Nami at House of Reps, clarifies FIRS position on tax waivers

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The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami, has disclosed that the Service does not grant tax waivers to any local or foreign investors in the country as the FIRS Act does not empower it to grant such tax breaks. 

Nami disclosed on Friday in Abuja during his appearance before the House of Representatives’  Public Accounts Committee investigating alleged tax waivers granted to three foreign firms operating in Nigeria.

The firms are Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and OIS Indorama Eleme, Port Harcourt.

Nami said: “The FIRS does not have the power or responsibility of facilitating or implementing incentives to local investors or investors coming through the Foreign Direct Investment platform, which is the sole prerogative of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).”

Nami pointed out that “the investigation of the three foreign firms, Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and OIS Indorama Eleme Port Harcourt, started way back in 2015.  The committee in charge of the investigation has consistently been furnished with all required documents by the FIRS.”

He further stated that the companies under consideration “have been variously granted pioneer status between December 15, 1997 to 2016 for the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd and between 2017 – 2020 for the Indorama Fertilizer and Chemicals Ltd respectively.”

According to him, “upon expiration of the pioneer period and conclusion of post pioneer Audit, the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd company’s tax file was returned to the Large Tax Office (LTO) Port Harcourt. Thus far, the company has filed its annual returns up to 31st December 2019 with relevant Self-Assessment and paid its attendant liabilities.”

He, therefore, pleaded with the Public Accounts Committee “to always avail itself of the opportunity to work closely with the custodians of FIRS records, such as the Coordinating Directors, Directors and Tax Controllers as do other House Committees like the Committee on Finance, to enhance its investigation at any time.”

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts had, through a letter dated May 27, 2021, invited to the Executive Chairman of the FIRS to appear at its public hearing slated for June 9, 2021 over alleged revenue leakages involving the three foreign firms.

However, according to the Director, Communications and Liaison, Dr Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, the FIRS Executive Chairman could not honour the committee’s summons on that date due to other pressing engagements which included board meetings.

Appearing in person on the rescheduled date, Nami noted with satisfaction the cordial relationship between the FIRS and the legislators since he assumed office in December 2019.

He seized the opportunity to reiterate that “the mandate of the FIRS is to assess, collect and account for tax revenue.” This mandate, he stressed, “is clear and unambiguous.”

Nami used the opportunity to call for a continuous cordial working relationship between the National Assembly and the FIRS “especially in this critical time when tax revenue has become crucial to the operations of the three tiers of government.” 

He assured that the FIRS under his watch “is very keen on collaborating with the honourable members of the Committee and other critical stakeholders in the National Assembly on the Automatic Exchange of Information on tax evasion, tax avoidance and other related issues.”

Nami concluded his remarks by emphasising that he remains focused on the task of revenue collection which the Federal government assigned him to undertake. This task, he noted, “has its challenges, more so with the ravaging impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and the overall economy. The Management of FIRS is working assiduously to achieve the revenue target set for it by the Federal Government and is not relenting in that objective.”

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