VAT collection by Lagos will not impoverish other states ― Commissioner

• says it's about fiscal federalism

Lagos State government has assured that collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by the state will not impoverish other states in the federation and make collection cumbersome, declaring that the ongoing legal dispute over the issue was about instituting true fiscal federalism.

The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, gave this assurance on Wednesday while speaking on “Your View,” a TVC current affairs programme, even as he posited that Lagos State had a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute concerning VAT collection between the Federal and state government.

The commissioner, while noting that the crux of the disagreement was about equity, justice and fairness, expressed hope that it would also enrich the country’s jurisprudence and enhance the way the citizens see and relate with the Law.

This was as Omotoso declared that Lagos would always stand for true Fiscal Federalism, no matter what, promising that the state government would sensitise residents concerning its position on VAT debate.

“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” he said.

The Commissioner pointed out that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos put pressure on the state’s infrastructure, pointing out that additional revenue from VAT would 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 at affordable cost.

“There will be resources, should the state gain the right to collect VAT, 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,” Omotoso said.

On the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso recalled that it appeared like Lagos was turned into an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital to Abuja on December 12, 1991, saying there had been only modest support from the Federal Government.

He 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,” adding: “Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians.”

The commissioner, while speaking on revenue sourcing, said other states in the country can partner with Lagos 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.

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