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Nigeria is losing $15 billion to tax evasion, FIRS boss reveals

The Executive Chairman, of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler is worried that several people are successfully evading tax.

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FIRS, VAT, Tax, Dangote, FHC faults FIRS using banks as tax agents , FIRS boss, Babatunde Fowler’s tenure ends, replacement disclosed 

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler is worried that several people are successfully evading tax. He disclosed that the sum of $15 billion is lost by the country to tax evasion annually.

He made the statement at an event organized by the West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF)  which held in Abuja.

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The FIRS boss said, “Nigeria loses about 14 billion dollars annually if you look at the major economies, especially those in the extractive industry, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria.

“They form bulk of the transactions, so one can safely assume that Nigeria may be losing between 14 billion dollars to 15 billion dollars annually to tax evasion.’’

[READ ALSO: FIRS establishes Tax Office for foreigners in Nigeria, intensifies compliance strategy]

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Nigerians may not be paying too much if VAT increases to 7.5%

Difficulties: The challenge to curb tax evasion is quite overwhelming according to Fowler. He noted that several information leaks released in the past years had helped in unveiling the depth and breadth of the challenge. Nevertheless, the increasing mobility of income and assets only helped complicate matters.

By virtue of this revelation, he noted that a huge sum of money was still untaxed due to the mobility of assets that can be stored offshore, away from the revenue service prying eyes. The FIRS boss added that the matter was becoming a global phenomenon as several governments around the world had begun to address the challenge.

The FIRS Chairman promised to respond to the global issues of international tax avoidance, tax evasion, illicit financial flows, money laundering and other harmful tax practices, using advanced technology.

As part of the efforts to combat this trend, Fowler said Nigeria is dedicated to improving transparency around tax matters by signing a declaration as well as joining the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCCA) on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in 2017.

[READ ALSO: FHC faults FIRS using banks as collection agents unduly]

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He also promised to fast track the implementation of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) as an indication of Nigeria’s pledge to be transparent regarding the matter of tax collection.

Patricia

Reincarnated as a lover of stocks, Angel investors, seed funds, and anything aligned to tech or startups raising money, Joseph's work at Nairametrics involves following the money to wherever it leads. Before joining Nairametrics, he won an investigative journalism fellowship with ICIR, appeared in several national dallies, with hard-hitting opinions, features and investigative pieces. He has also engaged in content marketing and copywriting for a top e-commerce firm in Nigeria.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. CorporateMan

    October 24, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    $15billion lost to tax evasion; how much to your pockets?

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Business

Austin Avuru retires as CEO of Seplat petroleum, to receive huge benefits

According to the notice, Avuru will be considered a “good leaver” on his retirement.

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Seplat to acquire more oil & gas assets after Eland's acquisition

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Austin Avuru has retired as CEO of the company, but will remain on the board as a Non-Executive Director.

According to a notice sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange and signed by the company secretary Mrs Edith Onwuchekwa, the resignation took effect on July 31, 2020.

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What this means

According to the notice, Avuru will be considered a “good leaver” on his retirement and receive his remuneration and benefits as such.

The Remuneration Committee has confirmed that Avuru will receive “a lump sum payment in lieu of notice equal to his salary, benefits, and pension allowance until November 18, 2020” as well as other security and travel benefits.

He would also receive a loss of office payment equal to 12 months’ salary, as compensation and in accordance with the Nigerian market practice.

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In line with the provisions of the Directors’ Remuneration Policy approved by shareholders of the Company at its 2018 AGM, he will also receive a pro-rata bonus (in cash) to reflect his time as CEO during the financial year, and same “will be provided in the Company’s Directors Remuneration Report for 2020 and subsequent years”.

Seplat will also vest awards made in form of deferred shares in 2019 and 2020 at the normal vesting dates, and subject to the achievement of the relevant performance conditions, and Avuru will be subject to the post-employment shareholding requirement for two years.

The company management and board appreciated Avuru for his ‘excellent leadership’ in growing the company to become a notable player in the Nigerian and wider African hydrocarbon industry.

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Backstory

On November 18 2019, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc announced that Mr Austin Avuru will be retiring as CEO at the end of July 2020.

This is in line with Avuru’s earlier plans to retire sometime around his 62nd birthday.

 

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Just in: Buhari orders payment of stranded NDDC scholarship students, commision gives reason for delay

The delay, it was revealed, was caused by the sudden death of the then EDFA of the commission.

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President Buhari Democracy Day speech

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to immediately pay the fees and stipends of the stranded Nigerian scholars who have been facing hardships abroad.

This was disclosed in a press statement by the NDDC and signed by the commission’s Director for Corporate Affairs, Charles Obi Odili, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

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Odili revealed that the delay in the remittance of the fees for these scholars was caused by the sudden death of the then Acting Executive Director for Finance and Administration, EDFA, of the commission, Chief Ibanga Etang.

Odili stated, “Under the Commission’s finance protocol, only the Executive Director (Finance) and the Executive Director (Projects) can sign for the release of funds from the Commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. With the death of Chief Etang, the remittance has to await the appointment of a new EDFA’

Odili stated further that, “Senator Akpabio, the Honourable Minister, said President Buhari who has been briefed on the protest by students at the Nigerian High Commission in London, has ordered that all stops be pulled to pay the students by the end of this week. We expect a new EDFA to be appointed this week. As soon as that is done, they would all be paid.”

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It would be recalled that the plight of the Nigerian scholars came to the fore after it was revealed, the terrible conditions they were going through in foreign countries since not being able to pay their tuition fees. These revelations caused outrage on social media with many blaming the government for not caring enough for its people.

The non-payment of the allowances and tuition fees of the students by NDDC is coming amid the corruption and financial mismanagement allegations that have been rocking the commission for some months now.

The students said they are going through a lot of hardship due to lack of funds from the NDDC and are unable to engage in menial jobs to survive because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following up with its own intervention, the Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, asked the NDDC as a matter of urgency to pay the allowances, tuition fees and other incentives of students under their scholarship scheme.

She said that last month, she wrote a letter to the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, drawing his attention to the plight of the Nigerian students under the NDDC scholarship scheme in Europe.

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NIPOST’s new charges could have ruined the e-commerce/logistics industry

The backlash NIPOST got from SME proved enough to get the attention of the FG.

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Minister denies approving NIPOST license fee increment , Isa Ali-Pantami, NCC to determine number of phone numbers entitled to an individual  

The Nigerian Postal Service introduced new charges that would cause an increase in the costs of licensing for logistics and courier service providers which resulted in major outrage all over the internet and rightly so.

According to the Vanguard, International courier services like DHL and UPS were expected to pay N20M for a new license and N8M annually while national service providers were to pay N10M for the license to operate and N4M for annual renewal. As for the logistics companies operating within regions, they were to pay N5M for license and N2M annually while firms operating within states got N2M for licence and N800,000 for renewal. Courier firms within municipalities were to pay N1M license fee and N400,000 annually and for SMEs, the license was set at N250,000 while the annual renewal is N100,000.

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Reportedly, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, Franklin Alao, said in a statement that the new regulations were not planned to frustrate ease of doing business rather they aimed to promote growth of MSMEs. He said, “It is part of the strategies to ensure effective service delivery as consumers would know the capacities of the operators they are dealing with… Kindly note that consumers of the courier service would be better off as this will drive charlatans out of the industry. Genuine and serious operators would come back to celebrate this move.”

Fortunately, all through last week, the backlash NIPOST got especially online from SME proved enough to get the attention of the Federal Government because as the Premium Times reported, on Saturday, Isa Pantami, the minister of communication and digital economy rejected the proposed increment on the fees for courier services companies by the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST).

Pantami said in a tweet, “Our attention has been drawn to an increase of license fee, which was not part of the regulation I earlier approved for you… Your Chair and PMG were yesterday contacted to put the implementation on hold and send a report to our ministry by Monday. Best Wishes”. Pantami also said “I know the economic challenges of NIPOST. However, looking at the economic hardships of our citizens, we need to suspend any move.”

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This could have been really bad

The increase in charges would affect three main industries in the economy: e-Commerce, SMEs and ride-hailing.

  1. On Tech Round Up, we discuss time and again how the e-Commerce growth in Nigeria is directly propositional to logistics. As a statement of fact, an e-commerce firm’s level of functionality is heavily based on the strength of their logistics abilities. In essence, e-commerce will not work without the backing of an effective logistics structure.

With Covid-19 came a boom in the Nigerian e-commerce space. Last week, we discussed the increasing interests in M&A deals as MumsVillage and Baby Bliss merged to form the Bliss Group. Also, many consumers had since the lockdown, become dependent on online shopping- this without a doubt will affect these groups of individuals if the government should let this charge increase happen. It will without a doubt increase the prices of goods online and eventually, the boom in online shopping culture may drop drastically.

  1. Small businesses are the backbone of our nation and the same can be said for most economies around the globe, this kind of outrageous increase on charges will only further discourage these already struggling businesses from operating. This increase in fees, if the minister had not interfered would have only made the entire situation of our economy worse. Allegedly, NIPOST had already started seizing delivery motorcycles and demanding fees up to N250,000 from some businesses. This is a lot of money right now especially with most of these small businesses and companies moving their operations online and using logistics to delve into untapped audiences.
  2. The Ride-Hailing Businesses too since the beginning of 2020 has had to readjust, restructure and reevaluate a lot of their offerings. For those firms who have delved into the logistics space full time, these charges may have completely ruined their already slim chance of surviving.

It is a struggle out in these streets. Nigerians and the Nigerian economy has suffered severely in these last few months due to the pandemic- businesses, companies, industries and individuals have been left to bear some great losses and it seems the not so great news keeps on coming.

Another reason why this agenda to increase fees appeared fishy was because they seemingly announced this right after the NIPOST had purchased a fleet of delivery motorcycle- so was it their intent to intimidate or maybe strong-arm the competition and monopolize the sector? Maybe we will never know but it definitely did not sit well with many Nigerians, hence the outrage on the internet.

Even if these charges do get implemented, the NIPOST needs to allow enough time for the economy to stabilize rather than implementing an outright increase that could result in the shutdown of operations of those involved in logistics. There are smarter more mutually productive ways to coexist. These governmental bodies need to figure these out and implement them, it is important for governments and industries to work together to manage the changes that will improve our economy.

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