By Timi Black
A lawyer and Chairman Board of Trustees, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC), Cleric E. Alaowei, Esq, has commended the House Representatives for the move to back state collection of VAT with legislations.
The lawyer said the bill allegedly sponsored by members of the House of Representatives, Hon. Hassan Usman Sokodabo and Hon. John Dyegh to alter item 39, Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) was the sour path to fiscal federalism.
According to him, the bill which is seeking to move the items set out in Item 39 Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution from the exclusive list into the concurrent list would validate the resource control struggle.
Alaowei stressed:” The same will in no doubt stabilize the polity thereby engendering competitive economy”
The legal practitioner in a statement titled: “Reps Bill on State Control of VAT Is The Answer To Resources Control Agitations” said the bill, if passed into law would mean that state governments shall manage their resources, mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, Value Added Tax(VAT), geological surveys as well as natural gas.
He further explained that going by the bill, if passed, 50% of the total revenue accruable from the minerals would be retained by the State where the minerals are derived, noting that 30% would be credited to the Distributable Pool Account, while the remaining 20%, would be credited to the Federation Account.
The statement read partly:”The Bill in our thinking is retaining the derivation principles provided by the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions respectively. This is the gateway to fiscal restructuring of the Country. The nation will in no doubt experience speedy developments of an unimaginable proportion if the said Bill is passed into law.
“We commend the National Assembly for taking this bold step to solve the age-long revenue crisis in the Country. The National Assembly should not throw away this very important bill. Of all the ongoing amendments to the 1999 Constitution, this resource control bill is the most important that can sustain the unity of this Country till eternity.
“We appeal to the sponsors of the Bill or better still the National Assembly to amend 44(3) of the Principal Act to make it in sync with the items sought to be altered in the Constitution. All Nigerians should queue behind the National Assembly to pass this Bill.
His words:”The time has come for us to depart from our ethno-religious sentiments in propagating our core values as a nation. This Country needs our collective imprimatur to practice true federalism which the House of Representatives have started. For us to survive as a nation in the midst of the daunting challenges, we need to practice true and fiscal federalism.
“We use this medium to appeal to the National Assembly to increase the host communities funds in the Petroleum Industry Act from 3% to 10% in the proposed amendment to the Principal Act. The NASS should consider the yearnings of the oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta who bear the environmental degradation”, he added.