A former Minister of State for the Interior, Chief Demola Seriki, says that in the face of the dwindling price of crude oil, churches and mosques that own businesses should pay tax to the government.
Seriki, who was also a supervising Minister of Mines and Steel under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration, said this during an interview with a Punch correspondent yesterday.
The ex-minister’s call came less than a week after the Federal Government announced that N50 would be deducted from money deposited into any customer’s account as part of the efforts to boost government’s revenue in the face of the dwindling oil price.
He said religious bodies, especially churches, had built large business empires including universities but many of them were not paying tax.
The ex-minister said the wealth being made from these businesses was used in buying private jets with the government losing out.
He explained that some churches even had rented apartments in their various camps but were not paying land use charge to the government.
He said, “Places of worship such as churches and mosques should not pay tax but when they go into investment outside their main focus, they must pay tax. For example, there are some churches that are into importing and exporting and they are benefitting from the economy.
“You cannot do that without paying tax. They are not paying now. They use the name of the church to escape paying tax. This is wrong.
“Some churches have hundreds of houses in their various camps which they rent out but they don’t pay tax to the government because they are registered as religious organisations and are not paying tax. So, we must change our tax laws.”