Senate Begins Investigations Into Operations Of Tincan, Seme Area Commands

senateThe Nigerian Senate has commenced a thorough investigation into operations of the Tin-Can Island and Seme Area Commands, as part of efforts to plug leakages in the Nigeria Customs Service.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, Exercise and Tariff, Senator Hope Uzodinma, hinted reporters of the investigation during a three-day oversight visit to the various commands in Lagos.

According to him, the committee, with mandate from the Senate, embarked on the fact finding mission in view of several petitions received from stakeholders on alleged corrupt practices in the service.

He added that the Senate would continue to work to help reposition the Nigeria Customs Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in view of the need to focus on non-oil revenue generation to fund the country’s annual budget with a deficit of over 2 trillion Naira.

“There is now a national call to duty for all of us irrespective of where you are and where you are working from to come up and contribute your own quota so that the economy can be rescued.

“So, our target is to be able to triple the revenue earnings of Nigerian Customs in 2017 and to be able to do that we have to identify the obstacles otherwise the challenges confronting the Nigerian Customs Service so that once they are identified they will amplify, increase or enhance the revenue earning mechanism of the service so that by 2017 Nigerian Customs will be in the position to even fund the national budget.

“There are opportunities and the traffic is very high but some of the challenges are also avoidable so we are looking at all these areas and that at the end of the exercise, we would have strengthened the process of revenue generation in the Nigerian Customs Service and also boost their profile in a manner that they will be happy and government will be happy. It will be a win-win situation for everybody”.

Buhari Appoints New FIRS Chairman, DG Budget Office

muhammadu-Buhari-Nigeri-PresidentPresident Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Dr. William Babatunde Fowler as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Dr. Fowler was the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue from 2005 to 2014.

He had his higher education in the United States where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Business Administration degree from the California State University.

Before joining the service of the Lagos State Government, Dr. Fowler worked in the banking sector for about 20 years with long stints at Credit Lyonnais Nigeria Limited and Chartered Bank.

Under his leadership, the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue reportedly achieved a sharp increase in internally generated revenue from an average of N3.6. billion per month in January 2006, to an average of about N20.5 billion per month in 2013.

Fowler, who holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree of the Irish International University, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and the Business Management Association of the United Kingdom.

He will serve as Acting Executive Chairman of FIRS until his appointment is confirmed by the Senate.

President Buhari has also appointed Mr. Aliyu Yahaya Gusau as Director-General , Budget Office of the Federation.

Mr. Gusau’s appointment is with effect from August 18, 2015 and is for a term of four years, renewable for another four years, unless he attains the retirement age of 60 years or completes 35 years of pensionable service.

Nigeria’s Revenue Dipped As Oil Sales Dropped – FIRS Boss

FIRSThe Federal Inland Revenue Service tax collection from the oil industry in the month of March 2015 was the worst performance from the oil industry in the last 15 years.

The Acting Chairman of the FIRS, Mr Samuel Ogungbesan, said that the reason for the woeful performance was because three major oil companies had nothing to report because of the huge increase in the cost of production.

Mr Ogungbesan, who spoke at a meeting with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, lamented that most foreign countries are not buying Nigeria’s crude oil because they have alternative source of energy.

He then explained strategies being put in place to generate revenue, one of which is tax from luxury items.

It was the first meeting between federal lawmakers in the eighth assembly and officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The meeting, called at the instance of the Senate President, was to examine strategies to improve tax collection in the country.

With a drop in revenue as a result of dwindling oil price in the international market, Nigeria has to urgently find ways of generating revenue to fund the national budget.

The Senate President said that the National Assembly would give the FIRS the support it needs to perform its role efficiently but expressed scepticism about luxury tax.

The Senate President said that the drive to improve revenue generation in Nigeria would depend largely on ramping up other sources of revenue outside oil and gas.

Therefore, the Senate is going to be stringent on its oversight of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Jonathan Appoints Ogungbesan New FIRS Acting Chairman

FIRSPresident Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday approved the appointment of Mr. Samuel Ogungbesan, as Acting Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Mr. Ogungbesan, a Coordinating Director at FIRS, replaces Mr Kabiru Mashi, who has served as acting Executive Chairman of the agency since 2012.

His appointment takes immediate effect.

Dropping Oil Prices: FG Unveils New Economic Measures

Okonjo-IwealaThe Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has appealed to Nigerians to tighten their belts ahead of the stringent economic measures being proposed by the Federal Government.

This new development follows a drop in oil price in the global market.

Addressing a Special Media Briefing in Abuja on Sunday,  Dr Okonjo-Iweala declared that the Federal Ministry of Finance has been keeping a close eye on movements in global oil prices because of the critical importance of oil as the country’s most important source of revenue.

As part of the response, the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2015 Budget proposal to the National Assembly have been revised. As a result, the federal government will be proposing a benchmark of $73 dollars per barrel to the National Assembly compared to the earlier proposed benchmark of $78.

Dr. Iweala told journalists in Abuja on Sunday that the austerity measure being proposed are meant to cushion the effect of the oil price drop.

She said government will increase revenue collection targets for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from N75 to N160 billion, place restrictions on international travels in the public service and surcharge on luxury items for high income earners, among others.

“Foreign travel will have to be funded by those inviting civil or public servants and all expenses paid by the inviting body. Same goes for training, local training will be encouraged but expenses for foreign training will be borne by inviting foreign host with permission sought from Head of Service (HoS). Evidence of sponsorship detailing all expenses paid for by inviting body must be tendered before HoS will grant approval.

“I am not sure of what direction to take with taxes but that a key initiative on the revenue side is a surcharge on luxury items details of which are being worked out. Government’s efforts from now will be to increase Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of entities and ensure that they remit these IGRs on time to government coffers. This economy has to stop talking about oil.

“Printing money without adequate revenue support will lead to serious consequences for the country. It will spur spiral inflation as the experiences of Germany in the early part of the last century and more recently, Argentina and Zimbabwe demonstrate. This prescription will victimize the poor and middle class that it is supposedly protecting.” she added.

She however noted that the economy “continues to exhibit strength but government will not compensate by borrowing or printing currency but will borrow at very low interest rate and no large domestic borrowing.”

Economist Describes Nigeria’s Reason For Borrowing As ‘Silly’

An economist, Henry Boyo, has described the reason given by the Federal Government of Nigeria for borrowing more money in order to boost infrastructural projects, as silly.

Mr. Boyo who was a guest on Channels Television programme, Business Morning, warned that the country may be deceived into more borrowing until it falls into another “debt-trap”.

He said the nation should be reminded that years ago, Nigeria was said to have under borrowed, which led to a debt-trap.

“What is the cause of our borrowing? Why are we accumulating debts so rapidly?” he asked.

He said that over the years, Nigeria has borrowed for the same reason but there have been no visible results, adding that the transportation and education systems, health services are decrepit and the “cost of living continues to spiral”.

He pointed out that the country has other revenue sources such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as well as the Customs, which jointly raked in about N6 trillion in 2012.

“The total revenue streams have not been appropriately compounded,” he added.

He also talked about the Excess Crude Account which “the three arms of government divide among themselves” whilst still maintaining a deficit, which they are now borrowing to cover for.

“If somebody tells you something absolutely silly… you would question it,” he declared.

Ministries, Department and Agencies owe FIRS N169 billion

A total of 100 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are indebted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) since 2004.

FIRS coordinating director for field operations, Mr Samuel Ogungbesan told a panel of the House of Representatives that the total debt owed by the MDAs is N169 billion.

He said the amount includes tax arrears as well as penalties against the government agencies.

 

FIRS VACANCY: Employment to be based on merit – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

You don’t need know anybody to be employed into sensitive positions in government; the jobs will be given strictly on the basis of merit.

These were the words of President Goodluck Jonathan as he turned his back on those lobbying for the vacant positions of the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as he directed that the positions be advertised.

President Jonathan said the government will no longer make appointments based on geo-political zones and political leanings. He made this known while present the presidential awards to the winners of the YouWin scheme on Thursday in Abuja.

The President said he had directed the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to advertise the vacant FIRS position to enable qualified Nigerians to compete for it. He gave the assurance that the job will be gotten on merit.

He also said the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, had been directed to do same with the vacant NHIS job, as he claimed some people had been scheming for the two posts.

“This administration is committed to stopping a situation where a Nigerian must know somebody who knows somebody before he gets something” he said, affirming strongly that “this situation must end and we are beginning to demonstrate that even in our political appointments.”

“Some of the political offices have to be advertised for all Nigerians to compete so that we select the best” he said.

“Recently, we wanted to appoint the managing director and executive directors that will be in charge of our Sovereign Wealth Fund and they were advertised to all Nigerians. You don’t need to know Mr. President to get the job as long as you are competent” stated the president.

The FIRS boss seat became vacant last week following the resignation of Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru while Dr. Waziri Dogo-Muhammed quited the NHIS after the expiration of his tenure last month.