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Buhari orders FIRS to enforce strict tax payment

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Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS)

•Africa loses $60b yearly, says Adesina
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, directed the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other revenue-generating agencies to plug leakages and ensure strict compliance with tax payment by foreign companies operating in Nigeria.

He also ordered the FIRS to facilitate deployment of more digital platforms and seamless connections.

Addressing the first National Tax Dialogue virtually at the State House, Abuja, the President mandated all government agencies to automate their operations and synergise to boost revenue generation.

His words: “It is not enough that our citizens and local businesses pay their fair share of taxes. Equally, foreign businesses must also not be allowed to continue to exploit our markets and economy without paying appropriate taxes.

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“Accordingly, the FIRS has my mandate to speedily put all measures in place to fully implement programmes to stamp out base erosion and profit shifting in all their ramifications and generally automate its tax processes.

“In line with this, I have directed all government agencies and business enterprises to grant FIRS access to their systems for seamless connection. FIRS must ensure that its deployment of technology for automation is done in line with international best practices. In particular, FIRS can borrow a leaf from other countries which have successfully automated their tax processes.”

Buhari said Nigeria would keep working with inclusive framework to develop internationally acceptable rules for taxation of the digital economy, while hoping that “the framework would have evolved into an acceptable multilateral solution that will comprehensively address the tax challenges of the digitalised economy by the middle of 2021.”

He assured the citizens that government was pursuing its mandate of improving lives through investment in infrastructure like railways, roads, electricity, healthcare and education in spite of dwindling revenue and the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus.

The first citizen said his administration had “inevitably resorted to deficit budgeting as a result of declining revenues for some years, resulting to increase in Nigeria’s debt profile, which stood at about N32 trillion in September 2020.”

In his keynote presentation, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, projected a rebound of the Nigerian economy from recession with a 1.5 per cent growth rate in 2021 and two per cent growth in 2022.

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He said taxes should be employed as instruments for promoting development by encouraging private sector companies to take up responsibilities in infrastructure.

Adesina advised that youths should be incentivised to grow businesses with appropriate tax regimes, adding that Africa loses about $60 billion yearly in tax revenue.

In her remarks, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said government would improve its template for tax collection, especially in the face of dwindling income owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She described 2021 as a year of recovery for the economy.

The FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami, called for a new and comprehensive tax payment culture.

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