For the first time since Abuja became Nigeria’s seat of power, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has been empowered by the National Assembly to independently generate revenue for the administration of the territory.
This feat was achieved on Wednesday when the Senate adopted the harmonised report of both chambers of the National Assembly and eventually passed a bill establishing FCT Internal Revenue Service with the powers to collect, assess and account for revenues accruable to the FCT.
The bill also provides for the establishment of FCT Internal Revenue Service and Management Board with the power to sue and be sued, control and administer different taxes within FCT and as well as account for such taxes.
The bill, which was sponsored by Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi, provides that the board shall be headed by a chairman appointed by FCT minister subject to the approval of the National Assembly and consists of deputy chairman, six representatives from different departments of the FCT as well as six persons drawn from each of the six geo-political zones of the country who, are knowledgeable in tax matters.
The Service, shall among others, collect, recover and pay to the designated account any tax or levy due to the FCT. It will also assess all persons chargeable with tax within the FCT; collect, account and enforce payment of taxes as may be due to the FCT.
In collaboration with relevant agencies, the board will review tax regime and promote application of tax revenues with a view to stimulating economic activities and development and as well administer, collect and enforce payment of property tax in the FCT.
The service will also issue a tax payer identification number to every person taxable in the FCT, collate and review all policies of FCTA that relate to taxation and revenue generation and simultaneously undertake a systematic and progressive implementation of such policies.
The board is also empowered to trace, freeze, confiscate or seize the proceeds of tax fraud and evasion and from time to time determine the extent of financial loss and other losses arising from tax waivers and other related matters.
Once assented to, the FCT will be charged with the responsibility of fending for itself and break away from the age-long tradition of being spoon fed by the federal government which has been responsible for provision of funds for the operations of the territory since inception.
Senators hailed the third reading of the bill, saying it is coming at the time the nation is facing economic challenges resulting from dependence on only oil as Nigeria’s mainstay.