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Buhari writes Senate on finance bill, seeks approval

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has transmitted Finance Bill 2020 to the National Assembly for consideration and passage along with the 2021 Appropriation Bill presently before the parliament.

Both President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, read Buhari’s letter at the opening of Tuesday’s plenary.

While the cover letter was titled ‘Transmission of the Finance Bill 2020 to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law in support of the 2021 budget,’ the bill proposed various amendments to existing tax laws and financial regulations in response to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and the current recession.

Part of the letter read, “Pursuant to Sections 58 and 59 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I formally request that the Finance Bill be considered by the Senate/House of Representatives for passage into law.

“The Finance Bill, 2020, seeks to support the implementation of the 2021 budget by proposing key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal and other laws. Specifically, this bill’s provisions:

“Adopt appropriate counter-cyclical fiscal policies to respond to the economic and revenue challenges precipitated by the decline in international oil prices, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy.

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“Reform extant fiscal policies to prioritise job creation, economic growth, socio-economic development, domestic revenue mobilisation, as well as to foster closer coordination with monetary and trade policies.

“Provide fiscal relief for taxpayers by reducing the applicable minimum tax rate for two consecutive years of assessment, as well as reforming the commencement and cessation rules for small businesses.

“Propose measures to fund the Federal Government’s COVID-19 pandemic response and introduce provisions to enhance the recovery of corporate donations towards responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as any similar crises in the future.

“Amend certain aspects of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to align this Act with the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as well as to enhance fiscal efficiencies by controlling the cost-to-revenue ratios of key state and government-owned enterprises.

“Amend the Public Procurement Act to implement key procurement reforms previously proposed by the National Assembly, in 2019, to extend the scope of the Act to the Federal Judiciary and Legislature accelerate procurement processes, increase mobilisation fee thresholds and provide for essential e-procurement reforms.”

The President added, “I trust that this bill will be favourably considered by the National Assembly, to accelerate its passage into law, so as to support the implementation of the 2021 Federal Budget.”

Punch

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