The controversy on who has the responsibility of the collection of stamp duties between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) has continued unabated as there are indications of a fresh crisis brewing between the Federal Government and labour union over the matter.
There had been a cold war and sometimes public fight between the two Federal Government agencies over who is empowered by the law of the land to assess, collect and account for the stamp duty charge.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in the recently signed Finance Act, had given the responsibility of collecting stamp duties charges to the FIRS, instead of NIPOST, that before now performed the function.
The stripping of NIPOST of the responsibility of collecting stamp duties charges has not gone down well with Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
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The labour union has viewed the development as a usurpation of its statutory duty by another agency of government and had even at some point alleged that the decision could lead to the loss of about 15,000 jobs in NIPOST.
What the Labour Union is saying about the Stamp Duty collection controversy
In a chat with journalists in Abuja over the matter, the immediate past National President of SSASCGOC and the National Treasurer of TUC, Mohammad Yunusa, said the federal government has already been dragged to court over the matter.
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Yunusa said, ”The problem we have that is connected to the Federal Government directly is about the Finance Act. The Finance Act has given the primary functions of NIPOST, which is one of our branches, to FIRS and we have challenged government on this matter even to the court that, that Finance Act must be reversed.
‘You can’t take the statutory function of NIPOST and give to another agency in the disguise of Finance Act, we can’t accept it.
”Is there any organization by law that is allowed to produce and sell stamps in Nigeria apart from NIPOST? That’s what they are trying to do but it is not acceptable to us.”
Yunusa, who made these comments on the sidelines of the SSASCGOC, also vowed that his union would do everything possible in its rights to ensure the moves by the government to privatise the Nigerian Communications Satellites were not achieved.
He argued that the agency would go into extinction immediately after its privatisation.
He said, ”The Federal Government is trying to interfere in the Nigerian Communications Satellites (NigComSat). Although, to a great extent, we have settled that matter but they have not entirely removed their hands.
”Government is thinking of privatising that organisation with the excuse that they are not generating enough revenue. But we are saying No!
”Once you privatise that organisation, especially with insecurity in Nigeria, all manners of bandits and insurgents will take over that place because the people you’re privatising to, only God knows what they would do with that enterprise after you have privatised it to them.
”To some extent, Government has listened to us, but we can still see some signs that they have not removed their hands entirely.’’
What you should know
- Recall that in August 2021, the Board Chairman of NIPOST, Maimuna Abubakar, in a series of tweet posts accused the FIRS of not only stealing the postal agency’s mandate but also stealing its ideas by sneaking its patent and everything in its documents into the Finance Bill and removing the name of NIPOST.
- It claimed that NIPOST is the sole custodian of national stamps, but that FIRS is printing and selling stamps instead of buying from the postal agency, which is against the law of the land.
- However, the FIRS in its response explained the difference between Stamp Duty and Postage Stamp, insisting that it has the mandate to collect stamp duty while NIPOST is in charge of postage stamps.
- It stated that NIPOST is a government parastatal established by Decree 41 of 1992 with the function to develop, promote, and provide adequate and efficiently co-ordinated postal services at reasonable rates.
- It also pointed out that the FIRS is the sole agency of government charged with the responsibility of assessing, collecting, and accounting for all tax types including Stamp Duties.