By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The Presidency has ordered the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Babatunde Fowler, to come and explain today Monday, August 19, why there has been a continuous decrease in tax revenue collection in the last four years.
Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari had in a letter dated August 8, 2019, queried the FIRS chief executive of the over worsening tax collection since 2015.
The Chief of Staff said that the presidency “observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.”
Economic analysts have also confirmed that since 2015, the FIRS under Mr. Fowler has not been able to meet collection targets”which is a different trend from the preceding years.”
The Presidency while expressing concern by the variance, ”you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.”
In 2015, FIRS set N4.7 trillion target but was only able to make N3.7 trillion in the actual collection. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the target collections were N4.2 trillion, N4.8 trillion and N6.7 trillion but the actual collections were N3.3 trillion, N4.0 trillion and N5.3 trillion, respectively.
Fowler, a former chairman of Lagos State Revenue Board, was appointed FIRS boss in 2015, when President Buhari won his first term election.
He succeeded Samuel Odugbesan appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Breakdown of Nigeria’s tax statistics showed that before President Buhari and Mr. Fowler came in 2015, the only year FIRS could not meet its collection target was 2006 since the year 2000.
But in the query served Mr. Fowler, the presidency only mentioned 2012 to 2014.
“Further we have observed that actual collections for the period between 2015 and 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014,” stated Mr. Kyari.
IGP Orders Full Enforcement Against Naira Note Hawking
The Inspector-General of Police (I-G), Mr Usman Baba, has ordered full enforcement of the CBN Act, 2007 that criminalises the hawking and selling of naira notes.
The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
He ordered the arrest and prosecution of all individuals engaged in the sale or abuse of the Naira notes issued by the CBN.
Baba said the order was in line with the provisions of Sections 20 and 21 of the CBN Act, 2007 that criminalises amongst others, the hawking, selling or otherwise trading on the naira notes.
He directed all supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and Commissioners of Police in charge of Commands and Formations to carry out the full enforcement.
The I-G also ordered the placement of officers and men of the Force Criminal Investigations Department and the Force Intelligence Bureau on high alert.
He directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department and the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Force Intelligence Bureau to effect the order.
According to him, the order is in furtherance of the Federal Government’s policy and drive to uphold the provisions of the CBN Act, 2007 and dignify Nigeria’s currency.
He reiterated the mandate of the Nigeria Police Force to enforce all laws and regulations without prejudice to the enabling Acts of other security agencies.
Baba called on the public to cooperate with the Nigeria Police Force in the enforcement of the CBN Act against violators. (NAN)
NANTA Records $500m Revenue Loss in 2022
The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) on Friday said it recorded a loss of 500 million as revenue in 2022, due to drop in ticket sales.
Mrs Susan Akporiaye, NANTA’s National President, disclosed this during a media briefing held in Lagos on Friday.
Akporiaye said that there had been an appreciable decrease in ticket sales among its members as Nigerian travellers groan over exorbitant ticket fares.
She said foreign airlines operating in Nigeria had blocked all low ticket inventories on their websites and had continued to sell the highest inventories as passengers find it difficult to buy affordable tickets.
According to her, airfares has risen to over 400 per cent to all international destinations and this is as a result of the $550million trapped funds.
“The situation at hand has made Nigerian travellers to patronise agents in other African countries.
“Only less than 30 per cent tickets sold in Nigeria were done by local agents, with this, the Nigerian government is losing a lot of tax.
“To reduce the amount of money that would be trapped in Nigeria, the foreign airlines have also stopped local travel agents from issuing tickets emanating from other countries into Nigeria,” she said.
Akporiaye noted that the association was pained, anxious, and worried, considering the consequences of the job losses recorded.
She said the security risks to Nigerians travelling across borders to connect cheaper flghts was also worrisome.
“Also, the shame of a parallel dollar monetary policy in the travel sector
against established national naira monetary policy.
” We are also worried that none of our poitical parties have deemed it necessary to look at aviation economics, particularly, its homogeneous socio-economic and security opportunities.
“We advise the new government to followup keenly on Bilateral Air services Agreement (BASA) and other extant aviation laws which will open our economy to serious local and foreign investors, we are also remain available for consultation,” she said.
Earlier, Mr Yinka Olapade, NANTA’s National Auditor said that developments in the travel sector had gone so bad that over 720,000 job losses had also been recorded due to the irregularities in the system.
He said that the travel sector contributed over 3.6 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation in 2021 but this dropped drastically in 2022.
He however, urged the federal government to look into the problems in the industry to guide against monumental effect.
“This industry should be taken seriously, it is a goldmine that is capable of repositioning the nation in different capacities,” he said. (NAN)
Progressives Govs Meet Buhari Seek Another Extension for Naira Swap
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has met with the Progressives Governors Forum of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as they pleaded for the review of the redesigned currency notes to run concurrently with the old notes and gradually phased out due to the scarcity of cash in the country.
The President also urged citizens to give him seven days to resolve the cash crunch that has become a problem across the country from the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria to change high value Naira notes with new ones.
Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said the currency re-design will give a boost to the economy and provide long-term benefits while expressing doubts about the commitment of banks in particular to the success of the policy.
According to the Progressive Governors, the cash crunch was threatening the good records of the administration in transforming the economy.
The President also indicted some bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) on the scarcity of the naira notes in circulation, accusing them of selfishness and inefficiency.
“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves. Even if a year is added, problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away,” the President said.
He said he had seen television reports about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension will be used to crackdown on whatever stood in the way of successful implementation.
“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” Buhari assured.
The Governors told the President that, while they agreed that his decision on the renewal of currency was good and they are fully in support, its execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.
They told the President that, as leaders of the government and party in their different states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that are coming. They requested the President to use his powers to direct the concurrent flourish of the new and old notes till the end of the year.
The President said when he considered giving the approval to the policy, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes will be printed in a foreign country and they in turn gave him assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower, and equipment to print the currency for local needs. He said he needed to go back to find out what was happening.
President Buhari told the Governors that, being closer to the people, he had heard their cries and will act in a way that there will be a solution.
An unconfirmed report has it that some bank CEOs had taken a huge chunk of the new naira notes to the house of some politicians.
It was gathered that the APC Governors had expected to get a direct response from the President to allow both the old and new naira notes to circulate concurrently to ease the suffering of Nigerians.
The Governors met with President Buhari over the hardship Nigerians are facing as a result of the naira swap introduced by the CBN.
Briefing some journalists in the Hausa language, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, of Kaduna State, alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, mopped up over N2 trillion of the old note but printed only N300 billion, which he said was not enough and has contributed to the hardship the masses are facing.
el-Rufai, flanked by his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, said even if the CBN had wanted to implement the cashless policy, they should have printed at least half of what they mopped up, which is N1 trillion.
The governor said the Progressive governors had informed President Buhari that the masses are suffering and traders are losing their goods due to lack of patronage.
He gave the example of a tomato seller that travelled to Lagos with their goods but all got wasted because people have no money to buy, so they appealed to the president to reconsider his stance.
He said, “We the governors of the All Progressives Congress under the aegis of Progressive Governors Forum have met with the President and informed him about the issue that is bothering us and the problems the people are going through because of the currency redesign policy.
“The President explained to us what they have told him and we have seen that the Central Bank Governor (CBN) and the Minting and Printing did not tell Mr. President the truth about the things that are happening in the country.
“What’s the truth? Firstly, we are told that they have mopped up over N2 trillion of the old notes and printed only N300 billion of the new notes. Why will you retrieve such an amount of money and then print only N300 billion? That is why there are problems, the money is not enough.
“If you also look at some state and local governments that don’t have banks and the problems they are facing from POS. People don’t have money to buy things in the market, but they can’t go shopping, tomatoes sellers took their products to Lagos and could not sale till they spoiled.
“We have narrated all these issues to Mr. President and he said he will meet with CBN, other stakeholders, and even the deposit money banks. He will see what they will tell him before he takes a decision. But he didn’t indicate to us that this issue has ended, there will be no extension and he did not tell us that he will extend it.
“He only told us that until he gets certain about what is going on. We have told him about things that are happening in our states and the trouble people are encountering.
“Our fear is that, if there is no solution to this, it may cause a crisis and affect the general elections and the election may not even hold completely. The President said he will look into it.”
Asked what precisely the APC governors want the president to do, he said, “What we the governors want is to give an extension on this policy so that everyone can exchange his money. Because of N300 billion, there is no how it will be equal to N2 trillion. N1 trillion should be printed not N300 billion. The money is not enough that is the problem.
“Our advice is that both the old and new notes should be used until the old notes are gradually faced out. They should print new notes that will be enough, for now, they are not enough for circulation. Those who say the printed new notes are enough are telling lies to the President.”
Further asked on what he will tell those accusing him of looking for a godfather that is why he is criticizing the President, he said, “I don’t criticize President Buhari. I have never criticized President Buhari, it’s only those working with him who are telling him lies, they don’t tell him the truth, and they don’t tell him what the people are going through on these policies or decisions that are taken.
“What President Buhari brought, we support it. We know the reason he wants to do something but this thing they are not doing it right and they don’t tell him the right thing. We the true followers of Buhari are not using him to get money for shopping, we are mandated to tell him the truth, and that’s what we’ve done.
“President Buhari himself knows me, he knows how we have been together. All these allegations I’m used to hearing them. Which godfather am I looking for?
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our Presidential Candidate we want him to win the election. I have told Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu ten times I don’t want government work, I don’t want to work with him. He is the one saying he wants to work with them at all costs. I swear, I’m bigger than saying he is my godfather, I’m not seeking work, I’m not seeking shopping money, what I am seeking is from God and not man.”
el-Rufai said the president did not tell them yes or no, adding that the chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, and governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu, had gone back to meet the President privately with the hope to convince him.
However, the Kebbi state governor did not brief members of the State House Press Corps that had waited for him on the outcome of his meeting with the President.
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