Relevant Laws Back Our Collection of Stamp Duties, Says FIRS

  • Senate kicks against projected N500bn revenue for 2021 budget

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has justified its collection of stamp duties, saying there are relevant laws to back its action.

The Senate, however, objected to FIRS’s projected revenue of N500billion from the duties collection in 2021 budget.

Right of ownership of stamp duties collection between FIRS and NIPOST and the issue of two separate stamp duties came up during an interactive session between the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning and FIRS officials on the agency’s revenues projections for 2021 as contained in the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, had asked the FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhamnad Nami, on right of collection of the duties and the N500billion projected as revenue for 2021 budget as against N1.5 trillion. Nami, in his response, said there are two types of stamp duties which are the electronically related and the adhesive ones stated in section 5(2) of the Stamp Duty Act.

Postage stamp, he added, is different from stamp duties payments, which he said, going by relevant laws, can be made to FIRS or IRS.

According to him, though loopholes in the Stamp Duties Act are urgently needed to be addressed, the right of collection for the electronic related ones has been legally given to FIRS by the National Assembly through the Finance Bill passed last year and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari into an Act of Parliament.

“Besides, stamp duties are more of tax collections which the FIRS is constitutionally empowered by relevant provisions to carry out,” he said.

But the committee members took up the FIRS boss on the N500billion revenue projected for 2021 budget when parameters on ground, if utilised up to 100 percent, clearly indicate that the agency can rake in N3.06trillion; if utilised up to 65 percent, can rake in N2.9trillion or at worst, if 50 percent of the available parameters are utilised, N1.5trillion revenue can be raked in.

A member of the committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue East), said the N500 billion projected as revenue from stamp duties by FIRS in the 2021 budget is too meagre and inimical to practicability of the projected N12.6 trillion 2021 budget.

“The deficit in the projected budget is N5.1trillion, which requires aggressive revenue generation internally by agencies like FIRS in making the budget implementable,” he said.