The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has knocked those criticising the move by the state government to challenge the legality of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in collecting Value Added Tax (VAT).
The governor argued that the nation must encourage federating states to harness their resources to generate revenues, including VAT to advance their development.
Wike, who spoke when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to his office, said he had no problem with being his brother’s keeper as canvassed by some people, but maintained that they must first acknowledge that the states have the right to collect VAT.
The governor said, “Some people say, be your brother’s keeper; I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth?” he queried. “As it is being provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say be your brother’s keeper while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike faulted one of his colleagues who reportedly said the judgement of the court that empowered states to collect VAT within their jurisdiction would not stand, saying that the governor should instead, commend the state government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism.
Meanwhile, the governor raised the alarm over attempts to frustrate Rivers and other states from actualising the constitutional provisions that empowered them to exploit their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
Also, he described the alleged refusal of the Federal Government to include Rivers as one of the states that would benefit from projects, for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute, as an act of discrimination.
“Look at the money that the Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank, of all the projects in all the states, the Federal Government did not include Rivers State,” the governor said.
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