The Kwara State House of Assembly has invited stakeholders and general public to the public hearing of a bill titled “Kwara State Consolidated Revenue Codes and Rates Bill, 2020.”
The bill proposed by the state governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, on September 24, seeks the review of the revenue rates and to provide for the effective and transparent collection of revenue in the state.
It also seeks the disintegration of the revenue codes and rates from the Kwara State Revenue Administration Law passed in 2015.
The bill, which was referred to the Rules and Business Committee of the Assembly on same day, has passed the first and second reading.
According to the public announcement made by the clerk of the assembly, Halima Kperogi, on Tuesday, the public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, October 12, in the Kwara State House of Assembly Complex, Ilorin, the state capital.
“Invited Stakeholders and General Public are to submit (10 ) copies of their position papers on the Bill to Room 114 on or before 8th October, 2020 to the Assembly Complex. Your submission can also be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.kwha.gov.ng for more information,” the statement read.
The public announcement comes a week after the assembly approved a regulation which detailed the review of the revenue codes and rates, a major component of the new bill.
The governor requested for the approval of the regulation on September 28, four days after the bill was sent, because the state government wanted to access a sum of 2 million naira grant from the World Bank.
The grant is to promote transparency and accountability through the international bank’s States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) – Program-for-Results (PforR) project.
The project is also aimed at strengthening the fiscal transparency, accountability, and sustainability in the participating states in Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the approval of the revenue code and rates bill or a similar regulation is one of the criteria for the grant, hence the need for a ‘hasty’ approval.
The approval was conveyed in a letter sent by the clerk of the Assembly to the Governor on September 29.
“This Hon. House hereby approves the Kwara State Consolidated Revenue Codes and Rates in accordance with the provisions of Sections 21 and 81 (2) of the Kwara State Revenue Administration Law, 2015 to enhance and strengthen fiscal transparency and accountability in the collection and administration of tax revenue the State,” a copy obtained by PREMIUM TIMES read.
Reacting to this, Executive Director, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, Abideen Olasupo, questioned the transparency and accountability of the lawmakers since the approval came a day after the request.
“While it is a good one to access the World Bank grant, it is important to ask salient questions. If this is done in less than 24 hours, when did the members of the parliament consult their constituents? It was hurriedly done. The highest office in the land is the office of the citizens and the lawmakers must realise that.
“A part of the new bill was drafted out for approval which means the opinion of the people won’t even count at the public hearing,” Mr Olasupo told PREMIUM TIMES.
Meanwhile, the special assistant to the Speaker of the Assembly on media, Ibrahim Sheriff, said the state government has nothing to hide.
“If the government does not want to be transparent, it would have back-dated the letters which are in the public domain,” he said.
Mr Sheriff agreed that the approval was to access the World Bank’s grant and that the regulation was solely for that purpose.
“The Governor was afraid that if we wait for the passage of the bill, it is a longer process and we may not be able to access the grant. That was why we settled for the regulation.”
He also defended that the approval will not affect the public hearing or the passage of the bill.