Labour cautions FG over planned removal of NIPOST’s core mandate

•Writes Buhari, NASS

THE Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), has warned against the plan by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to take over the core mandate of Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) at the detriment of national development.

Already, the union has written President Muhammadu Buhari; the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal, and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on the scheme, being spearheaded by the Finance minister to divert the core duty of stamp duty collections, both physical and electronics, illegally from NIPOST to FIRS.

The Stamp Duties Act Cap S8 Laws of the Federation 2004 and the NIPOST Act Cap N127 LFN 2004, have given the sole power to collect stamp duties to NIPOST. However, with the coming of technology and electronic transactions, which are not provided for in the extant act, NIPOST has moved further to seek amendment to the extant legislation and Stamp Duties Act, to enable it collect stamp duties on electronic transactions.

In the letter, signed by the president-general of SSASCGOC, Mohammed Yunusa, and the general secretary, Ayo Olorunfemi, the union recalled that the post office, which metamorphosed into NIPOST was a pre-independence creation; and noted that from independence to date, there had been series of amendments that had been made to the statute that established the organization.

It said: “As a responsible trade union, we appreciate the efforts, commitment, including the sacrifices, you are putting into the reconstruction of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the need for the support of all of us. It is against this backdrop that we have decided to alert you to the impending attempt by the Minister of Finance in collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to kill and bury the NIPOST.”

The union noted that postal service is a universal project for which Nigeria is a major player, adding that any attempt to kill it should be resisted by all, especially those that are driven by the quest for national development.

It said: “Currently, NIPOST is positioned to cause massive grassroots development through rural financial inclusion and provision of a very strong platform for efficient management of security challenges.

“It is also currently involved in the payment of conditional cash transfer to the less privileged in Kebbi, Edo, Ondo and Enugu states. These cannot work effectively if the attempt by the Minister of Finance to take away the collection of the N50.00 electronic stamp duty to denote electronic receipts, documents and other instruments is not checked, since the cost of collection for NIPOST on this electronic transactions will further enable NIPOST to improve its decrepit infrastructure for better service delivery and performance.”

SSASCGOC pointed out that while NIPOST was initially seeking amendment to the extant law to enable it collect stamp duty on electronic transactions, the FIRS vehemently opposed the move and wondered why the same FIRS would now pick interest in collecting it when the service realized that the effort was becoming successful.

The letter read: “Your Excellency may wish to be informed that the Finance Bill before the National Assembly has a provision amending the Stamp Duties Act Cap S8 LFN 2004 in line with NIPOST request and as contained in the draft regulations earlier agreed by all the stakeholders.

“We are, therefore, surprised to discover that there had been overt moves by the office of the Minister of Finance to divert the collection which is the responsibility of NIPOST to another agency of the government – Federal Inland Revenue Service, at the detriment of NIPOST and overall National Development.”

The union noted that denoting receipts, documents and other instruments with adhesive postage stamp predates the establishment of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

It also noted that the FIRS have never at any time since its creation collected this stream of revenue for the Government.

“That diverting this stream of revenue to the FIRS will amount to outright closure of NIPOST who had championed the implementation of the Act to ensure that no Government revenue is lost in the more than ten (10) years.” It added.

The union warned that if this is allowed, it would get to a time when the FIRS would want to take over the jobs of all revenue generation agencies of government, such as NAFDAC, NNPC and such other parastatals.

SSASCGOC, therefore called on President Buhari, the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives to consider and reverse any attempt to divert this revenue source from NIPOST to any other Government agency.

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