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Unremitted N20trn Stamp Duties: We Have Recovered N35bn From Commercial Banks a CBN.

THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Wednesday, revealed that it had only recovered over N35 billion from the N200trn from Commercial Banks being the cost of stamp duty collected and not remitted to the Federation Account as required by law.

The CBN Acting Director, Banking Services, Mallam Abubakar Kure made the disclosure when appeared before the House of Representatives Adhoc committee probing the non-remittances of N20trn stamp from 2010 to date.

The CBN representative disclosed that the collection of Stamp Duties which stands at N35,240,916,338.54 and commenced from February 3rd, 2016 to

date and have not been remitted to the Federation Account on behalf of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).

According to him, 'we Submitted bank statements from 2016 to date stating all the collection of stamp duties dated May 13th. Also submitted were .details of bank-by-bank submissions

'Bank duties collected have not been remitted to the federation account as we haven't received instructions from the account owners.

And we're also aware of litigation pending at the supreme court preventing the movement of the funds into the federation account and once that's dealt with instruction from relevant agencies such as NIPOST to remit same.

When asked why it has continued to collect stamp duties if they're not remitting, he said as bankers, 'we're not authorised to move funds to customers accounts if there's no instruction to that effect.'

On the issue of collection, he said the CBN has also not received any instruction to stop collecting Stamp Duties, adding that if the supreme court ruling says the collected funds should be returned to those whose accounts were debited from, then the CBN in collaboration with relevant agencies and the deposit money banks will affect the directive.

It was at this juncture that he was asked how much has been collected so far as at today and whether it's paying any interest on the funds it holds and how much has been paid from the time it has been holding the money?

The members also pointed out that there was no record of the collection in Jan 2016, with Mr Kure saying that there was a secular in 2016 asking banks to remit all charges collected from stamp duties and that commercial banks have complied as they wouldn't have violated such a directive that would attract stiff penalties to them.

Asked to either corroborate or puncture the CBN's claim, Mr Oladele Agboola, Company Secretary and legal adviser to Nigerian InterBank Settlement Systems plc (NIBSS, said 'before 2016, no bank collected stamp duties from their customers because there was no legal basis to do so, neither was their instructions for any bank to charge stamp duty on any transfer made electronically.'

According to him, ' however, NIBSS was engaged with the mandate to assist in weekly collation of stamp duty charges deducted from account holders in commercial banks from March 2017 and has reported to the CBN to date and NIBSS doesn't charge any fees for doing this 'From March, 2017 to May 2019, NIBSS has collected the sum of N30,40,615,632.71 from commercial banks and remitted to CBN on a weekly basis.'

Speaking on the disparity between CBN's figures and those of NIBSS, Agboola said the gap from February 2016 to March 2017 must have accounted for the differences in figures.

Speaking while declaring the hearing open earlier, the House Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara stated that the hearing was called to allow public participation in the

investigation to facilitate fair hearing on the matter.

Hon Dogara who was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip, Hon Parly Iriase, noted that the CBN had upon the amendment to the Stamp Duty Act in 2004 directed deposit money banks to charge stamp duties on transactions above 500,0000 nairas, 'and since then, these charges which are meant to be remitted to the federal government coffers are alleged to have been kept away.'

He said the budget in 2018 performed at a mere 36 per cent with a report from financial watchdogs putting the Stamp Duties at around N20trn which has been said to be kept away from the government.

He added that 'the committee has been mandated therefore to ensure that everything about this stamp duties is unravelled.

According to him, 'I also call on my colleagues to act with dispatch in carrying out this assignment in the promotion and preservation of our Nation's economy.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:May 16, 2019
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