Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has assented to the Valued Added Tax, Open Rearing and Grazing Prohibition, and three other bills recently passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
He gave his assent to the laws – including the Child’s Rights Amendment Law, Residents Registration Agency Law, and Naming and Renaming of Infrastructure Law – on Thursday in Port Harcourt.
According to the governor, the judgement of the Federal High Court in the state capital has sufficiently addressed the illegality of VAT collection across states by the Federal Government via the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS).
He stated that the collection of taxes meant for states by the Federal Government has choked the states financially and turned them to be beggars.
“Of course, we are all aware that the states have already been strangulated,” Governor Wike was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesman, Kelvin Ebiri. “Most states depend on allocation from the federation account.
“States have been turned to beggars; hardly will any day pass that you won’t see one state or the other going to Abuja to beg for one fund or the other.”
Governor Wike believes concerns should be on establishing whose duty it is to collect VAT and the constitutionality of such a position before talking about who is going to suffer.
No Longer Fashionable
The Rivers State government, he said, awarded contracts to companies and paid over N30 billion to the contractors within the last month.
“Now, look at 7.5% of N30 billion of contracts we awarded to companies in Rivers State, you will be talking about almost N3 billion only from that source. Now, at the end of the month, the Rivers State government has never received more than N2 billion from VAT.
“So, I have contributed more through the award of contracts, and you are giving me less. What’s the justification for it?” he queried.
The governor remarked that states have been so weakened that they could barely survive without the monthly revenue received from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).
He stressed that attaining financial autonomy for the legislature and judiciary would be difficult when states were not allowed to collect due revenues as specified by the country’s constitution.
While thanking the state lawmakers for ensuring the speedy passage of the bill, Governor Wike assured residents that every area of the law would be maximised for the survival of Rivers.
In his remarks on the law prohibiting open rearing and grazing, he stated that condoning such a practice would be inimical to development and peace for any state.
Cattle rearing, according to him, is an agricultural business and the law is so intended to stem clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“All of us know what our people have suffered in terms of this open grazing. Today all Nigerians have come to accept the reality that open grazing is no longer fashionable.
“Even our brothers in the North have agreed that it is no longer fashionable,” he said.
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