A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Setonji David, on Monday reiterated the state government’s determination to the implement the just signed Value Added Tax (VAT) Law in the state, despite last Friday’s Court of Appeal ruling for a stay of execution of a lower court order on the matter.
The lawmaker gave the position of the government on the matter when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme.
Speaking during the programme, the legislator said that Lagos would continue the implementation of the VAT law pending any order by the Appeal Court ruling otherwise.
The lawmaker said, “In Lagos State, we have always clamoured for true federalism. This is consumption tax from the people of Lagos and it should be domiciled in Lagos and used for the people of Lagos. There are so many hassles that have to do with federalism that we are practising.
“We generate over 55% of the VAT in Nigeria and we get a paltry sum of 10%. Is that fair for a population of over 24 million? We are happy that the Rivers State Government went to court and the court was very clear that VAT was supposed to be a state affair. We have no choice but to follow suit”, David maintained.
Expatiating further on the position of the state government on VAT collection, the lawmaker said: “The status quo is that we have enacted the law in Lagos and the law is in existent and I believe strongly that until another judgment is passed by the Court of Appeal to the extent that what we have done is wrong, the law subsists.”
“By our own understanding, what subsists in Lagos is our own law, until that law is set aside by the Court of Appeal. So, as far as Lagos is concerned, VAT in Lagos will be collected by the Lagos State Government.”
Noting that Lagos state does not enjoy special status despite generating over half of the country’s VAT, the lawmaker, representing Badagry 2 Constituency in the House of Assembly said that anywhere the government can get money to fund ongoing infrastructure projects such as VAT would be explored to the fullest.
Commenting on the speedy passage and signing of the VAT Bill, David said the bill passed through normal legislative stages despite the passage and signing within one week.
It would be recalled that Lagos State Governor assented the VAT bill just a day after its passage by the Legislature barely three weeks his Rivers State counterpart, Governor Nyesom Wike, signed the state’s VAT bill.
During the hearing on the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service on the High Court, Port Harcourt’s judgment which granted Rivers State’s prayers on VAT collection, Lagos State had at the Appeal Court last Friday asked to be joined as a respondent alongside Rivers State in the appeal case.
Justice Haruna Tsammani of the Appeal Court had adjourned to September 16 to hear the application by Lagos and asked all parties to “maintain status quo”.