Jonathan lacks political will to set up procurement council – Reps

The Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoki on Wednesday failed to appear before the House of Representative committee on public procurement that is conducting a hearing on amending the public procurement act.

Mr Adoki’s absence got the members of the committee who questioned the executive’s commitment to implementing the provisions of the public procurement act 2007, furious.

The Minister had also failed to honour several other invitations by the committee.

A member of the committee, Patrick Ihariale (PDP, Edo) said, the failure of Mr Adoke to appear before the House “is evidence of bad character”, adding that it was “deliberate, calculated and very conscious”.

The committee refused to listen to the Solicitor General of the Federation, Abdullahi Ahmed Yola who said he had the mandate of the Attorney General to speak before the committee.

The House of Representative had mandated the committee to invite the Attorney General to explain the reasons why the government had failed to constitute the National Council on Public Procurement in accordance with the Public Procurement Act.

The chairperson of the committee, Jumoke Okoya-Thomas, said that the absence of the minister indicates the lack of “political will on the side of the executive” on curbing the corruptions associated with the process of public procurement.

She said that Mr. Adoki was informed of the hearing 21 days earlier and that during this period, “the Senate came up with their own resolution” concerning the issue of public procurement.

The Senate had passed a bill requesting the President to constitute the National council on procurement.

“What you (Mr Adoki) are doing now is not respecting the resolutions of the National Assembly as a whole,” the lawmaker said.

Ms Okoya-Thomas said that the Minister’s action is “totally unacceptable” and that the committee will next Thursday present its report that the executive arm of government lack the political will to fight corruption in the processes of public procurement to the House of Representative.

Justice Minister grants Lagos State permission to prosecute tax offenders

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, has granted the Lagos State government the executive fiat to prosecute tax offenders in the state under the Personal Income Tax Act.

Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Justice, Mr Lanre Akinsola, disclosed this yesterday at a briefing on tax compliance in the state.

“Last week Thursday, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice granted approval to the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, to prosecute tax defaulters or evaders. This means that if you don’t pay your tax, you will go to jail and will not be liable to hold any public office position,” he said.

He said any person or cor-porate organisation that fails to submit tax returns for last year by the end of this month has committed an offence.

Earlier, while justifying why Lagos needs to increase its internally generated revenue that was N16billion monthly last year, the Special Assistant to the Lagos state Governor on Taxation and Revenue, Mr Abimbola Sodipo, said the challenge was funding the 106 new projects to be executed by the state.

He said available data show that out of the 20million population of the state, eight million are workers but only 2 .7million pay tax, while 5.3million do not.

Noting that Lagos has adopted advocacy, enlightenment, awards and recognition, among others, to encourage payment of tax, he said: “Now we are moving to a vigorous enforcement level. We will prosecute and refuse to listen to any concessions or waivers.”

Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Tunde Fowler, said the days the state relied on Abuja for much of its revenue are over.

He said funds from the Federation Account accounted for only 51.14 per cent of the state revenue for 2007 while it decreased to 37 per cent last year.

He said if every taxable person pays his tax in the state monthly internally generated revenue would increase to N20billion and this would help to build more infrastructure.

He explained that in the government’s proactive effort to ensure compliance with the taxation policy, a total of 610 companies were sealed up between 2010 and 2011 with N1,334,519,040.73 billion recovered.

Fowler enumerated the various punishments for failure to pay the Personal Income Tax. He said failure by a banker to render returns, books, documents and information on demand within seven days attracts a fine of N500, 000 for a corporate body and N50,000 for an individual, while failure by banker to render information about new customer within 7 days attracts N500, 000 for corporate body and N50, 000 for an individual. For an employer of labour, the PITA states that failure to deduct or remit tax will attract 10 per cent of tax not deducted, plus interest at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy Rate.