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Faceoff imminent as communications, finance ministers disagree on stamp duty collection

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A face-off may be in the offing between the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Issa Pantami and his counterpart at the Ministry of Finance, Zainab Ahmed over controversies trailing the decision to transfer the collection of stamp duty to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).

While the finance minister is backing the FIRS bid to takeover the collection, Pantami insisted on Friday that the collection remains the sole responsibility of NIPOST.

The Minister made the declaration at an interactive press session with reporters in Abuja on Friday.

According to him, Stamp duty should be collected by NIPOST the way Customs duty is collected by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), insisting that the FIRS or the Ministry of Finance have no business in collecting stamp duty because there is no justification for that.

‘‘The FIRS has been working to be the agency collecting the duty; the crisis started before my appointment as the Minister and I was not briefed on time about the real situation. But when I heard about it, I intervened and I presented the case to the President that Stamp Duty should be collected by NIPOST.

‘‘There is no harm if FIRS supports them and they work harmoniously but that collection of the duty should not be done by FIRS or the Ministry of Finance because there is no justification for that.’’

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The minister further explained that NIPOST expressed worry that the FIRS in its bid to take over the collection of Stamp duty invited stakeholders that will be collecting Stamp Duty without involving the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy or NIPOST.

‘‘They only invited few stakeholders that will support their interest who endorsed it saying that FIRS should collect Stamp Duty but we objected to it. I wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance saying that this cannot be tolerated; I also wrote the Senate President on the issue, we insisted on our stand. Though, we have no power to change government policy but we have power to challenge injustice and as far as I am concerned, this is one of the many injustices that should be challenged.

‘‘We insist that Stamp duty should be collected by NIPOST and it is an injustice if NIPOST is denied the opportunity. We have advised the government on this and government has the final say on it but we insist that NIPOST is the right agency to do that. For us, it is a selfish interest trying to deny NIPOST the right to collect the duty,’’ he said.

The minister however revealed that the Federal Executive Council is yet to discuss, or take a position on the matter contrary to the insinuation that it had given approval to the FIRS to be collecting the revenue.

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