The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), government’s agency responsible for assessing, collecting and accounting for tax and other revenues accruing to the Federal Government of Nigeria, have been recording tremendous successes and living up to it’s mandate especially under the leadership of the Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami.
Prior to the present leadership, the FIRS was seen to be limited in capacity as it could not efficiently facilitate an effective tax collection system through bringing more tax paying entities into the national tax net. And this reflected in low revenue generation for the Federal Government year in, year out.
But amazingly, in 2020, the agency received commendations for exceeding its revenue target in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020; it generated N19.15 billion above its N1.27 trillion target and this was just few months after Muhammad Nami assumed office. More intriguing is the fact that that was the first time in five years (since Q2 of 2015) that the FIRS would be surpassing its revenue target.
In 2021, the Service achieved a record tax collection of N6.405 trillion, representing over a hundred per cent of its collection target for the year and also marked the first time that agency crossed the six trillion mark. And this was despite the economic downturn experienced in the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This was good, but the tax collection agency did not rest on its oars rather it went further to prove that with the right kind of visionary leadership, it can do better and that there are better days ahead for the country. And this it did by building on the success already recorded.
More recently, the agency re-wrote Nigeria’s tax collection history when it announced in its “FIRS 2022 Performance Update” report that it collected over N10.1 trillion in tax revenue in the year 2022, signifying over 96 per cent of its collection target for the year, marking the highest tax collection ever recorded in its history and the first time that the FIRS will cross the N10 trillion mark in tax revenue collection.
Out of the N10.1 trillion collected in revenue, oil sector collection stood at N4.09 trillion (representing 59% of the total collection) while non-oil tax contributed N5.96 trillion (representing 41%). Also, Companies Income Tax contributed N2.83 trillion; Value Added Tax N2.51 trillion; Electronic Money Transfer Levy N125.67 billion and Earmarked Taxes N353.69 billion. Also according to the report, the N10.1 trillion realized from tax is exclusive of tax waived on account of various tax incentives granted under the respective laws, which amounted to N1.8 trillion.
Of course you would agree with me that this unprecedented milestone is not a sheer bit of luck, it did not just happen by chance. It is as a result of deliberate, well thought out plans, strategies and efforts put in place which has now metamorphosed into a jinx breaker in the history of the apex tax administration agency in Nigeria.
The report shed more light on this. It stated that “the Muhammad Nami-led management upon assumption of office came up with a four-point focus, namely: administrative and operational restructuring; making the service customer-focused; creating a data-centric institution; and automation of administrative and operational processes”.
It further noted that over the period of 2020 to 2022, “the management introduced reforms bordering around this four-point at different times and this is what is now gradually yielding fruits. Notable amongst this is the restructuring of the administration of the Service for maximum efficiency and achievement of internal cohesion such that all functional units now work in unison towards the achievement of set goals.
“The Service had also automated most of the administrative and operational processes. A major leap was the full deployment of the TaxPro Max for end-to-end administration of taxes in June 2021. The module for the automated TCC went live 1st January 2023 while taxpayers had already downloaded over 1,000 TCCs this year without having to visit FIRS office.
“It also noted that the Service had operationalised its data mining and analysis system thereby allowing for data-backed taxpayer profiling”.
Another breakthrough that was instrumental to this historical feat in the FIRS is the opening of 25 new satellite tax offices across the country as part of the agency’s goal to “bring tax services nearer to the taxpaying public while bringing FIRS nearer to the public”. According to the FIRS, the purpose of the new tax offices was to “help bring many taxpayers into the tax net, help fill companies income tax, and value added tax as well as monitor compliance with other taxes,”
All these conscious efforts summed up together, birthed the new era that we are witnessing today in the FIRS under the leadership of a seasoned tax consultant and administrator who has proven to be more than equal to the task. The FIRS Boss’ top notch reforms and strategies have not just ushered the agency into a whole new era but also paved way for it to achieve much more than it had achieved in the previous years.
And like the agency rightly said, its goal is to build on the current reforms, identify more areas where it can improve in the delivery and efficiency of its collection, and plug loopholes while deploying innovative reforms in data and artificial intelligence.
By achieving this, it will harness and even improve on its momentum in 2023 to provide sustainable tax revenue that would fund government’s projects, services, programmes and amenities.
Ijanada Jantiku, a public affairs commentator writes from Borno State.
Why We Seek Inclusion In Conditional Cash Transfer –Obiora Oti
THE National Vice President of Mobile Money and Bank Association of Nigeria (MMBAN), Obiora Oti, said money wallet bankers would improve their capitalisation and liquidity if the government included them as facilitators in the conditional cash transfer scheme.
Oti told The ICIR exclusively on Wednesday, November 8, that many young people involved in the money wallet business could be supported with a seed capital of about N50,000 and become part of the Federal Government’s cash transfer scheme.
This development, he said, would ensure enough liquidity for them to stay in business since many of them have undergone financial inclusion training under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy guidelines.
Oti recalled how he supported someone with seed money of N20,000 in 2020, during the COVID year, and how the person has become an aggregator and now manages N15,000,000 capital.
“This is how financial inclusion works, and it is one of the fastest ways of removing people from poverty,” he said.
“Typically, you don’t grow the gross domestic product (GDP) by throwing money to people through interventions. When there is a channel for such distribution, it stimulates the economy’s growth,” he added.
He also argued that empowering money wallet agents was a sure way of driving Nigeria’s financial inclusion and economic base.
According to Oti, Nigeria has many lessons from Kenya in its financial inclusion success story because of the Kenyan government’s involvement and facilitation through policy direction and incentives to operatives.
Agency banking allows customers to deposit and withdraw money instead of going to the bank or using automated teller machines (ATMs.)
Currently, there is one agency banking agent for every 80 Nigerians and one bank branch for every 27,000, according to a 2023 report on the Nigerian Financial Services Market.
Naira Falls To N1, 000/$ In Official Market
Despite recent moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria to strengthen the foreign exchange market, the naira closed trading on the Investor & Exporter forex window on Thursday at N996.75/$.
This is a 13.95 per cent decline from the N874.71/$ it closed trading on Wednesday. So far, the naira has lost 27.75 per cent of its value since opening the week at N780.23/$ according to details on FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange.
Since firming up against the dollar last week, after news that the apex bank was clearing some of its backlog broke, the naira has been on a steady decline in both the official and parallel markets.
So far, the naira has lost about 40 per cent of its value in 2023, earning the tag of one of the worst performing African currencies from the World Bank.
In the parallel market, the currency has lost value too, falling from N950/$ as of Friday to close to N1,140/$ as of Thursday according to Bureaux De Change operators who spoke to The PUNCH. This represents a 20 per cent decline.
A trader who only gave his name as Kadri said, “Dollar is N1,100 if you want to sell. It is N1,140 if you want to buy.” Another trader, Awolu, stated that he would buy the dollar at N1,100 from our correspondent.
He said, “Dollar is N1,100 if you want to sell to me.”
Earlier in the week, the President of the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria, Aminu Gwadabe, told The PUNCH that the dollar was gaining against the naira because people who had bought it at a higher price were resisting its fall.
He said, “Speculators are always looking at elements of sustainability. Once they sense that it (the injection) is not continuous, they begin to react. They begin to react. It is the reaction of the market we are witnessing. Also, there is resistance. There are people that bought at a higher price that this does not favour. People are not willing to take further losses.”
Concerned with the fall of the currency, the presidency recently stated that it is planning policies to strengthen the local currency.
A Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr Tope Fasua, who was representing the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, at an event, said: “For those who are speculating and praying and wishing that the currency would become nonsense, I believe that the central bank is rolling out the policies and the government that I serve, led by the President, will shock some of them.”
Dangote Repatriates $688m From African Operations
Dangote Industries Limited has revealed that it has so far repatriated over $687.98m through various banks in Nigeria.
In a statement on Sunday, the company said it brought in $576,008,672.41 through various banks in Nigeria, in addition to a $111,968,109.38 cash swap arrangement between Dangote Cement Plc and Ethiopian Airlines.
Dangote re-affirmed its determination and belief in Nigeria, noting that the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had shown the will and resolve to get the economy moving again.
“We are not body-shop investors. We believe in Nigeria, and we believe in Africa. We are genuine and authentic about our investments, and we call on all relevant agencies to investigate our FX transactions in the past 10 years and make public any infraction noticed or discovered.”
Insisting that all forex purchased in respect of its African Project Expansion were genuine and fully utilised for what they were meant for, the firm noted that the projects for which the forex was utilised were visible for everyone to see.
“It is on record that some of these projects were commissioned by Nigerian top-ranking government officials and in attendance were chief executives of various banks, captains of Industries, and the Presidents of the host countries supported by their Senior Government officials.
“The commissioning events of these projects were well documented and covered by both local and international media. There are also print and electronic copies of the commissioning ceremonies as further testimony to the judicious utilisation of the funds.”
Dangote further explained that its massive investments in Africa would lead to the repatriation of forex in the very near future and boost foreign exchange earnings in Nigeria, as well as stabilise the forex market.