Nigeria: Fowler Replies Buhari, Explains Low Tax Revenue

The chief executive of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, has replied the query issued him by the presidency.

While Mr Fowler agreed that actual tax collection since the beginning of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration is lower than the 2012-2014 period under former President Goodluck Jonathan, in general terms, he told the presidency FIRS under him has performed better regarding specific non-oil tax types, such as VAT and CIT.

He associated the general lower collection since 2015 to oil market crisis which has seen a fall in commodity price compared to the period under Mr Jonathan, and recession "which slowed down economic activities."

PREMIUM TIMES reported the query to Mr Fowler signed by Abba Kyari, President Buhari's chief of staff.

In the letter, Mr Kyari asked Mr Fowler to explain why government revenue under Mr Fowler has always been less than projected revenue and why the revenue has dropped compared to what obtained between 2012 and 2014, under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

On Monday, the presidency explained that the query to Mr Fowler does not mean that he is being investigated.

"Following reports making the rounds in some media outlets, it is necessary to state categorically that the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, is not under any investigation," Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari's spokesperson wrote in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.

"The letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, on which the purported rumour of an investigation is based, merely raises concerns over the negative run of the tax revenue collection in recent times.

"Taking a cue from today's (Monday) presentation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers-Designate, Federal Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries , which dwelt on an 'Overview of the Policies , Programmes and Project Audit Committee,' a body he chaired, projected revenue of government falls behind recurrent expenditure even without having factored in capital expenditure.

"Consequently, it would appear that the country might be heading for a fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to halt the negative trends in target setting and target realisation in tax revenue."

Mr Shehu said low government revenue has always been a concern to the Buhari presidency.

"Anyone conversant with Federal Executive Council deliberations would have observed that issues bordering on revenue form the number one concern of what Nigeria faces today, and therefore, often take a prime place in discussions of the body.

"It is noteworthy and highly commendable that under this administration, the number of taxable adults has increased from 10 million to 20 million with concerted efforts still on-going to bring a lot more into the tax net," he wrote.

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