James Ojo and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has said it would probe the $30 billion annual revenue leakages linked to tax evasion, malpractices in foreign exchange allocation to companies from the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) for the importation of goods, payment of services, foreign loans and others.
The House, yesterday, mandated its committees on Finance and Banking Currency to investigate the various originating documents maintained by the CBN, local banks, foreign exchange dealers, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS),importers and other beneficiary companies involved in forex allocation from the apex bank.
This followed the adoption of a motion by the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Abiodun Faleke, at yesterday’s plenary.
The committees are expected to identify perpetrators based on verifiable documents from valuable records and determine the amount of revenue involved in the alleged malpractices by each organisation based on every revenue line item collectible by the agencies of government.
They are to report back to the House in 12 weeks with recommendations on how to put a stop to the alleged malpractice in future.
Faleke, in his lead debate, informed the House that in recent years, the country had not been able to fund the capital component of the Appropriation Act due to paucity of funds occasioned by low remittances by revenue generating agencies, low payment of taxes by private companies and alleged diversion of expected revenue by corporate organisations.
“There is the urgent need to rescue the country from over $30 billion annual revenue leakages arising from tax evasion, malpractices, mis-use and diversion of foreign exchange allocations by companies and other entities. The crude oil price bench mark in 2020 appropriation act was put at $57 per barrel but the price of crude oil in the international market has dropped to $47 per barrel, this clearly indicates that the major source of revenue towards funding the 2020 appropriation act is already in the negative,” Faleke said.
Meanwhile, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Office of Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) are set to audit the books of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
According to Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the two agencies, the scrutiny will be extended to other revenue generating agencies.
Prof. Owasanoye said a radical problem requires a radical solution.
“What we are doing today is to formalize the relationship that has been incubating for some months in order to deal with corruption which has set Nigeria back.”
Prof. Owasanoye also reiterated the three-pronged mandate of the Commission as being investigation/prosecution; carrying out preventive measures through systems review of government agencies and public education.