The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved two Executive Orders and five Amendment Bills to the country’s tax policies aimed at reducing tax burden on Nigerians and boosting ease of doing business.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Council’s meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Wednesday.
The two approved Executive Orders are: Value Added Tax Act (Modification) Order and Review of Goods Liable to Excise Duties and Applicable Rate Order while the five Amendment Bills include the Companies Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill and Value Added Tax Act (Amendment) Bill.
Others are Customs, Excise, Tariff ETC (Consolidation) Act (Amendment) Bill; Personal Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill and Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (Amendment) Bill.
The minister revealed that the approval followed the presentation of a memorandum to seek the consideration and approval of the Council for the report of the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee on Tax Laws Reform.
It would be recalled that FEC had on Feb. 1, 2017, approved the revised National Tax Policy in order to have a robust tax system that would promote investment and improve revenue for sustainable national development.
Adeosun maintained that the new tax policies would remove obsolete, ambiguous and contradictory provisions in the laws, increase government revenue and simplify the process of paying taxes and doing business.
“Majority of the provisions approved today are actually removing the tax burden and clarifying obsolete and ambiguous areas of tax. So for example for VAT there is to be exemption for residential property, leases on rental, transport for the general public and life insurance.
“These are areas that previously were VAT-able and what was approved today was that these areas should be removed, then, they shouldn’t be subject to VAT.
“In the short term of course that means a revenue lost for government. But we think in the long run that is the right thing to do is improving ease of doing business and reducing the tax burden on our people which is really one of the objectives of this government,’’ she explained.
She disclosed that the government was proposing an amendment to the Company Income Tax aimed at reducing the Right of Tax on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) from 20 per cent to 15 per cent.
She said the proposal when approved would also promote Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and protect most vulnerable persons in the society.
Adeosun also revealed that the Council approved N1.6billion for the procurement of 68 anti-smuggling vehicles for the Nigeria Customs Service.
She expressed the hope that the vehicles would enhance the operational capacity of the organization to effectively police the nation’s borders.
“The operational vehicles currently available for the NCS are grossly inadequate for effective anti-smuggling activities.
“The need to effectively patrol the borders of the country, enhance Customs’ bid to suppress smuggling and increase revenue collection gave rise to the request to purchase 68 operational vehicles,’’ the minister added.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the council approved N499million for the procurement of project monitoring vehicles for the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
Shehu disclosed that the Ministry of Education also got approval for the construction of a 3-Storey Faculty building for National Open University of Nigeria, at the cost of N711million.