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Court tells FIRS: You can’t rake VAT on goods consumed in hotels

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Court tells FIRS: You can’t rake VAT on goods consumed in hotels

Justice Rilwanu Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has barred the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), from enforcing VAT provisions on goods and services consumed in hotels, restaurants and event centres in Lagos State.

Justice Aikawa gave the order while delivering judgment in the suit seeking to restrain the Attorney General (AG) of Lagos State from enforcing the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption (Fiscalisation) Regulations Law (HORC), 2017, in the view that VAT Act has covered the field.

In the suit the Registered Trustees of Hotel Owners and Managers Association of Lagos (HOMA) had sued the AG in Lagos State and FIRS in the suit no. FHC/L/CS/360/2018.

The HOMA had asked the court to declare that by virtue of Section 7, of the VAT Act, the second defendant (FIRS) was the only lawful and constitutional agency charged with the administration and management of consumption tax generally and particularly in Lagos state.

Justice Aikawa, in delivering the judgment, dismissed the suit and held that it was lacking in merit, adding that the plaintiff was obliged to comply with the HORC Law 2009 and the HORC Regulations 2017.

The court also raised two issues by herself: whether the Federal High Court had the jurisdiction to pronounce on the constitutionality of VAT. The court resolved that it has jurisdiction.

Aikawa also held that the issue of the powers of the minister to amend the schedule to the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act was not in dispute before the court and so no pronouncement could be made on it.

The court in dismissing the originating summons, as lacking merit and resolving the questions and reliefs sought in favour of the first defendant, held:

“That consumption tax is not stated in either the exclusive and concurrent legislative list, in the Constitution of Nigeria, therefore, the absence on the concurrent and exclusive lists, puts consumption tax on the residual list, which is within the legislative competence and powers of state governments.

“That VAT Act can’t cover the field over what the federal government has no power to legislate upon, under the constitution, therefore the determinant factor in the issue of covering the field, is whether there is power to make the Law.

“The provisions of VAT Act relating to consumption tax are inconsistent with the Nigerian constitution.

“The Minister of Finance has corrected the anomaly, by including consumption tax in the list of taxes collectible by state government, therefore,  the responsibility for collecting consumption tax lies on the state government.

“The provisions of Sections 1, 2, 4, 5 & 12 of VAT Act are in breach of the 1999 constitution and the plaintiffs are obliged to comply with the HORC Law 2009 and the HORC Regulations 2017.

“FIRS are barred from enforcing VAT provisions as it relates to consumption tax on goods and services consumed in Hotels, Restaurants and Event Centres in Lagos State,” the judgment read.

The Registered Trustees of HOMA had filed an originating summons asking the court to determine the following:

“Whether the VAT Act regulating imposition of tax on consumption of goods and services has not covered the field on taxation of goods and services consumed in hotels, event centres and restaurant in Lagos State.

“Whether by virtue of Section 7 of the VAT Act, the second defendant (FIRS) is not the only lawful and constitutional agency charged with the administration and management of consumption tax generally and particularly in Lagos State.

Also read:  NBS: FG generates N311.94bn from VAT in Q2, 2019

“Whether the provisions of the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption (Fiscalization) Regulations 2017 are of no effect, in view of the fact that VAT Act has covered the field”.

Consequently, the first defendant, (AG Lagos State), filed a counter-claim urging the court to determine;

“Whether the provisions of Sections 1, 2, 4, 5 & 12 of VAT Act by which the FIRS imposes tax on customers for goods and services consumed in hotels, restaurants and event centres in Lagos State is inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 4(2), 4(a) & (b) and 4 (7) (a) & (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and therefore unconstitutional and invalid?

“Whether by the provisions of Section 4 (7) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, the provisions of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act Cap T2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria as amended by the Schedule to the Taxes and Levies order 2015) and the provisions of HORC Law 2009.

“Whether the counter-claimant is the only constitutional and lawful body empowered to assess, impose and collect taxes from customers of the Plaintiff for goods and services consumed in hotels, restaurant and event centres in Lagos State.

The first defendant sought some reliefs which included;

“A declaration that the provisions of Sections 1, 2, 4, 5 & 12 of VAT Act is inconsistent with the constitution and therefore invalid and unconstitutional.

“A declaration that the counter claimant (AG) is the only constitutional and lawful body empowered to assess, impose and collect consumption tax in Lagos State.

“A declaration that the plaintiff is obliged to comply and implement the provisions of the HORC Law, made pursuant thereto, in relation to good and services consumed in Hotels , Restaurant and Event Centres in Lagos State

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the FIRS from implementing or enforcing the provisions of VAT Act on customers of the plaintiff for goods and services consumed in hotels, event centres and restaurant in Lagos State”.

All efforts, to reach the Lagos Attorney General and the Director Legal Services of the Lagos State Internal Revenue, for their comments on this judgment as at the time of filing this report was abortive.

 

 

Economy

FG Threatens To Open Borders for Cement Importation Over Price Hike

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Palpable fear has gripped cement manufacturers following the Federal Government’s threat to throw open the nation’s borders for cement importation if the product manufacturers fail to bring down the cost.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.

The meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.

The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.

“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.

“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.

“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.

The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.

“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper

Bags of cement

“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.

Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.

He expressed his displeasure at the position of  Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.

He said the association should not just fold  its arms when things were going wrong.

“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.

“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salako James, Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola  Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.

He, however, identified some areas of concern and appealed to the government to look into them to tackle the issue of cement pricing.

Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.

He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.

He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.

At the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.

The three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.

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Economy

Cement Price Can Be Lower Than FG, Manufacturers’ Projection — Association 

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…Warns that high price could lead to corner-cutting and building collapse

The National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON) says the agreement between the Federal Government and three major cement manufacturers that a 50kg bag of cement, for now, is not supposed to sell for more than N7,000 to N8,000 is faulty.

The National President, Mr Adesegun Banjoko, said this on Tuesday in Lagos.

Recall that the parties, at a meeting on Monday, said that the ideal price of  a 50kg bag of cement for now should be between ₦7,000.00 and ₦8,000.00 depending on location.

They agreed that the current higher prices of cement in parts of the country were abnormal.

The main manufacturers of cement in the country are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc.

According to Banjoko, there is no reason for the price of cement to be sold even at the projected prices, since limestone, which is a key ingredient, is readily available in Nigeria.

He expressed fears that the high price would lead to corner-cutting and building collapse.

The NABMON president expressed the belief that the government and manufacturers could do better and offer lower prices.

Bags of cements

He suggested a reduction or elimination of customs duties on other imported materials used in cement production, adding that this would incentivise manufacturers to lower their prices.

He, therefore, proposed a target price of ₦3,500 to ₦5,000 per bag.

Banjoko said, “There are three issues that make me disagree with the government and the main manufacturers.

“First, limestone is sourced in Nigeria; agreed they have some few other materials they bring in from abroad.

“But if the government is really concerned about life and property lost to building collapse, they should either remove custom duties on such items or reduce them by half to encourage the manufacturers to come down to between N3, 500 and N5, 000.”

He also advised the government to temporarily halt road construction projects that use cement.

Banjoko said that this would free up available cement for vital projects and potentially reduce demand, leading to lower prices.

The NABMON president warned that the high price of cement had added to the existing tensions in the country.

He urged the government to act cautiously with essential commodities like cement, emphasising its impact on public well-being.

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Economy

NGX: Bullish Sentiment Persists, Investors Gain N329bn

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Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

…Unilever Nigeria Plc, Julius Berger lead Losers’ table 

Bullish sentiment persisted on Thursday at the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) equity market, as the market indices rose by 0.58 percent.

Specifically, investors gained N329 billion or 0.58 percent, as the market capitalisation closed at N56.961 trillion, as against N56.632 trillion recorded on Wednesday.

The All-Share Index also appreciated by 0.58 percent or 601.72 points to settle at 104,100, compared to 103,498.28 posted in the previous session.

As a result, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return rose to 39.22 percent.

Continuous buy interests in the shares of BUA Cement, BUAFoods, and Geregu kept the market in the positive terrain.

A total of 284.49 million shares valued at N6.91 billion were exchanged in 8,168 deals, as against 426.86 million shares valued at N12.11 billion exchanged in 8,654 deals.

However, analysis of the market activities showed trade turnover settled lower relative to the previous session, with the value of transactions down by 42.89 percent.

Guaranty Trust Holding Company(GTCO) led the activity table in volume and value with the trade of 56.61 million shares worth N2.22 billion.

Transcorp followed with 33.17 million shares valued at N418.31 million, while United Bank of Africa(UBA) traded 18.38 million shares worth N442.96 million.

Also, Mutual Benefits Assurance sold 16.76 shares valued at N11.48 million and AXA Mansard traded 12.51 million shares worth N75.57 million.

On the gainers’ table, University Press Ltd.(UPL) led in percentage terms of 9.96 percent to close at N2.87, followed by Juli Plc by 9.84 percent to close at N1.34 per share.

Mutual Benefits gained 9.38 percent to close at 70k, Daar Communications rose by 8.82 percent to close at 74k, while Honeywell Flour garnered 7.50 percent to close at N4.30 per share.

Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

Conversely, Unilever Nigeria Plc led the losers’ table by 9.80 percent to close at N16.10, Julius Berger lost 9.64 percent to close at N50.60, while Morison Industries Plc shed 9.60 percent to close at N2.23 per share.

May & Baker Nigeria Plc depreciated by 6.52 percent to close at N6.45 and National Salt Company of Nigeria (NASCON) dropped 5.37 percent to close at N59.04 per share.

Market breadth closed negative with 26 declining stocks outnumbering 23 advancing ones.

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