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FIRS to sell tax evaders’ properties, freeze 6,772 accounts



The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Tunde Fowler, said on Thursday that the government would sell properties built and developed in corporate names across the country on which taxes were not being paid.

Fowler disclosed this in Lagos at a stakeholders’ meeting, where he noted that the country still had one of the lowest tax revenue to Gross Domestic Product ratios in the world.

He said the FIRS generated a total of N3.5tn from taxes between January and August this year, more than N1tn higher than the revenue for the same period of 2017.

He stated, “On paper, it looks good but the main issue I want to point out here is that the majority of taxpayers that accounted for this revenue have not changed; the laws have not changed; and to a great extent, the consultants to the companies equally have not changed.

“Even at current prices, the oil revenue cannot fund our nation. The only way is for us to have a high level of tax compliance and focus on the non-oil sector. A major component of the non-oil happens to be Value Added Tax, and we have found out that a number of businesses collect VAT and do not remit to the government.”

Fowler stated that the FIRS carried out an exercise about a year ago regarding properties, adding, “We started at home in the Federal Capital Territory, and we established over 2,000 properties and land that were built or developed in corporate names and limited liability companies. The value of these properties is in excess of N2tn, and they (the owners) have never paid any taxes for them. We have contacted them and sent them our assessments. A number of them are paying.

“But for those that have owners that are not paying, we will go to court to get the approval or court order to sell those properties. We are not only doing that in Abuja. We have concluded in Lagos; we are currently going to Osun, Oyo, Kaduna; and eventually, we will cover the whole federation.”

Fowler said the FIRS looked at all businesses, partnerships and company accounts with a minimum turnover of N1bn per annum for the past three years.

He added, “First of all, the law states clearly that before you open a company account, part of the opening documentation is the tax ID. From the 23 banks we have analysed so far, we have 31,395 records; out of which effectively minus duplication, we have 18,602.

“We broke those into three categories: those that have Taxpayer Identification Numbers; those that have no TIN, and of course, no TIN, no pay; and those that have TINs and are not even paying anything.”

According to him, the total number of TINs and no pay, and no TIN and no pay is 6,772.

The FIRS boss noted, “So far, we have sent out 2,980 letters, and we believe that before the end of September, we will get most of them out. What we have done is what we call substitution, which also is in our law. It empowers us to appoint the banks as the collection agents.

“So, the total of TIN and no pay, and no TIN and no pay of 6,772 will have their accounts frozen or put under substitution pending when they come forward. First of all, they refused to come forward in 2016; they refused to come forward under the VAIDS, and so we are putting them on notice that it is their civic responsibility to pay taxes and to file all audit accounts.

“At this point, let me also apologise; I have signed about five letters of apology. We found out that in some cases, when a company opened an account, they did not put a TIN, so their name came up here. So, I will call on the compliance officers in the banks, please follow the law.”

Fowler stated that it was discovered that the majority of major organisations that were allowed to do self-assessment did not truthfully declare or pay the correct taxes that were due.


FG to deploy 100 electric buses



President Bola Tinubu has said Nigeria is taking a significant step towards a sustainable and eco-friendly future by introducing a pioneering initiative to deploy a fleet of 100 electric buses.

The President spoke at a high-level meeting with stakeholders and investors on the Nigeria Carbon Market and Electric Buses Rollout Programme on Saturday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the margins of the COP28 climate summit.

President Tinubu explained that the strategic initiative is aimed at significantly reducing Nigeria’s carbon footprint and modernizing the country’s transportation systems as part of a larger effort to position Nigeria and Africa as the pioneering frontier of green manufacturing and industrialization with a focus on natural gas as a transition fuel alongside other renewable energy sources.

To spearhead this transformative plan, the President announced the appointment of the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC), Mr. Dahiru Salisu, to co-chair the Nigeria Carbon Market Activation Plan.

”This initiative stands as a testament to our dedication to environmental stewardship as clearly exemplified through our collaboration with the Africa Carbon Market Initiative. Our visionary plan is a strategic guidepost, directing Nigeria towards becoming an investment-friendly destination for carbon market investments.

”We recognize the imperative of fostering an environment that not only attracts investment but also upholds standardized and sustainable industrial practices. As a manifestation of our forward-thinking approach, we are actively looking to implement robust, enabling policies and frameworks that will serve as the catalyst for the burgeoning growth of the carbon market within our national borders.

”In further driving my commitment, I have recently approved an Inter-governmental Committee on Carbon Markets to be chaired by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change to drive this visionary plan,” the President stated.

The President assured prospective investors that this initiative transcends being a mere pilot project.

”It is a concrete manifestation of our unwavering dedication to a carbon-neutral future. I assure you; this is only the commencement of our ambitious plans, with many more impactful initiatives on the horizon,” he said.

President Tinubu, while acknowledging the pressing need for a comprehensive global collaboration on climate-related challenges, called on global partners to join hands in accelerating collective efforts towards a net-zero future.

”As we unveil our initiatives, I challenge other nations to emulate our strides in mapping out their sustainable futures with a clear understanding that Africa is a beacon of innovative solutions to climate-related challenges.

”In this pursuit, we acknowledge the pressing need for comprehensive global collaboration, and we reiterate our commitment to being an active participant in international efforts.

”Nigeria’s plans for a greener and cleaner economy can serve as an inspirational narrative for nations worldwide. Our comprehensive approach, rooted in visionary leadership and pragmatic action supported by our technical partners, is poised to become a blueprint for countries aspiring to also develop and catalyze their markets for sustainable growth,” the President concluded.

In his remarks, FIRS Chairman, Mr. Zacch Adedeji acknowledged the visionary leadership of President Tinubu as the guiding force behind Nigeria’s commitment to harnessing its vast carbon potential.

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At COP28, Sanwo-Olu seeks funding to address supply of clean water in Lagos



Governor of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu has sought global support for funding in Lagos state to be able to provide clean water.

The Governor speaking at a side meeting with the theme: “Valuing Water: A Lifeline in Climate Transition”, organised by Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum and Sustainable Market Initiative at the ongoing 28th session of Conference of Parties (COP28) at Dubai Exhibition Centre pitched a sustainable funding proposal in order to raise private and philanthropic funding in addressing inadequate water infrastructure and supply shortages in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that Lagos, with 22 million population, has a daily demand of 700 million gallons of portable water, but said the State could hardly supply 210 million gallons per day due to shortage of infrastructure. 
The Governor said, although provision of clean water had been generally considered a social service, it was an essential element of economic necessity, given its importance to keeping humans healthy. 
Lagos, he said, is challenged by increasing demand for clean water. Sanwo-Olu said the inadequacy of supply infrastructure could raise disease vulnerability in underserved communities, pointing out that the State, despite being surrounded by abundant water bodies, could only manage to utilise 40 per cent of its installed water facilities.
He said: “Lagos has an investment of about $2.8 billion in water infrastructure, but there is a burden on the huge population, as we need to create an ecosystem where we can have access to basic needs in the 21st century. Given our meagre resources, it is really a challenge but we certainly cannot continue to give excuses. This gap is being felt by underserved communities and the risk to the public is high.”
“We have continued to allocate resources to this sector from our budget, but the intervention is hardly enough to serve the needs of the residents. Four years ago, I gave a commitment of $100 million, but this is like a drop, given the number of investments required to fully explore the potential in the sector. We have huge infrastructure that is not being utilised, making us to operate at less than 40 per cent of the installed capacity.”
“Out of the $1.7 trillion needed globally to address the gap in clean water adequacy, Lagos requires less one per cent of the funds to provide safe water. It is my belief that this conversation would lead to sustainable solution that would meet the needs of millions of people that want water adequacy. Our goal is making committed partners believe in economic viability of their investments.”
Sanwo-Olu listed the country’s energy crisis as another factor slowing down the provision of clean water, stressing that irregular power supply rendered resources allocated to the sector inefficient.
The Governor called for equity in global investment towards accelerating water adequacy, noting that humans, regardless of their gender and geographical location, need equal access to clean water.
With 65 per cent of its population made up of young people of under 30, Sanwo-Olu told the funders that Lagos remained an African asset on which viable investments could be made.

The side meeting, which was moderated by the Secretary General of Insurance Development Forum, Ms. Ekhosuehi Iyahen, had seven other panelists, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WaterAid, Tim Wainright, Chief Sustainability Officer of PepsiCo, and CEO of Dalmia Cement in India, Mahendra Singh.
Others are Chief Operating Officer of, Vedika Bhandarkar, Managing Partner of AquaForAll, Josien Sluijs, Assistant Director General of Food and Agriculture Organisation at UN, Maximo Torero, and former CEO of Mars, Incorporated, Grant Reid.

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COP28: Gov Eno joins President Tinubu in Dubai



Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency Pastor Umo Eno, is part of the delegation led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR at the ongoing COP28 climate conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Delegates from nearly 200 countries, leaders in business and finance, and representatives of civil society are gathering in Dubai from November 30 to December 12 for the COP28 climate conference, aiming to fast-track the transition to a clean-energy future.

COP28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), occurring annually.

Also in the President’s entourage are the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo, President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Group CEO of NNPCL, Mele Kyari and the newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Okokon Ekanem Udo, among others.

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