House of Representatives and stakeholders in the communication sector yesterday proposed financial autonomy for Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) to meet international best practices.
At a public hearing on the bills to repeal the Nigerian postal service Act and to amend the stamp duties Act, conducted by the House Committee on Telecommunications, participants also seek to give NIPOST the enabling environment to measure up with the advanced postal administration.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the Committee, Saheed Akinade-Fijabi, said with the passage of the bills, NIPOST would be well positioned for the realisation of the federal government financial inclusion programme, which seeks to provide access to the unbanked and under-banked rural communities as key to poverty alleviation.
He explained that the dwindling oil revenue and the current global recession necessitated the need for the nation to diversify its economy.He said: “The two (2) Bills seek to give NIPOST the enabling environment to measure up with the advanced postal administration in the deployment of its infrastructure and human resources as well as attainment of financial autonomy to meet international best practices.
“The dwindling oil revenue and the current global recession have necessitated the need for Nigeria to diversify its economy especially for the present administration to achieve its change agenda. And NIPOST is believed to be one of such key agency.”
Representing the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, the Post Master General of NIPOST, Barr. Bisi Adegbuyi noted that most of the laws regulating the agency were obsolete, adding that there were five core-challenging issues, which necessitated the amendment of the extant Act.
Asked if the use of an adhesive postage/electronic stamp to denote a document or receipt or registrable instrument, amount to the payment of stamp duty tax? The Minister said no, adding, “denoting a document or receipt or registrable instrument is not the payment of a stamp duty tax.”
He also said that the provision of adhesive postage/electronic stamps by NIPOST does not infringe on the powers of the Federal Inland Revenue Services or a State Inland Revenue Service to access, collect and receipt the payment of stamp duty tax.
The Minister pointed out that the punishment contained in the law were no longer relevant, adding, “of what use is a N20:00k fine or a N200:00k fine when the cost of prosecuting the offender is on the average N100,000:00k.”
Shittu said that amendment such as the internet and the Point of Sale (POS)) machine have been captured as receipting medium, whose electronically generated receipts are to be denoted, adding that financial penalties have been introduced for a first offender, a second offender and a third or subsequent offender.
He said: “The proposed amendments if approved and implemented will unlock the revenue potential of the stamping Protocol to generate huge revenue for the benefits of all the tiers of government.
“The suggested amendments will also end the interagency rivalry, which is militating against the effective implementation of the stamping protocol. The amendments are recommended for the consideration and approval in the overall interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Leader of the coalition of civil society in the communication sector, Comrade Razaq Olokeba also hailed the initiative, saying it would help in repositioning the service.