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Benue government, Dangote Cement still differ on tax remittance

By Leo Sobechi, Abuja
09 August 2022   |   5:23 am
Two months after the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) sealed the Dangote Cement plant in Gboko, none of the parties has agreed to shift ground on the issue of remittances.

Dangote Cement

Two months after the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) sealed the Dangote Cement plant in Gboko, none of the parties has agreed to shift ground on the issue of remittances.

BIRS had, on June 8, 2022, in an operation led by its chairperson, Mrs. Mimi Orubibi, acting on a court injunction, sealed the plant for defaulting in tax remittance.

It claimed that the firm defaulted in the payment of N218.523 million for the 2018/2019 tax year. But when The Guardian contacted the firm for clarification, the management decried the “hostile posture” of the revenue agency, stressing that as a responsible corporate citizen, the company did not breach any rule.

The Finance Controller, Anthony Tanko, declared: “Dangote Cement, Gboko plant, was not owing a dime in tax payment or remittance to the BIRS,” stressing that N16 million was due for the plant to pay as tax in 2022, which was duly paid.

While regretting that BIRS hastily took action without reconciling its records, Tanko described the allegations of tax liability against the plant as half-truths, insisting that the revenue agency did not disclose how it arrived at N218 million tax debt.

“The N218 million is back duty. Back duty means to verify. There was an audit to verify whether we have been paying the right value. The BIRS initial claim was N474.3 million. It requested evidence of expatriate payee. The discrepancy is from the salaries of the expatriate payees, which is computed from our headquarters in Lagos. We tendered receipts, but they refused.

“The bone of contention here is the expatriate payee, which is N55.9 million and surface rent of N60 million. Even the N67 million we paid was under duress, because we wanted our plant to be unsealed. However, even what we have paid, we assume that it is a deposit for future transactions. Yet, we have approached the courts and we await the outcome.”

Although Orubibi was not available when The Guardian called, the Director of Tax Assessment, Victor Beke, maintained that Dangote Cement was found to be evading tax.

Beke stated: “Dangote claimed that its undisputed liability was N16.678 million. We acknowledged the N16 million and deducted from the N218 million, so we got a court injunction and sealed the company.

“They wrote us on June 9, 2022 to unseal them. Out of the remaining N202 million, the BIRS and Dangote Cement reached an agreement for them to pay in three equal instalments. So, they have already paid the first instalment of N67.2 million, being one third of the tax liability, while the balance of N134.5 million would be paid subsequently in two equal instalments.”