AS FIRS UNDER NAMI JUMPSTARTS THE ECONOMY
The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, as we know it is the federal government agency charged with mobilizing revenues through tax collections across the length and breadth of Nigeria for the development of the country. At a time when the country is witnessing a significant reduction in oil revenues (Nigeria’s major revenue earner) as a result of several factors, such as low levels of oil production, oil theft and the global oil glut, the Buhari administration has had to devise creative ways of generating revenues for the execution of numerous government projects.
With this policy direction and initiative, the Federal Inland Revenue Service took the challenge to bridge the yawning revenue gap. In doing this they expanded the tax net to include several profit-making companies and organisations which had prior to the emergence of the Buhari administration played artful dodgers in tax payments and remittances. Of course the FIRS also introduced other innovative measures which have today raised the tax revenue profile to N10.1trillion in 2022 from a low of N5trillion when he assumed office in 2019.
Suffice it to say that the increase in tax collections has remained stable and consistent since Alhaji Muhammed Nami assumed the leadership of the FIRS as the Executive Chairman. As an expert in tax administration he realized the federal government’s predicament in sourcing for funds that will help rejuvenate an economy buffeted by the vagaries of the sharp drop in global oil prices. Therefore, as the price of oil kept plummeting at the international market, Muhammed Nami along with his management team took the gauntlet by quickly adorning their thinking caps and worked round the clock to help the Buhar administration deliver on its mandate and campaign promises to the Nigerian people.
Since then the FIRS started witnessing a steady increase in tax collections, and the result is that Nigeria was able to survive the shocks associated with the unpredictable oil market. Simply put, the FIRS became the first federal government agency to achieve tangible results in the federal government’s revenue diversification policies.
To put the monumental feat achieved by the FIRS with the realization of N10.1 trillion in tax collection within a period of one year in a proper perspective, it is pertinent to take a cursory look at the following four years figures of tax collection in the country and they clearly show how the Nami-led FIRS has fared under an inclement economic weather.
In 2019, the agency realized N5.32 trillion; in 2020 the agency netted N4.9 trillion, this was the year that the COVID pandemic dealt a hard blow to the global economy; in 2021, the Service collected N6.45trillion, which was as at then the highest ever collected and over 100% of its collection target; while in 2022, it achieved the jaw-breaking highest tax collection ever of N10.1trillion.
Perhaps, one interesting aspect of this report is the increase in non-oil collection achieved by the Service. Non-oil collection stood at N5.96 trillion, while oil collection was N4.09trillion. Before now Nigeria was helplessly dependent on oil revenues, and the reality is that the country was in no advantageous position to control or influence the impact of changes of oil prices on our national economy.
The implication of these increases is that the FIRS has innovatively widened the scope of collectible taxes in Nigeria as well as applied an aggressive tax drive, and the result is that while oil prices were staggering across the globe, and to the detriment of oil-producing countries including Nigeria, the FIRS provided the financial succor that has helped Nigeria’s economy to withstand the debilitating impact and the federal government placed in a position to carry out its mandate of rendering service to the people.
By Chukwudi Enekwechi, JP
“Nigeria College of Taxation and Fiscal Studies” Bill Passes Second Reading
A bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria College of Taxation and Fiscal Studies passed its Second Reading last week at the Senate.
The presentation of the Bill was made by Senator Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi CON on the floor of the Senate Tuesday last week, where he noted that the institution, if established would provide professional and academic training as well as certification for tax administrators, tax practitioners and tax professionals across the country.
In his presentation, Senator Sabi, who represents Niger North Senatorial District of Niger State stated that the College had become necessary given the important role that taxation is playing in the nation’s economy, and that this institution would help formulate and draft tax policy for the country while addressing human capital gaps in the country’s tax industry.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that diversifying the sources of government revenue to focus on sustainable sources is inevitable. This diversification puts taxation at the centre of the revenue mobilization discussion; the attainment of this laudable objective would require tax experts who have been properly and adequately schooled to formulate tax policy, draft and interpret tax legislation, carry on private tax practice, and administer taxation in the modern era.
“In view of the constant shift in the social, technological and business environment, with direct impact on the tax system, it is is important to have skills, competence, and adaptable personnel to man the tax system. There must be a conscious development of the field of taxation and fiscal policies in Nigeria to awake the society on the importance of taxation as a sine qua non to our development.
“Nigeria must go beyond the mere inclusion of taxation in the curriculum of educational institutions; instead the country must establish a modern system that facilitates the study of taxation via a well laid out academic curriculum, guided and focused by practical realities of Nigerian taxation and the revenue ecosystem,” he noted.
Senator Sabi further emphasised that the College would help in tackling the issue of lack of sufficient capacity of tax officers, which he noted has led to “the delegation of powers of revenue authorities to third parties, creating complications, multiplicity and uncertainty in the tax system,” and that it would correct “aggressive and orthodox methods for tax collection” while also carrying out a “regular review of obsolete tax laws that do not reflect modern realities.”
He noted that all these would help the country address its fiscal and revenue challenges and achieve the objectives of the National Tax Policy.
In his presentation, the distinguished Senator representing Niger North also cited that countries such as Kenya, Japan, India, Australia, Austria, Singapore, and Malaysia have established similar institutions for developing capacity in taxation, excise duty and customs and fiscal matters, and that this has impacted positively on their economy through significantly high tax-to-GDP ratios.
This College is expected to provide training for tax officials, including officers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Customs, sub-national revenue authorities, and even the general public. It is to consist of a main campus and 12 regional centres.
The Bill proposes that the College would be funded chiefly by the extant yearly subvention of the FIRS for training thus requiring no direct impact on government spending.
Senator Adamu Aliero representing Kebbi Central District, Kebbi State, commenting on the Bill noted that the only sustainable source of revenue for the Federation was taxation, and that the proposed College would train tax officials who would be instrumental to widening the country’s tax net.
He also added that there is currently no institution in Nigeria that offers specialised training in taxation.
NLC, CBN meet in Abuja over Cash scarcity
In less than 24 hours after the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, directed all its branches and affiliate unions to mobilize members for a shut down of all the branches of the Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN, across the country, over cash scarcity, the apex bank on Thursday evening met with the NLC at the Labour House Abuja.
Recall that the Comrade Joe Ajaero-led NLC, had on Wednesday while addressing journalists said that activities in all branches of the CBN nationwide and the Abuja headquarters will be shut down on Wednesday next due to the cash crunch in the country.
Comrade Ajaero had advised workers to stockpile food items as the industrial dispute with the CBN will be total.
He said Nigerians have been subjected to untold hardship occasioned by the scarcity of naira notes to attend to medical needs and other areas of need.
Vanguard gathered that the NLC threat to paralyze activities at the CBN necessitated the impromptu meeting which started at about 5 pm on Thursday.
The two man delegation made up of the CBN Deputy Gpvrrnor in charge of operations and the Deputy Governor in charge of Economic Pokicy, told the NLC President that about two billion naira was pushed out on Thursdsy in a bid to address the hardship.
A source privy to the meeting told Vanguard that the CBN promised to ensure that the scarcity of naira notes will come to an end as quickly as possible.
“They said the money they pushed out today is equivalent to the whole money pushed out within the week. They also promised to work day and night starting from this night to ensure that there is enough money in the banks,” the source said.
He further said that the CBN denied the allegation that it was printing money out of the country and that the Governor, Godwin Emefiele has directed that the old naira notes should be made available to customers.
Besides, the source denied the allegation that the old naira notes have been burnt, assuring that there will be remarkable improvement in few days to come.
It was gathered that the NLC President, Comrade Ajaero told the CBN delegation that he was not interested in how much that was pushed out, but only interested in seeing that workers and other Nigerians collect their money in banks without stress..
“The President told them that it does not bother us how much they pushed out, our concern is to see that this hardship comes to a stop.
“He also told them that they should work day and night to solve the problem and will depend on the feedback from the average Nigerians who go to the banks to make withdrawals whether there is improvement before Wednesday next week NLC planned to picket the apex bank ,” the source said.
When contacted, the NLC President, Comrade Ajaero, confirmed the meeting and said that the interest of the leadership is to see that Nigerians are able to withdraw their money devoid of the hardship they are passing through.
“We will only know that they are serious when we see improvement,” he added.
EFCC Arraigns FCMB Manager Over N55Million Overdraft Fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned one Kichime Gomwalk, a bank manager and two others for alleged fraud.
Gomwalk of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited were arraigned on Tuesday before Justice P. S. Gang of the Plateau State High Court Jos.
The accused persons were arraigned on five counts bordering on stealing, cheating and obtaining by false pretence money to the tune of N55,000.000.00 (fifty-five million naira).
Gomwalk, while serving as the manager of the bank’s branch at Murtala Mohammed Way in Jos, the Plateau State capital, was alleged to have forged COCIN Gratuity Certificate of Pledge/Letter of Set-Off dated December 30, 2019, purportedly co-signed by Mrs. Monica Bitrus Tang and Rev (Dr.) Amos Musa Mohzo, Directors.
It was allegedly used to secure an overdraft facility from FCMB Plc to the tune of N55 million with COCIN Gratuity account number 100GOMWALK379 domiciled with FCMB Plc.
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