Delta Assembly to Pass New Revenue Law Without Public Hearing

...Bill Contravenes Certain Laws, Lawyer Cries Out
By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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From all indications, the Delta State House of Assembly, has perfected plans to pass into law, the Delta State Internal Revenue Service Bill, 2020, on its floor without due process of organising a public hearing to get input from relevant stakeholders.

The bill which was introduced on the floor of the house for the first time last week Thursday 30, April, through a letter from the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, passed first and second reading on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

However, the bill was committed to the Special Committee on Bills and Public Accounts Committee by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, with directive to submit their report next week Tuesday 12, May, 2020.

The implication of the directive is that there would be no public hearing for stakeholders to make presentations on the bill as the committees are left with only three working days to produce their report.

One of the lawyers within the complex who doesn't want his name in print, said it was a legislative practice, the need for public stakeholders to make inputs especially on technical bills through a public hearing.

He said though lawmakers cannot be compelled to organise a public hearing, a court of law can stop the implementation of the law.

According to him, considering the technicality of the bill as well as the fact that parts of the bill contravene the provision of some existing laws like fundamental human right and freedom of information, it is necessary that a public hearing be conducted.

In the same vein, he pointed out that the establishment of the Delta State Internal Revenue Service was to cut off consultancy which had been the live wire of taxation in the state, nevertheless, the public should be given a chance in the making of this law.

Recall, Governor Okowa in his letter to the house last week, said the bill sought to grant autonomy to the Delta State Internal Revenue Service in their day to day running of technical, professional and administrative affairs.

According to him, the bill sought to repeal the existing provisions of the Delta State Internal Revenue Law Consolidation 2009 and the Internal Revenue Consolidation (Amendment) Law 2010.

He said the new bill provided amongst others, the establishment of the Delta State Internal Revenue Service, its Board, Powers, functions, administrative structure, staff welfare, discipline and financial provisions.