Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has slammed those criticizing him for the decision of the state government to challenge the legality of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to collect Value Added Tax (VAT).
He believes Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including VAT to advance their development.
Governor Wike stated this on Monday when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present a letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House in Port Harcourt.
“Some people say, be your brother’s keeper; I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth?” he queried. “As it is being provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say be your brother’s keeper while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
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The governor faulted one of his colleagues who reportedly threatened that the judgement of the court that allowed states to collect VAT within their jurisdiction would not stand.
He said rather, such a governor should commend Rivers State government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism.
Governor Wike raised an alarm over attempts to frustrate Rivers and other states to actualise the constitutional provisions that empowered them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
He also described as an act of discrimination, the alleged refusal of the Federal Government to include Rivers as one of the states that would benefit from projects, for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
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“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank, of all the projects in all the states, the Federal Government did not include Rivers State,” the governor said.
He explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners and avoid corrupt practices.