NEC Okays 2022 Finance Bill, Seeks Aggressive Domestic Revenue Drive

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•Proposed legislation to block tax loopholes, avoid double taxation

•Third parties owing us N5.2trn, says FG

Deji Elumoye and Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday approved the 2022 Finance Bill which makes provision for aggressive domestic revenue drive for the nation.

NEC which is composed of all 36 State Governors, the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and federal government officials at a monthly virtual meeting presided over by Vice President Osinbajo endorsed a memo on the Finance Bill for 2022.

The Media Assistant to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, in a statement, revealed that the the bill was presented to the Council by the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who explained that the proposed legislation was intended to be passed alongside next year’s budget by the National Assembly.

According to the minister, some of the proposed legislative changes cover domestic revenue mobilisation, closing tax loopholes, public financial management and tax administration reforms as well as international taxation issues.

She added that some of the principles of the Finance Bill 2022 were to ensure fiscal equity, avoid double taxation, and support businesses especially MSMEs.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, disclosed yesterday that third parties were owing the federal a total sum of N5.2 trillion with just N49.7 billion of the amount so far recovered.

The disclosure came just as she stated that the constraints imposed by corruption, insecurity and misgovernance on sustainable development are multi-faceted and require an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to tackle.

In a keynote address she presented in Abuja at the third National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, the minister described public sector corruption as a dishonest behavior by those in positions of power or authority, such as managers or government officials.

According to her, corruption includes giving or accepting bribes or inappropriate gifts, double-dealing, under-the-table transactions, manipulating elections, diverting funds, laundering money, and defrauding investors among others.

She added: “Although good governance security and the fight against corruption are instrumental to sustainable development, I believe that causality also runs in the other direction with growth and economic development creating a safe and secure environment where all Nigerians can pursue their livelihoods. “

“Corruption is multifaceted and comes in various dimensions and manners which ranges from electoral corruption, bureaucratic corruption, judicial corruption, to economic corruption, political corruption and moral corruption.

“It should however, be noted that most, if not all types of corruption have serious negative impact on the economic development of acountry. It is an undisputable fact that the issue of corruption in Nigeria has been endemic and pervasive over the years, costing the country trillions of naira that could have been channeled into economic development.”

Explaining that corruption is a hydra-headed monster which festers on every facet of the economy and national life, the minister noted that if left unattended to, it has the ability to cripple even the most viable economy.

Nigeria, she pointed out, has had her fair share of the devastating effects of corruption, adding that that explains why the current administration, from its inception in 2015 made the reduction/eradication of corruption in public sector to the barest minimum one of its primary concerns.

Ahmed further stressed that corruption was a pressing issue in Nigeria which affects public finances, investments as well as standard of living.

“Corruption leads to low governance effectiveness as a result of inefficient government expenditure and leakages. It leads to weak support for Foreign Direct Investment since it makes it increasingly difficult for investors to predict and make good business decisions under an economy burdened by corruption.

“Also affected is lower human capital as fewer people, especially the poor, are able to access healthcare and education. Poverty and unemployment of our youthful population are the tragic consequences of corrupt practices since the resources which could have been ploughed into socio-economic development are diverted to private use. This scenario poses a grave danger to the country because an idle hand is the devil’s workshop.

“The efforts of this administration to tackle corruption have focused on two (2) key measures: implementing good governance measures and ramping up indictments -including of high-profile cases. This government has worked continuously in diminishing corruption in Nigeria.

“The federal government has successfully conducted the audit of key federal revenue generating agencies under the approval and watchful eyes of the National Executive Council (NEC), which has led to the recovery of large sums of monies that were hitherto not remitted to the Federation account,” she added.