Our plans to end double taxation in FCT - DOAS boss
The FCT Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage, DOAS and the Abuja Municipal Area Council AMAC have in recent times been embroiled in legal tussle over which arm of government has the right to collect revenues from outdoor advertisers. The director of the DOAS, Dr. Babagana Adam, in this interview discloses how the issue was resolved and how he intends to block further leakages in the system. Sarah NEGEDU brings excerpts from the interview:
How have you been able to resolve the recent feud over revenue collection between AMAC and DOAS?
I think with the intervention of the honourable Minister of FCT, the Minister of State and permanent secretary as well as the executive secretary of FCDA, we have been able to manage the situation and I think the situation is under control.
You see, the Abuja Municipal Area Council chairman wrote a letter to honourable minister stating that they now recognize the agreement which we entered in 2012, that is the bye law that was gazetted that DOAS is responsible for outdoor advertisement and signage within the federal capital territory, so I think that has been established and the relationship is very smooth except that there is some remnants that the private consultant is still collecting levies. You know we cannot eliminate a problem overnight. It takes time to heal the leakages that our revenue system in FCT had experienced.
Our responsibility at DOAS is beyond revenue collection, we also have the duty to ensure standardization of regulation and control, as well as taking care of our environment and signage to ensure safety. It is not about IGR alone.
So are you saying that the feud between DOAS and AMAC has now been resolved?
I can tell you that there is no feud between DOAS and the area council the problem is between the private companies that are revenue consultant. The people who attacked my staff and I the other day were not even AMAC staff, they are people who claimed to be collecting revenue for AMAC, they claimed to be AMAC staff saying they have the backing of the AMAC.
They are private companies claiming concession to collect the same revenue that DOAS are collecting. If you look at it critically this is not a problem of AMAC, almost all the local government of each state have consultants or private companies collecting money from people in form of helping the aArea council to collect revenue.
I think the area council has to be careful with the companies they deal with. I think what we are experiencing in AMAC is the overzealousness of such private companies, because to them, the more they collect, the more percentage they get in return.
The truth is, these monies we collect are shared. If we collect N100 for instance, AMAC and the other 5 area council collect N60 while DOAS and FCT collects N20 each, so if you look at it they still collect the lion share. That 60percent for area councils is further shared and AMAC gets the lion share of 40percent. DOAS and FCTA only gets 40percent of the total revenue generated, the area councils get the lion share. So what is the problem?
“For instance, of the recent revenue we generated, N305million that was shared in January, AMAC got N73million, the five other area councils got N22million each, so you see, N183 million went to the six area council. DOAS and FCTA only got N61 million each.
How then can issues of multiple taxation as it concerns outdoor advertisement be resolved once and for all?
Usually they say when two elephants fights the grass suffers, but in the case of DOAS and AMAC, the grass did not suffer because a lot of agents and practitioners evaded payment. When either we or AMAC goes to collect revenue, they will say they have paid to the other or even ask us to go and resolve our issues before they will start making payment. So you see, some advertisers actually enjoyed the conflict while it lasted even though it cost us millions of naira.
Going forward what we intend to do is, if any of the area council collects advert revenues directly from agents and practitioners, we will calculate all the monies they have collected through the back door then deduct that amount from the allocation due to them. That way the area councils will realise that there is no point using their own resources to collect revenues themselves when they can just allow DOAS do the collection and give them the percentage due to them.
DOAS as an establishment of the law does not do double taxation. If an agent claims to have made payment to area councils, we investigate and track such claims. But where the money goes to private hands with no evidence of such payment made into area councils’ accounts then such a business will have to bear the consequences, but where they have prove of payment we simply make deductions before paying allocations to that area council.
Are you looking to sitting down and fine-tuning some of the grey areas between AMAC and DOAS?
AMAC constitutionally has the powers, like the local government areas, to collect revenue on outdoor advertisement. But there was a memorandum of understanding, MoU, gazetted bye law where the six area council all agreed to give the rights of collecting revenue from outdoor advertisement to DOAS.
But AMAC came out with a publication saying that they only willed parts of the rights to DOAS and not....
AMAC is constitutional is saddled with the responsibilities of outdoor advertisement and signages, like all the local government area in the country. In Abuja the, area council just like Lagos state advertisement and signages (LASA) entered an agreement and signed an MOU which was gazetted bye law stating that they have donated this constitutional rights to DOAS.
Those advertisement you are talking about was planted by the consultant of the Abuja municipal trade area council. Those are the people creating problems for us and attacking our staff.
The area councils donated the right to collect advert revenue through the gazette and MOU and DOAS just like we have River State Advertisement and Signage, RISA, there is in Cross River, Akwaibom, Kano, Niger and a couple of other states.
Because of the capacity needed to collect this money, some of them came together and signed the MOU willing that right to their state governments, so you see it is no longer their mandate, the mandate has been given and there are processes involved if they want to reverse it, the process is in the MOU. Any of the area councils that wants to reverse this agreement will have to do that legally by giving three month notice to FCT and DOAS.
Are the taxes collected from market women allowed by law?
Yes I think in all level of local government area there are levies that need to be paid for space in market area. There are about 22 revenue sources for local government which includes taxes for packing and loading, fumigation and sanitation radio and television among several others.
The local government in Nigeria are so much blessed. Area councils like AMAC, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and even to some extent Kwali and Abaji have the capacity to generate more revenue, but issues of out-sourcing this collection to others does not allow them to maximize their potentials. Why do they do the outsourcing? Most times it is because of lack of capacity so whatever they are collecting from the market women are recorded because is just the style of collection.
We also have to agree that in Nigeria we don't like paying taxes, but most developed countries in the world don’t joke with their taxes, in fact in some of those countries one of the greatest offence is tax evasion because that is what nations live on.
How do you intend to block some of the revenue leakages in your department?
In mobile advertisement I intend to come out with my team with IT coded ways of revenue collection, we want to give tokens, like the ones they give in the bank. We will then have a sticker, that way we don't have to stop your car on the way because it is branded, the moment we hand over to you card reader that is given to u like a token once u come we can analysis it through the Abuja geographical information system we can analysis which is the route that anybody that comes into Abuja will have to follow?
You know we have the Kaduna route, through the Zuba axis, Lafia and Keffi axis, Kogi axis. So if we block certain road within the city with our name and stickers we would not have to stop such vehicle because we know he has paid already.
© 2015 The Abuja Inquirer | Newspaper. Designed by G E Springfield