BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has blamed non-discretionary tax waivers, illicit financial outflows and high overhead costs for its failure to meet tax revenue targets in recent times.
Consequently, the Service is advocating official caution in granting tax waivers, even as it vowed to promote and sustain effective partnership with relevant government agencies to stem illicit financial flow, especially profit shifting by multinationals operating in the country.
Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami, who offered this insight at a Senate interactive session with revenue generating agencies, said huge loses through these windows have adversely affected the nation’s revenue profile in recent years.
“Nigeria loses a lot of revenue through tax waivers granted to big companies, which otherwise would have been taxed to buoy up government revenue”, Mr Nami lamented.
According to him, the disturbing income losses are further aggravated by illicit financial flow from the country, adding; “Coupled with this is the operational cost of the FIRS which is also high compared to the statutory provisions for the running of the organization.”
“I am new in the FIRS but upon my assumption of office, I have discovered that these, among other factors, contributed to making the FIRS unable to meet its target in recent times”, the Service boss said.
The FIRS Chief Executive however sought the National Assembly’s assistance and support in the task of improving government revenue towards the modernization of public infrastructure in the country.
In his remarks, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, who chaired the session, challenged all revenue-generating agencies to work on raising their game in order to address the country’s dwindling “revenue profile”.
Senator Lawan further said; “We believe that revenue generating agencies of government can do better. The National Assembly wants to help you in terms of legislative support and even with some incentives to ensure that your targets are met.
“Revenue agencies must meet their targets. They must aim higher. When they are not able to meet their targets, we ask them questions. There should be no reason why targets should not be met. But if anyone has any reason, we can also listen to him to know how genuine it is.”
In his intervention at the well-attended session, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola, said; “It is our belief that revenue accruable to the government will increase when we have interactive sessions like this regularly.
“This interactive session is going to hold quarterly. But subsequently, we will have the sessions in smaller groups to enable better interactions”, he said
A statement by the Director, Communications and Liaison Department of FIRS, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, stated that ongoing the engagement of revenue generating agencies with the upper legislative chamber aims at improving Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Federal Government through non-oil revenue sources.