By Rasaq Adebayo
The Lagos will sonny be autonomous in value added tax collection as the State House of Assembly has finally passed the VAT bill.
It also passed Open Grazing bill on Thursday, waiting for the governor’s assent.
The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, has directed the Acting Clerk of the House, Mr. Olalekan Onafeko, to transmit a clean copy to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his assent.
The two bills were passed after unanimous votes by the lawmakers at the sitting where the bills were read the third time on Thursday.
Immediately after their passage, Speaker Obasa commended his colleagues for their historic commitment, devotion and passion in seeing to prompt passage of these critical enactments necessary for inexorable growth and development of the state.
“I thank you all for this historic exercise,” Obasa said.
The House yesterday(Wednesday ), held separate public hearings on the bills with stakeholders expressing support with minimal expression of dissent from the Local Government Councils in the state regarding the issue of sharing formula of the VAT proceeds.
During the public hearing on Wednesday, the 20 Local Government councils and the 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state had demanded equal sharing formular of the tax.
It was reported that the Bill titled: ‘A Bill for a Law to impose and charge Value Added Tax (VAT) on certain foods and services’ provided for the administration of the tax and for related matters has passed second reading in the House.
The state is promulgating the law following the recent court judgement in favour of Rivers State.
The judgement has made Rivers State the rightful collector of VAT rather than the Federal Government.
In partial fulfillment of the process leading to the enactment of the law, the Lagos State House of Assembly organised a public hearing on Wednesday on the VAT bill.
At the public hearing, the 57 LG/LCDA chairman under the umbrella of Conference 57 demanded 50-50 sharing of the tax between the state government and the local governments.
The councils kicked against 75-25 formular proposed in the bill by the House in favour of the state government.
If the law is passed, the state would realise more money from the tax than it used to be when it was collected by the Federal government.
Earlier while considering the bill, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa had said that with the law, there would be more development across the state, saying the state government would have money to put in place critical infrastructure that would further make life more bearable for inhabitants of the state.
The Speaker further noted that the federal government has been giving the state a meagre portion of what it collects as VAT from the state.
Making the demand on behalf of others, the secretary of the Conference 57 who doubles as the chairman of Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA, Abdulrasak Ajala, said it would give them opportunities and wherewithal to execute more meaningful developmental projects for their people in their various council areas.
Being the closest to the grassroots, Mr Ajala explained that the councils, which also host companies, should benefit from a better share than the 25 per cent in the bill.
The council chairman commended the legislators for the bill, as well as the synergy between the executive and the legislature.
He said: “On the distribution of revenue, you will agree with me value-added tax is on consumption and production, and all these economic activities are domiciled in our respective communities. In addition, local governments, being the closest to the grassroots, need more revenues given the enormity of the responsibilities the Constitution confers on us.
“Hence, the 25 per cent in the bill is grossly inadequate for local governments to execute all the promises we made to our people; and of course all our electoral promises.” he said.