The Senate on Tuesday passed the Nigerian Postal Service (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill, 2021, which effectively restricted the agency to only postal operations in the country.
The Bill also unbundled the agency by creating a commission to regulate its affairs.
The lingering controversy between NIPOST and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as to who is statutorily empowered to collect Stamp Duties on behalf of the Federal Government also appeared to have been laid to rest in favour of FIRS as there is no provision in the Bill as to who will collect the tax.
Section 2 subsection 1-3 of the Bill however effectively barred NIPOST from engaging in tax collection.
The section reads: “There is hereby established a body to be known as the Nigerian Postal Service (hereby designated as the Public Postal Operator) which (a) shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal…
“The Postal Operator shall be charged with the responsibility of providing Universal Postal Service in Nigeria.
“In carrying out its Universal Postal Service Obligations, the provisions of any enactment, law or regulation relating to the taxation of companies, agencies or trusts funds shall not apply to the Public Postal Operator save for its obligation as a collecting agent of Government.”
Also passed during the plenary was a Bill to enact the Medical and Dental Practitioners Bill to establish the Medical and Dental Professions in Nigeria.
The passage of both bills followed the clause-by-clause consideration of two separate reports by the Senate Committees on Communications and Health.
The reports were considered after being presented by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and Chairman Senate Committee on Health Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) respectively.
Giving a highlight of the NIPOST Bill, Tinubu said sub-clause (1)(a) under clause 3 which deals with the Establishment and Membership of the Governing Board of the Public Postal Operator was amended to give the Governing Board power to formulate policies and adopt strategies for the overall development of the postal sector.
She added that sub-clause (1)(b) was deleted as the Board cannot borrow or raise funds for the entity while sub-clause (1)(c) was amended to align with existing legislation.
According to the Lagos Central lawmaker, clause 5(2) was also inserted to specify the minimum qualifications for the appointment of the Postmaster-General.
Tinubu further said that clause 8 which deals with the Application of Pensions Act was amended to align with the Pension Act.
In addition, clause 10 which provide for the Exclusive Powers of the Public Postal Operator was amended to enable the Public Postal Operator to accredit digital or e-certificate as appropriate.
Among other amendments made to the NIPOST Act 2004, was an amendment to clause 15 which deals with National Postcode System and Technical Standards.
The clause was amended to enable the Public Postal Operator, subject to existing legislation, to enter into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) or another similar arrangement to carry out any of its obligations.
During consideration of the report, the Senate amended sub-clause 3 to provide that, “the Minister may, with the approval of the President, at any time remove any member of the Board from office on the grounds of misconduct, conviction, infirmity or disease of the mind.”
The chamber also amended clause 5(1) to make the appointment of the Postmaster-General the exclusive prerogative of the President as against the recommendation of the Minister.
The amendments were made following a proposal to that effect by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) and seconded by the Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
Meanwhile, the Senate also on Tuesday received the report of the Committee on Public Accounts on the Annual report of the Auditor-General for the Federation on the accounts of the Federation for the year ended 31st December 2015.
The report was laid during the plenary by the Committee’s Chairman, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South).