Okonjo-Iweala tasks FIRS on improved revenue collection

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala made the call when she visited FIRS headquarters.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, has tasked the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, on the need for renewed efforts in revenue collection.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Director, Communications and Liaison Department of FIRS, Emmanuel Obeta, on Tuesday in Abuja.

The statement said Ms. Okonjo-Iweala made the call when she visited FIRS headquarters to remind the staff and management of the organisation’s role in Nigeria’s bid to source more non- oil revenue.

She urged the members of staff to be professional in carrying out their duties.

“As you can see, we have challenges from oil revenue from two sides. On one side, we have experienced a quantity shock because of oil theft.

“Though we budgeted oil at 79 dollars, prices are coming down. That means the amount we can save in the excess crude is diminishing.

“In the past, before we had these savings in the excess, we will be rushing to the IMF or World Bank for funding. Are we doing that now? The answer is no,’’ the minister said.

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said Nigeria is not going for balance of payment support from the IMF or budget support from the World Bank, because we can cushion ourselves for the next five to six months while we sought out the problem.

“I am very proud of that as a country, any country that can manage to do that is not a Banana Republic,’’ she said.

She also said that trade taxes made up a substantial amount of revenue for the country, adding that with the new reform that restricted importation of certain commodities such as rice, more effort had to be made to source from other sectors.

“What it means is that the import of rice this year has dropped dramatically. Part of it is due to the fact that people imported last year in anticipation, so we had large import last year.

“Now they are not importing, tariffs have gone up and the demand for import is down. People are not importing.

“So trade taxes are down and it is going to stay like that for palm oil, sugar, rice, wheat and all other products.

“We are now trying to grow them ourselves, if that is the case, it means we are losing another source of revenue to the economy,’’ she said.

The statement said the Acting Chairman of FIRS, Kabir Mashi, received Ms. Okonjo-Iweala on arrival and described her visit as a privilege to the service.

“It is a privilege to have Okonjo- Iweala, who is the supervising minister, visit us and provide guidance for the success of our assignment.”

Chairman Joint Union Council of the FIRS, Samsom Okere, speaking at the occasion, thanked the minister for her visit.

(NAN)


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