Whistleblowing policy: FG recovers N14bn from tax evaders
• Delay In Budget Passage Will Have Some Impact, Says Adeosun
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has revealed that the federal government has so far recovered about N13.9billion from tax evaders through the assistance of volunteers who provided tips on evading tax companies in the country.
Adeosun made this known yesterday in Abuja during a press briefing after meeting with 10 World Bank directors, who are in the country to monitor the progress of the Bank’s supported projects in Nigeria.
She stated that the policy, which commenced in 2016, is now targeting not only those that embezzle money from the government coffers, but also non- regular taxpayers, as well as those who underpay their taxes.
According to her, this month (May) alone, government paid over N439 million to 18 people that provided information on companies deliberately not meeting up with their tax obligations.
Giving more insight into the progress made in the whistleblowing policy, Adeosun said government has received 8,373 communications, 1231 tips and 534 investigations since it started.
She, however, disclosed that while 10 prosecutions were pursued, only four convictions have been recorded, explaining that government is getting more tips on the policy, as more companies are now paying their taxes through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), adding: “We are getting far more tips on tax evasion, which, of course, is a crime against all of us.”
She said the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other tax authorities were doing a lot on enforcement of payment and the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) has helped in increasing the number of taxpayers captured in the tax base of the country.
The minister also disclosed that government has concluded plans to deepen the whistleblowing policy in institutions, such as ministries, MDAs and parastatals.
She said that the whistleblowing unit travelled to the United Kingdom (UK) to understudy how the policy works there, visiting institutions as the Commonwealth Office, Customs and others, even as their findings are to be applied within to deepen the policy in Nigeria.
Adeosun said as a means of ensuring accountability in the parastatals, government would be checking their payrolls on a regular basis, adding that Nigeria has 190 abandoned properties abroad that were recovered by the team.
While insisting that the country’s debt ratio to GDP, which is 20 per cent, is the lowest in sub-Sahara Africa, the minister explained that the fear expressed by the World Bank over debt profile of some African countries does not affect Nigeria.
The minister stressed that the delay in passing this year’s budget would have some impact on the nation and cause some adjustments in implementation, adding, however, that the federal government would try to mitigate the effects of the delay.
“Honestly, we may need to realign some of the priorities now, because what we thought we would be doing in January is now different from what we are going to do.
“So, we are going to have to look very closely to see where we would realign and re-prioritise, but we will carry on because most of the capital projects are multi-year projects.
“We are going to try and mitigate that impact as much as possible and focus on completing projects,” she assured.
The minister said the fact that last year’s budget cycle began late in the year had helped a great deal.
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