By Akin Akande, Abuja
The FCT Property Tax and FCT Board of Internal Revenue Service Bills when passed into law by the National Assembly will expand revenue base, which will lead to increase pace of provision of basic infrastructure and amenities for residents of the Federal Capital Territory.
The Senate President, Senator David Mark stated this while declaring open the public hearing of the National Assembly Joint Senate and House Committees on FCT on the Bills for Acts to establish the FCT Board of Internal Revenue Service and FCT Property Tax at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arms-Zone, Abuja.
The Senate President therefore congratulated the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed on efforts to improve the lives of the residents of the Federal Capital Territory.
Senator Mark remarked that the initiation of these bills and their passage into law will witness a turning point as the FCT Administration will have enough to tackle its infrastructural challenges including in the Satellite Towns.
Also speaking at the event, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal said that the Nigerian citizens would be the ultimate beneficiaries of the benefits of the internal revenue and property tax bills when passed by the National Assembly as it will speed up development in the nation’s capital.
The FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed while presenting his memorandum in support of the establishment the two bodies assured that the bills when passed would further enhance the successful delivery of services to the residents of the Federal Capital Territory.
The Minister pointed out that global practices cited in the FCT administration memorandum, has shown that Federal Districts such as Washington D.C., Brasilia, Canberra, etc., have shifted from a centralized tax regime to a decentralized system.
According to him, “city states like Berlin, Vienna and even Lagos – Nigeria’s former capital city has decentralized revenue collection”.
He reiterated that in the past when Lagos was the Federal City of Nigeria, the administration of all taxes and levies collectable by states in the Federation was vested in Lagos State Board of Inland Revenue and not Federal Inland Revenue Service.
Senator Mohammed added that the FCT Administration should therefore be given the consideration to administer taxes in the Territory for good governance and sustained provision of the required infrastructure and other social amenities to the ever-growing population of the Territory.
The Minister further said that the need for good fiscal administration in the tax system and steady flow of revenue for sustained provision of amenities and other infrastructure in the Federal Capital Territory is paramount in view of the dwindling allocations received from the Federation Account which is grossly inadequate towards realizing its aspiration.
His words: “We therefore have no other option other than to explore untapped sources of funding to meet the ever growing challenges of providing for the social needs of the teeming population in terms of education, health care, water, environment, transportation, etc.”
In his opening remark, Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi reminded the public that it takes about N30billion to develop a district in the FCT, but given the yearly budgetary allocations of less than N50 billion, it will take the FCT administration over 10 years to complete development of infrastructure within a district.
This according to him explains the reasons why the FCT at 36 years is still crawling in terms of infrastructural development to meet the demands of its ever growing population.