FIRS: We Don’t Grant Tax Waivers to Local, Foreign Investors

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By Adedayo Akinwale

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said that it does not grant tax waivers to local or foreign investors in the country, saying the Act establishing the agency did not empower it to grant tax waivers.

The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami, made this known on Friday in Abuja when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Public Accounts Committee.

The committee is investigating alleged tax waivers granted to three foreign firms operating in the country — Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and Oil and Industrial Services (OIS) and Indorama Eleme Port Harcourt.

The committee had written a letter of invitation dated 27th May, 2021 to the Executive Chairman of FIRS to appear before it on June 9, 2021 on alleged revenue leakages involving the three foreign firms.

However, Nami could not honour the committee’s summons on the said date due to other pressing engagements which included board meetings.

Speaking at the investigative hearing on Friday, the FIRS Chairman said the mandate of the FIRS is to assess, collect and account for tax revenue, adding that the mandate is clear and unambiguous.

He stated: “The FIRS does not have the power or responsibility of facilitating or implementing incentives to local investors or investors coming through the Foreign Direct Investment platform, which is the sole prerogative of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).

“The investigation of the three foreign firms — Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and OIS Indorama Eleme Port Harcourt — started way back in 2015. The committee in charge of the investigation has consistently been furnished with all required documents by the FIRS.”

Nami stressed that the companies under consideration had at different times granted pioneer status between December 15, 1997 to 2016 for the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd and between 2017 and 2020 for the Indorama Fertilizer and Chemicals Ltd respectively.

He added: “Upon expiration of the pioneer period and conclusion of post pioneer audit, the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd company’s tax file was returned to the Large Tax Office (LTO) Port Harcourt. Thus far, the company has filed its annual returns up to 31st December 2019 with relevant self assessment and paid its attendant liabilities.”

The chairman of the committee, Hon. Oluwole Oke, said the management claimed it has three companies, but the committee was only furnished with the records and information about one.

Oke said: “You told this committee that you have three outfits and based on the submission that you gave to us, on behalf of each, you gave us certificates of incorporation, memorandum and article of association. But we only had your records on one, which is Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals. We don’t have on the other two because, in fact, the third one, they are new disclosures to us.

“Mr. Clerk please do a letter to the registrar of the companies to furnish this committee with the particulars OIS. Similarly, do a letter to the chairman of FIRS to furnish us with their records on OIS Ltd, since he is claiming that they are investors, shareholders and that it is a Nigerian company. If we have all the records of the three companies, it gives an opportunity to study them ahead of time.”