Recently, the House of Representatives Committee on Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), directed the area councils to stop the use of consultants, contractors, taskforce or non- revenue officials in the assessment and collection of taxes and levies. The committee had requested that the practice be stopped forthwith and that area councils should comply with the provisions of taxes and levies, approved list for collection, Act-Cap T2.
In line with the development, a circular issued by one Joyce Anietie Umoren said the use of non revenue officials was bringing tax burden on ordinary masses and taxable outfits. The committee also decried the practice and described it as an act that encouraged the abuse of citizens’ economic rights, as well renders the revenue officials redundant, bring about wastages and leakages in the area councils.
This is coming after it was discovered that the consultants use their private accounts in collecting revenue, which according to the committee should be stopped.
However, a check by LEADERSHIP showed that the order had been overruled by the chairman of Bwari area council, Hon. Musa Dikko, which has not gone down well with many business owners, especially those in areas such as Kubwa, Dutse-Alhaji, Byzhin and Bwari main town. For instance, some revenue officials of the council are presently jobless, as their jobs have been taken over by these consultants, contracted through proxy arrangement.
Traders in Bwari area council, who spoke to our reporter, have expressed displeasure at double taxation, which is threatening most business activities in busy areas, even as the administration gave deaf ears to the circular which banned engaging consultants, taskforce for revenue collection.
Most of the traders said the situation was weakening their businesses, especially as they are being pressurized by both Bwari area council revenue department and the consultants engaged by the council’s administration.
Recently, some hotels in the area were served with two demand notices of tenement rates, without minding the implications, which according to them amounts to a multiple taxation. For instance, on April 4, last year, the officials of Bwari area council served a hotel located at NEPA Road in Kubwa demand notice. A consultant, Macree Trust International also served the same place with the notice on October 18, 2017.
Again, a similar incident played out at Pekolyn Hotel, Byazhin, where two demand notices were served for same the purpose, but with different dates. The council served its notice on April 21, 2017 while the consultant served another notice on November 08, 2017, making it to be complicated.
Under the current situation, many business owners in the area council have called on the National Assembly to ensure that its order on tenement rate stands, than allowing the consultant to be frustrating their businesses.
According to them, revenue officials from the area council should be allowed to collect tax, which they believe would strengthen their relationship as well as bring about sanity into the system.
One of the traders, Nkoli told LEADERSHIP that what the consultants are doing is worsening the whole development, and won’t help in area of revenue generation. He continued: “There desperation on the revenue collection is a real concern to us, especially for one person to be given two separate demand notices for same purpose. The better way is to allow the council’s revenue officials to do their work as usual.”
It would be recall that on November 17, 2015, the circular banning the use of consultants and taskforce also faulted the use of private accounts in collecting revenue. Though with the turn of events regarding revenue collection in Bwari area council clearly indicates that there are underground issues fueling the development and that some forces within the council were shielding to achieve an aim.
However, section 2 (1) of the Taxes and Levies Approved list for Collection Act, Cap. T2, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 prohibits and criminalizes the use of non- revenue officials popularly referred to as consultants, contractors or taskforce in revenue assessment and collection across the federation.
The situation is worst in the area of tenement rate, given that the shop owners and tenants are being compared to pay multiple taxes, resulting to extortion, due to double taxation, disturbances and constant harassment by the council’s agents.
Some of the demand notices obtained by our reporter revealed how the amount varies, ranging from N300, 000 to N400, 000, for areas appeared not be blooming location and the nature of activities.
Speaking on why the area council to overruled the House of Representatives order on revenue, the chief press secretary to Bwari area council chairman, Daniel Yisan said, “the council use technical staff not consultant.” Chief revenue officer to the council, Hajia Maimuna Bage told LEADERSHIP that the council was not ignoring the order, but that it has been rebranded to ‘technical’.
According to her, the council was using consultant, termed ‘technical adviser’ to hasten up the revenue payment, adding that the council doesn’t collect multiple taxes and that the use of technical adviser is to assist the council in hastening up the payment.
Some of the business owners in the area, including Chief Cleese Jonah of Penclony Hotel, Kubwa decried the revenue collection, saying it was frustrating their businesses.”This revenue issue is too much for us. Council will come with demand notice and consultant with other dues for us to pay. The situation is putting too much burden on us. The council has refused to obey the House of Representatives order, banning of use consultant for revenue collection.” He therefore urged the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello and other stakeholders to wade into the matter.
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