The fiscal reforms and the Finance Bill 2019 have thrown up proposed modifications to the fiscal rules around taxation contained in the Bill, clearly aimed at creating an enabling business environment and alleviating the tax burden for small and medium enterprises.

In furtherance of the consideration of the Finance Bill 2019, the joint Committee of the National Assembly recently had a public hearing to discuss the proposed modifications, which is expected to encourage growth and investment in the real sector of the Nigerian economy.

The presentation was to open up the debate to stakeholders and members of the public and to make the Bill all-inclusive and people-friendly.

Declaring the public hearing open, the Senate President, represented by Senator Omo-Agege, Deputy President, stated that the purpose of the hearing was to have inputs from critical stakeholders and the Nigerian public on the Finance Bill currently on the floor of the National Assembly. He said all views advanced would be critically analysed by the Assembly before the passage of the Bill.

In her presentation, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, stated: “The Finance Bill 2019 has generated a positive narrative from key stakeholders, economic analysts, tax experts and the general public. Furthermore, its provisions, if passed into law by the National Assembly, are likely to increase investor confidence and attract foreign direct investment.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, assured that the views expressed by the stakeholders would be seriously reviewed to ensure that the purpose of the amendment Bill would be achieved when it is finally passed.

Speaking on how supportive of the Bill they are, the KPMG representative said: “We are very supportive of these revolutionary initiatives by the Government.” She said the organisation was in alignment with the direction of the Bill as well as the palliatives that the Bill has provided, to ensure that the most vulnerable in the society were catered for. The MAN advised that both tax and levies should be harmonised. They also suggested that sections 7 and 89 should be revisited while the SMEDAN module be adopted in the categorization of micro, small and medium enterprises.

On its part, the CITN advised that the Bill should rather put the responsibility of collecting Stamp Duties on the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The Bill is to, among other things, amend the tax provisions and make them more responsive to the tax reform policies of the Federal Government and enhance its implementation and effectiveness.

Among the experts and stakeholders from the private organized sector who made presentations were OPTS, Pricewaterhousecoopers, KPMG, Joint Tax Board (JTB), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lyod, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and (CITN), Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN).

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