VAT: Rivers fighting for fiscal federalism, not the Fed Govt – Wike

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers said the state is not fighting the Federal Government or any of its agencies over collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) as being insinuated in some quarters.

At a public lecture entitled: “Taxing Powers in a Federal System” to mark the 60th birthday of Mr Ahmed Raji(SAN), Wike said that the state was only trying to pursue what was right and legitimate within the ambits of the constitution.

The governor who was represented by the Attorney-General of the State, Mr Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN) maintained that Rivers and the Federal Government were co-equal, because they both derived their life from the constitution.

“I have heard a lot of comments being made that we are fighting the Federal Government, there is no desire or any intention of the Rivers government to fight the Federal Government.

“The principle of co-equality is fundamental to a federal arrangement, that principle leads to the principle of autonomy, autonomy leads to physical autonomy and physical autonomy leads to fiscal federalism and when you put all the principles together, what it means is that each level of government, whether federal or state is co-equal because none derives its life from the other.

“They both derive their life from the constitution because they have co-equality.

“That is the fundamental aspect of fiscal federalism and until we get it, we will continue this journey of talking without result but I think that the court has a role to play , the court can lay this crises and controversy to rest when it makes a pronouncement.”

Also speaking at the event, Prof. Abiola Sani appealed to the judiciary to make definite and definitive pronouncement on the impasse surrounding tax collection in Nigeria’s federal system.

Sani, a professor of commercial law who was the guest lecturer at the occasion called on the National Assembly to use the on-going constitution amendment to bring out clear taxing powers among the three tiers of government.

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