VAT Dispute Is All About Fiscal Federalism -Lagos Commissioner

Opponents of states’ collection of Value Added Tax, VAT, have got a reply. It will not impoverish other States and make collection cumbersome, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso has said.

He gave this assurance while speaking today on “Your View”, a TVC current affairs programme.

His words: “Lagos has a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute as the crux of the disagreement is about equity, justice and fairness. Whichever way it goes, it will also enrich our jurisprudence and enhance the way we see and relate with the Law. No matter what, Lagos will always stand for true Fiscal Federalism”.

The Commissioner pointed out that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos puts pressure on the State’s infrastructure, adding that additional revenue from VAT will facilitate infrastructure development for faster movement of goods and services as well as economic growth for the benefit of not only Lagos but other States as prices will fall.

Speaking on the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso described the State as a “Giant that carries most of the burden of Nigeria on its shoulders and the engine-room of the nation’s financial and business activities”.

“Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians”, he said.

Omotoso noted that other States can partner with Lagos to generate more revenue or resources by taking advantage of its huge population and massive market to sell their agricultural produce and other products, while profits realised therefrom would be repatriated to create more wealth for farmers and other producers in such States.

He recalled that it appeared like Lagos was turned into an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital to Abuja on December 12, 1991, as there has been only modest support from the Federal Government.

In his view, should the State gain the right to collect VAT, there will be resources for more infrastructure or facilities in transportation, health, education etc, that will be of benefit not only to Lagosians, but others who troop in every day.

The Lagos spokesperson also promised that the State will sensitise residents concerning its position on the debate.

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