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FG Engages Experts to Track Tax Evaders’ Assets

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  • FG Engages Experts to Track Tax Evaders’ Assets

The Federal Government has engaged an asset recovery firm to track the exact assets of tax defaulters that fail to take advantage of its nine months amnesty period under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme.

The VAIDs programme offers a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 for tax defaulters to voluntarily pay back what they owe to the government.

In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties and interest that should have been paid by the defaulters on overdue tax.

Also, those who declare honestly will not be subjected to any investigation or tax audit after the grace period.

Nigeria is said to have one of the lowest tax compliance rates in the world with a tax-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio currently standing at six per cent.

Top government officials involved in the implementation of VAIDS confided in our correspondent that those who might fail to take advantage of the scheme and later found to have under-declared their incomes or assets would be treated as wilful tax evaders and face the full wrath of the law.

The official said apart from prosecution, the government had agreed to provide the public with identities of tax evaders under a “name and shame programme” after the expiration of the nine-month amnesty period.

The official said, “Specifically, we have engaged one of the world’s leading asset tracking and recovery firms who will track the true assets of those who have not participated but are believed to have underpaid their taxes.

“This will be supported by criminal prosecution, and recovery of taxes due with full penalties and interest. In addition, we plan a ‘Name and Shame’ programme that will reveal the identities of tax evaders.”

Furthermore, the official said the Federal Inland Revenue Service was currently profiling some categories of non-compliant taxpayers for ongoing audits and investigations, in line with the tax compliance reforms.

He urged taxpayers to make the most of the limited-time opportunity available under the scheme to declare their incomes and assets, and pay their outstanding taxes.

Attempts to get comments from the spokesperson for the FIRS, Mr. Wahab Gbadamosi, were not successful as calls and a text message sent to his telephone were not responded to.

The Federal Government on Thursday commenced a campaign to drive the rate of voluntary tax compliance in the country in order to boost the level of revenue generated through taxes.

The campaign, which was launched at the headquarters of the ministry of finance in Abuja, saw top officials in the ministry as well as the FIRS visiting markets and other popular places within the Federal Capital Territory to sensitise the people to the need for voluntary tax compliance.

The awareness campaign is part of measures to implement last week’s directive issued by Acting President Prof Yemi Osinbajo that every Thursday should be celebrated as a tax day to sensitise Nigerians to the benefits of taxation.

The Chairman, FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, who led the campaign in Abuja, said the tax awareness programme would be taken to all the 36 states of the federation.

He said that the campaign would continue for the next one year as declared by Osinbajo at the launch of the VAIDS.

He was optimistic that the campaign would raise the level of tax awareness and result in massive enrolment of new tax payers.

Fowler said, through the programme, the Federal Government hoped to bring fresh four million taxpayers into the tax net as well as increase the level of payment among the 14 million already registered taxpayers.

He said, “The only way we can make Nigeria sweet is to start paying our taxes. We have come out with the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme programme, which gives everybody the opportunity to come out and declare their income and pay their contribution to ensure that Nigeria becomes a better place.

“I’m sure that if we all contribute, Nigeria will become the Nigeria of our dreams, the Nigeria that is prosperous and conducive to live in. Let’s join hands together to realise this dream by paying taxes.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial market.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Main Refineries Record N406.62bn Loss in Two Years

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Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Warri Refinery posts N406.62bn Deficit in Two Years

Nigeria’s three main refineries recorded N406.62 billion loss in two years, according to the audited financial statements from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The three refineries located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, however, the refineries have continued to function below the installed capacity.

The audited report showed the Kaduna refinery posted N64.34 billion loss in 2018, better than the N111.89 billion loss reported in 2017.

While Warri refinery filed N44.44 billion loss for 2018, also better than the N81.60 billion loss posted in 2017.

Port Harcourt refinery reported N45.59 billion loss in 2018, down from N55.76 billion loss posted in 2017.

The Nigerian government has spent billions of US dollars in maintaining and trying to improve the dilapidated refineries over the years. However, because of the inability of the three refineries to meet daily petrol demands of the Nigerian people, the Federal Government resulted to importation that has eroded the nation’s foreign reserves.

A recent report from the NNPC showed that Nigeria spent N2.37 trillion on petrol importation between May 2019 and May 2020 despite the nation struggling with falling foreign reserves due to low oil prices.

The weak foreign reserves has disrupted the nation’s economic outlook and weighed on the Nigerian Naira. The Naira has been devalued by 15 percent this year and was recently adjusted from N360 per US dollar exchange rate to N380/US$ for importers and investors to ease pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves.

Last week, at a summit organised by Seplat, Mallam Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, said the three refineries were all idle despite the money being spent on them.

In Nigeria today, we are importing practically every petroleum product that we consume in this country.

“We are working to make sure that we are able to fix our refineries,” Kyari stated.

All hopes are now on Dangote’s refinery.

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and the world’s richest black man, is presently constructing a 650,000 barrels per day refinery.

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Osinbajo Says FG Plans to Create 5 Million Jobs

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FG to Create 5m Jobs from Strategic Investments in Manufacturing, Agriculture

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said the Federal Government plans to create at least 5 million jobs in the next few years.

Osinbajo, who spoke at the Virtual Presidential Policy Dialogue Session organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the Buhari-led administration is focused on job creation.

He, therefore, stated that this would be achieved with strategic investments in key sectors like the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

The Vice President said, “We are to create jobs and boost our national housing programme. We would be intentional in the support of manufacturers in using our local raw materials. We are seriously engaging the use of cement in building our roads, as it will be cheaper for us and more durable.

“We are targeting electrification of five million households with solar power, and we are supporting SMEs, especially in the pharmaceuticals to enhance the production of personal protective equipment.”

Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, the President of LCCI, who also spoke at the event, expressed concerns over the failure of the Nigerian Customs Service to adhere to the Executive Order which forbids Customs checkpoints around the ports and within given geographical delimitations in the country.

She also noted the slow pace of reforms in the oil and gas sector, one of the nation’s main sectors. According to her, the oil and gas sector was another cause for worry, saying up till now the PIB passed has not been signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to her, “Closure of the land borders has enormous implications for cross border economic activities around the country. The indications are now that the closure is indefinite. While we share the concern of government on issues of security and smuggling, we believe that the indefinite closure of land borders is not the solution to the problem.

“We are excited about the signing of the AFCTA. But we need to get ourselves ready for the pressure of competition inherent in the continental economic integration agenda. A number of commitments were made about the creation of an environment that would enable the private sector to be competition ready. But not much has happened in this regard so far.

“We are aware of the efforts of government to fix our infrastructure, including roads and railways, but funding has remained a major challenge. We would like to see a new funding model with much bigger focus on private sector capital within a Public Private Partnership [PPP] framework for infrastructure development in the country.

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Fuel Scarcity: NUPENG to Commence Strike on Monday

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Lagosians Should Brace for Fuel Scarcity as NUPENG Embarks on Strike

Nigerians should brace for fuel scarcity as the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) directed all petroleum tanker drivers to withdraw their services from Lagos State starting from Monday, 10 August 2020.

In a statement released by NUPENG on Friday, the union said the directive followed the failure of various authorities in Lagos State to address three major issues that had impacted the operations of petroleum tanker drivers in the state for several months.

The statement signed by the National President, Williams Akporeha and the General Secretary, Olawale Afolabi, NUPENG and titled title ‘NUPENG leadership directs withdrawal of services by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State with effect from Monday, August 10, 2020,’ noted that members of the union are frustrated and pained by the barrage of challenges faced while carrying out their activities in Lagos State.

NUPENG said, “The entire rank and file members of the union are deeply pained, frustrated and agonised by the barrage of these challenges being consistently faced by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State and are left with no other option but to direct the withdrawal of their services in Lagos State until the Lagos State Government and other relevant stakeholders address these critical challenges.

“It is sad and disheartening to note here that we had made several appeals and reports to the Lagos State Government and the Presidential Task Force for the decongestion of Apapa on these challenges but all to no avail.

NUPENG listed the major challenges faced by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State as extortion and harassment by various security agents and, area boys’ (miscreants).

This menace must stop and the leadership of these security operatives in Lagos State must go all out to call their men to order with immediate effect.

The Union added that it is sad that the security agents who were expected to ensure the free flow of traffic and protection of road users were the same people using their uniforms and arms to intimidate, harass and extort money from petroleum drivers in Lagos State.

Therefore, it said it had embarked on an indefinite strike to force the Lagos State Government to address the situation.

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