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VAT war: Nigerian government wants out-of-court solution

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THE Federal Government said it would consider an out-of-court solution in resolving the crisis surrounding the collection of value-added tax (VAT) between the Federal Inland Revenue Service and some state governments in the country.

“Yes, there will be a positive political solution. We are working towards an out-of-court solution,” Nigerian Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed said on Friday.

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Ahmed, who was speaking during her appearance on Channels Television said there were ongoing efforts to bring a political solution to the matter.

The minister said she hoped that the issue would be resolved on a roundtable rather than the pages of newspapers.

“I do hope that this problem can be solved by sitting on the table, not on the pages of newspapers, not disagreements in court because it is possible to solve it on the table.

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“There’s a lot of effort going on right now. I said I didn’t want to discuss it because it is in court so I have to be careful.”

A Port Harcourt Federal High Court ruled last month that Rivers State government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory.

In response, through its house of assembly, Rivers State enacted the state VAT law and immediately expressed its readiness to enforce the judgment beginning from this month.

Lagos State followed suit by enacting and signing the state VAT bill into law.

The state joined Rivers State as a co-defendant in an appeal filed by the FIRS against the Federal High Court judgment.

But an Abuja Court of Appeal has ruled that all parties in the matter should maintain the status quo.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State government had asked the Supreme Court to set aside the ruling of Court of Appeal.

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It also asked the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by the FIRS and all other processes be heard and determined by a new panel of the Court of Appeal.

In September, Ogun State joined the race as a bill to legalise VAT collection passed second reading in the state house of assembly.

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