FG decries non-remittance of taxes by lottery operators

The Federal Government has expressed concern over non-remittance of taxes by lottery operators in the country, saying the fund is a veritable source of income to the government.
Senator George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, said this on Tuesday in Abuja during an interactive meeting with the lottery operators and stakeholders in the lottery commissions.
Akume explained that the proceeds from lottery businesses could go a long way to boost the country’s economy, in line with the policy of the Federal Government to lift over one million Nigerians out of poverty.
He said: “Two things are involved here: the operators are supposed to remit to the commission; commission is expected to transmit part of the proceeds to the trust fund.
“And the operators are not doing it and I think that regulation is weak, that is why we are meeting here, and monies that are outstanding are going to be recovered.
“We are going to take up this matter and we have some documentation to that effect.
“We are going to take it up and be serious with it, so that what is owed the government will be paid back to the government.”
According to the minister, the lottery industries in Nigeria have grown from the cradle to the level it is today.
Akume said: “There is need to collaborate with the government with the understanding that they have shared goals in the system.
“Your industry is a huge one, no matter the imperfection, which has been observed and which has also been deliberately created by some practitioners.”
Akume, however, on the challenges of bulky taxations earlier tabled before him by the lottery operators, assured them of the Federal Government’s intervention over such taxation in the system.
Earlier, some of the lottery operators and their representatives had decried double taxations from both Federal and the States Government, which had posted a lot of challenges to them.
Speaking on their behalf, Usman Tajudeen, General Manager Western Lotto Nigeria Limited, expressed dissatisfaction over such treatment, which he said was difficult for lottery practitioners in Nigeria.
According to Tajudeen, the operators have problem with double taxation.
He said: “The double taxation has got different faces – the states are taxing the operators, the federal is also doing the same, using the same name.
“Now you cannot operate in the state without obtaining licence from the state, even when you have gotten the Federal Government’s licence; it is a big problem.
“Different from that, there is federal inland tax, there are other taxes that you need to pay and as a lottery company, you do not have that margin.
“If you comply by all of these, believe sincerely you will be in negative you can’t survive it and that brings me to one of the reasons why I have this impression that the operators are finding ways to actually remain in business.”
Also in his contribution, Christopher Etta, Chairman, National Lottery Trust Fund, explained that from his experience, there was some level of insincerity in remitting taxes by lottery operators in the country.
Etta described the practice as unfortunate, but he believed that with their engagement with the minister, the outstanding debt would be settled for progress and transparency in the system.
He said: “I just believe that there is insincerity that is why most of these remittances have not been met.
“But we believe that with this engagement and then with the minister’s commencement, the outstanding must be return and we believe that we are going to make some progress.”