggle for justice, equity, and the rule of law. It is a reminder of the power of the people’s voice and the strength of our democratic institutions.

“I urge every Nigerian to embrace unity, love, and respect for one another. In our diversity lies our strength, and it is only through mutual understanding and cooperation that we can achieve the greatness we aspire to as a nation. Let us set aside our differences and work together towards a common goal: a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Nigeria.

“Furthermore, I call on all citizens to deepen their engagement in participatory democracy. It is our collective responsibility to guard against antidemocratic tendencies and ensure that our democratic values and culture are firmly entrenched at all levels of society. Let us hold our leaders accountable, participate actively in the democratic process, and foster an environment where every Nigerian feel valued and heard.

“As we celebrate this momentous occasion, let us renew our commitment to building a Nigeria where democracy thrives, where every citizen enjoys their fundamental rights, and where the future is bright for generations to come.

“Once again, congratulations to President Bola Tinubu, the Urhobo Nation and to all Nigerians. Together, let us continue to strive for a more united and democratic nation.

“God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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Senegal Joins Oil-Producing Countries In West Africa, Produces Oil For The First Time

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

Senegal has become one of West Africa’s oil producing countries as the country started producing oil for the first time on Tuesday.

As President Bassirou Diomaye Faye promised that profits from the sale of the country’s oil and gas would be “well managed”, Australian energy giant Woodside described the oil production in Senegal as a “historic day” and a “key milestone” for the company and the country.

BBC reports that the Sangomar deep-water project, which also has gas, aims to produce 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

It is expected to generate billions of dollars for Senegal and boost the country’s economy.

The general manager of the national oil company Petrosen, Thierno Ly, said that the country had entered a “new era” when production began on Tuesday.

Ly was quoted as saying, “We have never been so well positioned for opportunities for growth, innovation and success in the economic and social development of our nation.”

It was reported that Petrosen has an 18% stake in the project while Woodside owns the remainder.

Elected in April this year, President Faye has been keen on renegotiating the deal as part of reforms he promised during the election campaign.

The President, while speaking to students on Tuesday, said that the earnings from the oil and gas production would be “well managed”, and that an “inter-generation fund” had been set up for the benefit of “your generation and those to come.”

The country’s move to renegotiate oil and gas contracts has been seen by some analysts as making investors jittery, but government supporters have reportedly said that it is vital for the West African state to increase its stake in projects so that the nation benefits from its natural resources.

A former opposition politician, Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko, who was a key figure in the president’s election campaign, recently insisted that contracts signed by previous administrations were ”unfavourable” to the country, and would be reviewed.

Sonko was quoted as saying on Tuesday, “We’re the ones who promised you we’d renegotiate the contracts, and we’re going to do it. We’ve started already.

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