â€¢ Senate Câ€™ttee faults agencyâ€™s claim on training 6m Nigerians, $5bn investment
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, has presented a projection ofÂ N1.8 trillion Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue collection for the 2017 fiscal year.
Speaking when he defended his agencyâ€™s 2017 budget before the Senate Committee on Finance yesterday, Fowler said the 2017 N7.441 trillion federal budget is expected to be driven by the proper collection of taxes.
The agency, in realisation of this responsibility and challenges of doing manual collection has therefore automated VAT collection, particularly for sectors considered critical, such as financial institutions, airlines, and telecommunications, Fowler said.
He however noted that the deployment of the automated platform is at no cost to the FIRS, as the service providers would be compensated on incremental revenue generated.
The 2017 projected cost of collection of N153.44 billion is higher than that of 2016, which was N143.90 billion, he noted, adding that it represented an increase of 6.63 per cent on overall projected non-oil revenue including VAT, stamp duties and levy.
Fowler urged the lawmakers to approve the surplus budget of â€œN848 million arising from an expected total revenue of N153.4 billion over expenditure of N152.6 billion.â€
Speaking on the projection performance, Fowler disclosed that the agency already recorded an increase of N224 billion from January to June 2017, indicating an increase of 14 per cent from the corresponding period in 2016.
â€œWe have therefore achieved 72.93 per cent of our half year target of N2.44 trillion for 2017 as against 74.2 per cent of N2.1 trillion for the corresponding period in 2016,â€ Fowler said.
He further disclosed that tax collection between January and June 2017 was N1,782,922,600.000 with variation of N224.1 billion indicating a 14 per cent increase from the corresponding period in 2016.
â€œThe chairman may note that we attained this collection performance despite several challenges, as we have continued to vigorously pursued our strategies internally while improving collaboration with relevant stakeholders to boost our collections. The strategies put in place are on course and progressively yielding fruits. We are hopeful therefore that the efforts being made will translate to significant tax yields before the end of 2017,â€ he added.
Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Enoh, harped on the need for the agency to achieve its target as deficit would negatively affect the 2017 federal budget.
In another development, the Senate joint committee on Petroleum Upstream and Gas has faulted claims by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) that it has trained about six million Nigerians since its establishment, and reinvested $5 billion of $20 billion funds in the oil and gas sector.
The Board Executive Secretary, Mr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, made the claims while speaking at a public hearing on localÂ content implementation and investigation on the utilisation of the Nigerian Content Development Funds, among other achievements.
The hearing was organised by the joint committee Tuesday.
Wabote said the agency had established six fabrication facilities with world class standards in Nigeria, which have handled 60,000 metric tonnes of fabrication capacity, in addition to achieving a 36 percent local content participation in marine activities.
All fabrications, engineering and procurement activities were done outside this country which in the past 50 years resulted in a capital flight of $380 billion from Nigeria, Wabote said.
The development, he stated, might have resulted in the loss of at least two million jobs, as the services were exported.
He added that the agency is also working to increase the sale of oil and gas products to the tune of $15 billion by the end of 2027.
â€œAll electrical cables used in the oil and gas operations are manufactured in Nigeria. Today we are able to manufacture 670,000 of metric tonnes of pipes in Nigeria today. We intend to establish five training centres and a research centre,â€ he said.
â€œThe board is implementing a 10-year strategic roadmap anchored on delivering five pillars of sustainable local content and has a target to achieve 70 per cent local content in the next 10 years explaining that part of it â€œis to develop the required technical capability and also to ensure strict compliance and enforcement of the provisions of the act,â€ he said.
Wabote told the committee that the agency has been able to make significant progress in local content development.
The committee members led by Senator Tayo Alasoadura (Chairman, Petroleum Upstream) and Senator Akpan Bassey (Chairman, Gas) however observed that Waboteâ€™s claims cannot be reconciled with the realities on ground.
Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North) observed that if the achievements were as he claimed, there may have been no need for the public hearing.
Her opinion was echoed by Senator Gershom Bassey (Cross River South) who called for strict adherence to the stipulations of the agencyâ€™s establishing act.