Senators, Reps clash over Finance Bill

It appears things did not go as planned following the decision of the finance committee of the House of Representatives not to attend a joint public hearing over dissenting views trailing the passage of the Finance Bill.

According to investigation, the representatives believed the Senate chose to conduct matters regarding the finance bill in secret, leading to resentment on the part of the members of the Finance Committee of the House of Representatives.

However, the truth of the matter is that members of the House of Representatives chose to boycott the joint hearing because they were informed late on Sunday evening after news of the hearing had widely circulated in the media.

A source from the House Committee protested the late notice, tagging it a matter of disrespect.

“There was a circular that we should not attend the public hearing. The Speaker too was only informed on Sunday about the hearing. So, we agreed not to be part of the hearing.

“The Senate treats us with disdain and this has to stop. We only heard about the hearing when we saw the adverts in the newspaper. This is an insult and this has to stop,” the source said.

The boycott has culminated into fear which could affect the passage of the 2020 Budget at the appropriate time.

“The leadership has directed us to be prepared for our own public hearing on the bill. After all, we have similar legislative powers with the Senate.

“Our fear now is that the development could threaten the passage of the 2020 budget this year because the amendments have to be included in the 2020 Appropriation bill,” the source added.

Notwithstanding whether the members from the lower chamber feel cheated or not, the members of the upper chamber still went ahead with the public hearing.

It can be recalled that Solomon Adeola, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance and convener of the public hearing, noted that a wide number of financial experts had expressed their discomfort towards the bill that could see a spike in Value Added Tax (VAT), Company Income Tax and other taxes.

Hence, the importance of the public hearing which was meant to comprise of both the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Finance to allow all parties to air their views concerning the bill.