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2019: FIRS nets N4 trillion in nine months – Fowler

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) collected N4.012 trillion in the first three quarters (January-September) of this year, its Executive Chairman, Tunde Fowler, has disclosed.

The amount is N77.89 billion higher than the N3.941 trillion it collected within the corresponding period in 2018.

Fowler made the disclosure while addressing the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Thursday in Abuja.

He said although the amount collected represents N60.77 per cent of the N8. 8 trillion targets of the FIRS for 2019, he was optimistic the agency will surpass the N5.3 trillion it collected last year.

President Muhammadu Buhari in August queried Fowler over variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

In his response to the query, Fowler associated the general lower collection since 2015 to oil market crisis which he said: “slowed down economic activities”.

At his appearance before the Senate Committee on Thursday, Fowler said: “Kindly note that our budget for 2019 was raised by ₦2.02 trillion representing 30.4% increase over the 2018 budget i.e. ₦6.747 trillion in 2018 to ₦8.8 trillion in 2019.

“Our total tax collection to date represents 78.2% achievement of the corresponding budget of 2018. Based on the collection, we expect the total collection to equal ₦5.4 trillion by the end of 2019.”

He said the drive towards developing more sustainable sources of tax revenue by shifting the focus from oil revenue to non-oil was also yielding positive results.

Fowler said non-oil revenue collection for January to September stood at ₦2.423 trillion, representing 72 per cent achievement of the non-oil target for the period while oil revenue collection of ₦1.588 trillion represents 49 per cent achievement to target for the period.

He said the total collection in 2019 shows a percentage ratio of 61 per cent for non-oil revenue to 39 per cent for oil revenue, while non-oil collection grew by 13 per cent over the for the corresponding period in 2018.

“Please note that the noticeably low inflow of revenue from PPT for 2019 thus far, is as a result of the shortfall in PPT estimates filed by the International Oil Companies (IOC).

“This is resultant from huge losses carried forward and tax incentives arising from the Modified Carried Agreements (MCA) by Joint Venture (JV) partners, unutilized Investment Tax Credits carried forward by the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) contractors which subsequently reduced the profits available for Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT).

“This is further compounded by production constraints which have continued to fall below the projected figure of 2.3 million BPD for the year,” he said.

He said the target for FIRS as provided in the MTEF which is before the National Assembly is ₦8.5 trillion.

President Muhammadu Buhari in his National Independence address had warned that severe consequences will be meted on any of Nigeria’s revenue-generating agencies that fail to meet set targets.

In achieving its set target, Fowler listed strategies being implemented towards attaining the N8.8 trillion target as follows: ICT Initiatives, Compliance, and Enforcement Initiatives, International Tax Initiatives, Tax Amnesty Programme and Expansion of taxpayer database and other Initiatives.

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Akwa Ibom: DPR seals 13 illegal petrol stations

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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Eket Field Office, in Akwa Ibom has sealed 13 filling stations for acts of illegality and non-renewal of licenses in the state.

The DPR Operations Controller in the state, Tamunoiminabo Kingsley-Sundaye, disclosed this on Wednesday in Uyo during a routine surveillance on petrol stations.

Kingsley-Sundaye said the filling stations were sealed in Uyo, Essien Udim, Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Etim, Ika Local Government Areas of the state.

He explained that out of the 13 stations sealed, seven were sealed for non-approval to build or operate the stations while six did not renew their licenses.

“Seven of them do not have approval to build filling stations.

“The team of DPR on routine surveillance went out to some areas in Akwa Ibom to ensure compliance in terms of standard, safety engineering standard and operating standard,” he said.

The operations controller said the department had given prior warning to defaulting stations but they were recalcitrant and refused to comply with guidelines and standard of operations.

“There are some people who are adamant and they feel the system is weak or the government is weak to make them to obey the law. We will continue to do what is right,” Mr Kingsley-Sundaye said.

He said the department collaborated with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to arrest defaulters of oil and gas in the state in October.

He noted that after the arrest, a good number of the defaulters came back to do the right thing while two petroleum marketers, who were arrested, refused to do the right thing.

Kingsley-Sundaye added that those petroleum marketers who built filling stations without approved licenses would be sanctioned and prosecuted in the court of law.

“The department will approach court of law to prosecute the defaulters in the state.

“If your license expires, the law states, you don’t have the authority to continue doing such business.

“When you continue to operate illegally, it is a criminal matter but not a civil matter and the law enforcement agency will assist us to do what is right.

“It is cheaper for you to obey the law than to break it,” the operation controller said.

He advised some of the petroleum marketers to approach DPR if they wanted to build filling stations or site oil and gas facilities in the state.

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Court okays forfeiture order of N2.4bn properties linked to ex-PPMC boss

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The Federal government has secured an interim forfeiture order from the Federal High Court in Abuja to seize N2.4 billion and properties allegedly linked to a former Managing Director of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Haruna Momoh.

In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, on Monday, the ICPC alleged Momoh illegally acquired the said monies and properties.

The ICPC said the properties to be forfeited are Plot 199, Ebitu Ukiwe Street, Utako, Nos. 21, 22, 23 and 26 Olympia Estate, Kaura District, Plot 1824, Cadastral Zone, BO7, Katampe, plot 1827, Cadastral Zone, BO7, Katampe and No. 6 Casamance street, Wuse Zone 3, all in Federal Capital, Abuja.

The commission said its investigations had also revealed that the former PPMC boss allegedly abused his position by using cronies and shell companies to divert government funds.

It added that the accused had unlawfully used different companies to secure contracts from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without any corresponding evidence of execution.

”The ICPC had secured an interim forfeiture order from a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to seize the N2, 417, 037, 404 billion comprising of foreign and local currencies, stashed in multiple accounts in four different banks as well as five landed properties located in different parts of Abuja metropolis.

”He allegedly used Multi-Functions Nigeria Limited, Blaid Property limited and Blaid Construction Limited to carry out several unlawful activities running into billions of naira. Contracts were secured for the companies from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without any corresponding evidence of execution.”

Further, the commission said it traced four bank accounts with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) to Mr Momoh’s wife – in them was stashed the sum of N469.2 million in foreign and local currencies.

Also $1.7 million and N496.2 million respectively were found in an account with Union Bank.

”The wife has four bank accounts with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) where the combined sum of N469.2 million in foreign and local currencies was stashed and two other accounts with Union Bank, where the Commission found $1, 678, 975 million and N496, 137, 895 million respectively.

”ICPC further discovered Euro 173, 601.55, $5, 563.21 and N876, 209, 744 million three Stanbic IBTC bank accounts traced to Multi-functions Nigeria Limited and the sum of N800, 663.43 in Citibank also belonging to the same company.”

Justice Adeniyi, while granting the interim forfeiture, ruled that the money be placed in an interest-yielding escrow account in the name of ICPC.

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FG lists conditions to reopen borders

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The Federal government on Monday gave a list of conditions that must be met for it to reopen its borders.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, alongside members of the Inter-ministerial committee on the temporary partial closure of land borders, held a press briefing in Abuja to discuss the issues.

The nation’s borders have been closed for several weeks in a move the government said was to grow the local economy and reduce illegal importation.

The issue has generated controversy in the economy with many condemning the government for not providing palliatives to curb the expected rise in basic goods for families. Some also argue that the border closure violates Nigeria’s agreements within ECOWAS and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Other Nigerians have, however, commended the initiative saying it would help increase local production and use of made-in-Nigerian goods.

It was also reported how officials of the federal government said the closure has led to increased revenue for the Nigeria Customs Service and a reduction in the volume of petrol smuggled outside Nigeria. Mr Buhari has since extended the border closure to January next year.

However, some conditions were agreed upon by members of the Nigerian side of the tripartite committee set up to review the policy.

The conditions as stated by Mr Onyeama are as follows:

– Any import coming from outside an ECOWAS region and imported into an ECOWAS member state must maintain its original packaging. They must be escorted from the port directly to the designated entry point in the Nigerian border, presented to the Nigerian customs with their original packaging. Compromises will not be tolerated.

– Goods produced predominantly in ECOWAS member states must satisfy the ECOWAS rules of origin to avoid any possibility of downplay. Goods must be majorly produced in ECOWAS countries.

If the goods are coming from outside ECOWAS, the value addition must be over 30 per cent for it to be accepted within the framework of the Economic Trade Liberalisation Scheme that ECOWAS countries have to promote trade among them.

This is to avoid countries outside member states from exporting their goods into ECOWAS region repackaged, as though they are coming from an ECOWAS region.4

– All warehouses along the shared borders of Nigeria must be dismantled.

– Goods being transported must be put in proper recognized packaging. No longer will we have goods of all shapes and sizes going through the borders. To maintain the best practices of those goods, an accepted condition for packaging will be established.

– In regards to free movements of persons, all persons moving through Nigerian borders must present themselves through recognized entry points and must have recognized travel documents (country passport).

In two weeks Nigeria will be hosting a tripartite meeting (Niger, Benin, and Nigeria) to further review the policy.

Heads of ministries of foreign affairs, interior, finance, customs, immigration, NIA and other security segments will form the committees of each country represented.

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