Senate To Probe CBN, NIBSS Over N20trn Unremitted Stamp Duties

The Senate Committee on Finance is to investigate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBBS), over the non-remittance of stamp duties in excess of N20tr collected by the nation’s Banks and Financial Institutions by into the Federation Account.

This followed the consideration of motion on “The need to improve Internally Generated Revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria through non-oil revenue,” sponsored by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central).

Akinyelure, according to a statement by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, accused the CBN and NIBSS of “technically” refusing and even deliberately failing “to comply with the Presidential directives on the recovery of over N20tr revenue into the coffers of government.”

He recalled that the CBN had in January 2016 issued circular directing banks and financial institutions to charge stamp duty of N50 on lodgments into current accounts against revenue projections by the Federal Government of N2.5 trillion annually.

Since issuing the said circular, according to him, deposit money banks and financial institutions started collecting N50 per eligible transaction in accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Duty Act 2004 and Federal government Financial Regulations 2009.

The N20tr total revenue was due from stamp duties collected for 2013 to 2016, while over N5tr minimum revenue was due to be collected annually subsequently to the Federation account.

This amount, he stressed, would have been “shared among States of the Federation for infrastructural and economic development.”

The Senator lamented that since the implementation of the collection of stamp duties, “accountability by banks has not been transparent and no report by CBN or its subsidiary (NIBSS) to the Nigerian public to know the actual revenue generated, collected and transferred to the Federation Account.”

He recalled that the House of Representatives and National Economic Council had in May 2019, waded into the matter and recommended all agencies to support the Federal Government recovery mandate on the over N20tr stamp duty.

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), he said have adopted the combined resolutions of the House of Representatives and National Economic Council.

The lawmaker lamented that before the Joint Task Force could swing into action to recover the unremitted amount, the CBN in August 2019 released a report that its borrowings to banks will hit N23tr by the end of this year.

He prayed the Senate to urgently determine “whether the target N20tr fund is being recycled into private banks (with impunity) when Federal Government had directed its recovery.

“Section 111 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has empowered all 36 State Attorneys-General and Commissioners for Justice to shut-down any banking operation nationwide for ‘summary recovery’ of stamp duty revenue accruing to them by a further provision of Sections 163 of the same Constitution, and we should not fail in our collective role as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to stem the looming crisis for our various constituencies and the nation in general,” Akinyelure said.

In his concluding remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “I engaged the Ministry of Finance and CBN for interaction, and I discovered that what we have been expecting to be available as stamp duty is not so.

“I was under the impression that we had over N20tr somewhere. It will interest you to know that we don’t even have N1tr.

“What has happened is because those that are supposed to collect the stamp duties were taking advantage of the non-electronic transaction.

“With the passage of the finance bill, this is an opportunity we have to start getting what ordinarily should go to the government.

“The banks and many private organizations have taken advantage of the way the stamp duties have been.

“I want to believe that from January 2020, when the Finance Bill will start being effective, the stamp duty collection will be significantly improved.

“It is for our Finance Committee to monitor closely what the collection should be.

“We have also come up with another idea of engaging all the revenue-generating agencies on a quarterly basis.

“We have got already a list of all of them from the Federal Ministry of Finance. We will put them into maybe four groups, and the first meeting for evaluation of their collection will be sometime in March.

“We would like to know in the first quarter how much they have collected, and if they have not met targets; if they have met targets, how do we do better than that? The idea is not to slow agencies to do whatever they want.”