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Nigerian Senators threaten showdown over FG’s plan to hike VAT

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The Finance Act (amendment) Bill seeking  incremental changes to Nigeria’s tax and fiscal law, which passed second reading on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, may not be plain  sailing  to become a law as some senators have vowed to shoot down the bill.

Specifically, they  said  they would mobilise stakeholders to reject the bill during public hearing.

The majority of the legislators, who spoke in separate interviews with Punch on Friday, said the proposed tax hike would worsen Nigerians’ plight.

During plenary on Wednesday some senators  raised points of objection  to the bill, saying they were not given  copies of the bill.

Unlike the usual legislative practice, copies of  the lead debate read by the Senate Leader,  Yahaya Abdullahi, were distributed to  the lawmakers,  but  the  details of the proposed bill were not attached to the document.

Attempts by senators to prevent the Leader of the Senate from going ahead with the lead debate pending the details attachment were frustrated by the Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

Using his power of the gavel, Lawan insisted  that the general principles of the  bill should  be discussed without the details of the document.

This was despite their vehement protests that such action would not enable them to make informed contributions, which the second reading was meant to achieve.

Speaking with Punch  correspondent on the issue,  a former Senate Leader,  Ali Ndume,  said he would never support any hike in VAT.

Ndume  said  the  Communication Service Tax Bill,  which has passed first reading, was aimed at replacing the proposed VAT hike.

He insisted that the  majority of his colleagues in the Senate were not in favour of  VAT increment.

He  said, “Nobody wants any increment in  VAT. Our people  are already rejecting it claiming that it would lead to inflation and increase their burdens.”

– Punch

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