The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on Wednesday told officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) that realizing the tax target of N4.957 trillion for 2016 was non-negotiable and that no room should be left for failure.
The minister, who was speaking in Abuja at the 2016 annual Corporate Strategy Retreat of the FIRS, said this underlined the seriousness the federal government attached to the FIRS’ attainment of its 2016 revenue generation target.
“There is really no room for failure. Really, it’s non-negotiable. FIRS must deliver, because the whole nation will depend on it to fund the budget. We need the money to stabilize the economy,” Mrs. Adeosun said.
Apart from the professional pride of the workers, the minister pointed out that the satisfaction they were likely to derive from working for the revenue agency should inspire them to help build the nation by realizing the revenue target.
“Realizing the tax target is not a joke. We need everybody to do his/her beat to ensure that everybody contributes to the achievement of the target. I look forward to the excellent ideas that will improve revenue generation at the end of the retreat,” she said.
The minister acknowledged past efforts by the FIRS to realise its mandate, particularly since its new Chairman, Tunde Fowler, resumed duties.
At the opening of the retreat on Tuesday, Mr. Fowler had announced that the FIRS has set tax target of N4.957 trillion for 2016.
A breakdown of the target, the chairman explained, showed that N3.87 trillion would come from Value Added Tax and Companies Income Tax this year, about 78.42 per cent of the N4.957 trillion tax revenue targeted for 2016.
The FIRS boss declared as unacceptable the tax revenue target for the year, arguing that this was not a reflection of the Service’s capacity.
He said he was particularly not pleased with the poor level of VAT collection, pointing out that based on his experience in the administration of a tax similar to VAT at the state level, the yield should be higher and easy to collect.
Mr. Fowler said that even the relatively good performance for CIT, which saw a collection of over N122 billion, was only possible with the direct supervision from his office in the last three months of 2015, without which the collection would have been less than 85 per cent.
The FIRS, he announced, was collaborating with state governments, tax consultants, major audit firms, stakeholders in the federal system, including the National Assembly in pursuit of its assignment.
He said the FIRS Federal Engagement and Enlightenment Tax Teams, (FEETT) was undertaking a nationwide VAT and Withholding tax monitoring and taxpayer registration exercise to sensitize the people on the need to discharge their civic responsibility as appropriate.
Various speakers at the event emphasized the important role FIRS would play in providing revenue towards the realization of the federal government’s plan for 2016.
Present at the event were Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, and his Federal Capital Territory, FCT, counterpart, Muhammed Bello; Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris; Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, John Enoh; and Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Austin Chukwurah.
Representatives of key accounting and tax audit firms, namely KPMG, Ernst Young, Akintola Williams and Delloite, PEDABO, FITC Consulting, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, proferred ways the FIRS could be innovative, increase tax yield, expand tax base and encourage taxpayers to pay their taxes happily.