FIRS rejects tax to fund child online protection law

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye
House of Reps

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), on Tuesday, opposed the proposed imposition of a new tax on businesses to fund the Child Online Access Protection Bill.

Speaking at a public hearing organised by the house of representatives committee on justice, Zacch Adedeji, chairman of FIRS, who was represented by Mathew Osanekwu from the tax policy and advisory department, said if the bill becomes law, instead of introducing new taxes as a funding source, it should be funded through appropriation.

“The impression we have is that the funding will be through a levy. We already have eight different levies, and I advised that the funding should come by way of appropriation,” he said.

Olumide Osoba, chairman of the committee, said urgent regulations are needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children on the internet.

The committee chairman said the bill not only recognises the potential harm of online violence to young people, but also seeks to implement effective measures to prevent and address such occurrences.

“The safety and wellbeing of our children in this digital age should be our utmost priority, and I commend your efforts to address the issue of online violence and protect our young ones from its harmful effects,” Osoba said.

“The internet has undoubtedly revolutionised our society, connecting people from all walks of life and providing countless opportunities for learning, growth and entertainment.

“However, it also brings with it risks, particularly for the vulnerable minds of the online world. The internet has unfortunately given rise to various forms of violence, including cyberbullying, harassment, and even exploitation.

“As responsible members of this society, we must ensure that our children are shielded from such harm.

“By setting up regulations to restrict access to harmful content, imposing stricter penalties for perpetrators, and promoting digital literacy programmes, we can create a safer online environment for our children to explore and thrive in.”

The legislator said by “empowering” children with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the online world safely, we can “actively engage them in their own protection”.

“This bill demonstrates an understanding that prevention and awareness are equally essential components in countering online violence,” he said.

“Moreover, this bill recognises the need for collaborative efforts between parents, educators, internet service providers and the government.

“By ensuring a holistic approach to the issue, we can collectively work towards an internet culture that promotes empathy, respect, and understanding, rather than one that fosters violence and harm.

“We will not only safeguard our children’s wellbeing but also create a safer and more inclusive online space for all.”

Also speaking, Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house of representatives, who was represented by Usman Kumo, chief whip, said parents need to do anything to protect their children online.

“The protection of children on the internet cannot be over-emphasised because we are in a digital world,” he said.

“We must key into global best practices and our children must not be exposed to an extent where some people take advantage of them in abusing them.”

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