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Umahi to Southern Govs: Be your brothers’ keeper, Ebonyi won’t implement VAT collection

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Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi

Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, on Friday, knocked his colleagues on the platform of the Southern Governors’ Forum over their resolution supporting the collection of the Value Added Tax by states.

Umahi, who is the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, made it clear that Ebonyi won’t pursue VAT collection or implement the decision of the Forum made at a meeting in Enugu on Thursday.

He spoke on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme monitored by The PUNCH.

VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered. It is charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.

Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal in a ruling on September 10 stopped the collection pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.

Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.

The Southern Governors’ Forum led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), reading a communiqué at the end of a meeting on Thursday had said, “The meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”

‘I believe in administrative restructuring’

But speaking on the television programme on Friday, Umahi, who was represented at the meeting in Enugu by his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, said the resolution of the Forum does not reflect his stand on the issue.

He said, “In any gathering, the minority will have their say and the majority will have their way. For example, there was an issue that came up. I’m not sure it is clear to some of our colleagues on the issue of VAT but it is very clear to me.

“We (Ebonyi) took a stand as a state with our leaders on the issue of the VAT war that is going and so my deputy carried it on to say that this is what my governor is saying and this is what the state is saying and he went ahead to explain with some other deputies that represented their governors.

“But together they were in the minority and it didn’t stop the majority from coming up with their communiqué. When it comes up to implementation and voicing out, I will continue to say: this is where is I stand; if it is a choice, I will choose what would benefit my state.”

Umahi also said there is no state in the country that is not enjoying the help of other states.

“When they (Southern governors) say that this VAT collection is part of true restructuring, I said I never believe in total restructuring; I believe in administrative restructuring,” he said.

Be your brothers’ keeper, Ebonyi gov tells Southern colleagues

Umahi said a number of states would collapse should VAT collection move from the federal to the subnationals.

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