From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service’s (FIRS), Tunde Fowler yesterday disclosed that the agency’s innovative strategies, with focus on non-oil sources has enabled the government rake in N2.5 trillion between January and August, 2017, despite the harsh economic climate.
Speaking at a public lecture organised by Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) Abuja branch to mark its 20th anniversary, Fowler said the non – oil revenue arteries contributed about 65 per cent, while oil revenue contributed 35 per cent to the revenue generated.
“ To close the gap in low oil tax revenue caused by the fall in the price of crude oil and the incessant destruction of oil and gas facilities in the south- south region, the service introduced innovative strategies to raise the revenue from non- oil sources”, he said.
On the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which commenced on July 1 this year, Fowler said the scheme was designed to encourage voluntary disclosure of previously undisclosed assets and income for the purpose of payment of all outstanding tax liabilities.
“The scheme is expected to help expand Nigeria’s tax base and therefore improve the low tax to GDP ratio from the current 6% to between 10% and 15%. It also seeks to curb the use of tax havens for illicit fund flow and tax avoidance “, he said.
He added that, the scheme will be implemented across the States in collaboration with the 36 state’s internal revenue services and that of Federal Capital Terr IRS.
The FIRS VAIDS program offers a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31,2018 for defaulting tax payers to voluntarily pay back to government what they owe.
Fowler confirmed that, the Service was able to bring 814,000 tax payers in to the tax net in 2016, a figure he said exceeded initial target of 500,000 new tax payers by 31st December, 2016.
Speaking on the occasion, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, said corruption was the single biggest challenge facing Nigeria.
Delivering a lecture on “Corruption and national development: Issues, challenges and solutions”, EFCC boss said that never in the history of the agency has corruption being fought in a manner it is being addressed by the EFCC, adding that with the successes so far recorded by the agency, the era of impunity was over.
“To state that Nigeria has all it takes to truly be the giant of Africa is to state the obvious. We are blessed with both human and mineral resources. But, why have we been unable to explore and exploit our potentials to the fullest? Corruption. Corruption is no doubt at the heart of why a media house will per it’s teeming staff members their salaries, despite their toil day and night to ensure the publication does not miss the light of day”.