Fowler replies to query, blames low tax revenue on oil crisis

• Presidency says FIR chair not under probe
• PDP accuses Buhari, APC of complicity

Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Tunde Fowler, has responded to the query issued him by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, regarding the low tax collection in the last three years he has held sway.

Agreeing that that actual tax collection since the beginning of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was lower than the 2012 to 2014 period under former President Goodluck Jonathan in general terms, Fowler noted that the FIRS under his watch had performed better regarding specific non-oil tax types such as value added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT).He associated the overall lower collection since 2015 to the oil market crisis which has seen a fall in commodity price compared to the period under Jonathan, and recession “which slowed down economic activities.”

The presidency had sought an explanation for the somewhat average revenue receipt of the service.This comes as the Federal Government stated yesterday that Fowler was not under any probe

The clarification was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.He explained that the letter from Kyari on which basis the reports of an investigation were based “merely” raises concerns over the negative run of tax revenue collection in recent times.

The spokesman submitted that anyone conversant with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) 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 to 20 million with concerted efforts ongoing to bring a lot more into the tax net,” he added.

However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) of complicity in the alleged “siphoning of trillions of naira of taxpayers’ money collected by FIR”, adding that the “discovery” had further confirmed its stance that the current administration “is neck-deep in alleged corruption and looting of our common patrimony.”

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiya, the main opposition party said: “This discovery of variances in the remission of taxes has vindicated our concerns about underhand dealings and frittering of monies collected as taxes in the last four years.”

PDP noted that Nigerians were not “deceived by the desperation by agents of the Buhari presidency to cover its complicity by seeking a fall guy in the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler.”

The party argued that “a critical study of the leaked correspondence from the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, to the FIRS Chairman at the wake of the revelations of financial discrepancies at FIRS totally betrays the complicity of the cabal in the Buhari presidency.”

As reported from guardian

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