Buhari Queries FIRS Chief over Tax Collection Decline

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The Chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari has issued a query letter to the chief executive of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler over worsening tax collection since 2015.

The letter queried the FIRS boss for consistently failing to hit the set target for tax collection since 2015 and why his tax receipts over the last four years were lower than that of the previous administration under former President, Goodluck Jonathan.

Sources within the FIRS confirmed the development to newsmen on Sunday after the issued letter querying Mr Fowler’s delivery went viral on the social media in the morning.

In the query stamp-dated August 8, the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, said the presidency “observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.”

The chief of staff asked the FIRS chief for cogent analysis explaining the reason for the variances between the budgeted and actual revenues.

Meanwhile, findings showed that since 2015, the FIRS under Mr Fowler has not been able to meet collection targets, a different trend from the preceding years. In 2015, FIRS set N4.7 trillion target but was only able to make N3.7 trillion in the actual collection. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the target collections were N4.2 trillion, N4.8 trillion and N6.7 trillion but the actual collections were N3.3 trillion, N4.0 trillion and N5.3 trillion, respectively.

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The consistent inability of the FIRS boss informed the decision of the Presidency to ask him for an explanation.

The letter reads in part: “Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018,” Mr Kyari wrote.

It could be recalled that Mr Fowler was appointed FIRS boss in 2015, the year Mr Buhari was elected president. He succeeded Samuel Odugbesan appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Analysis of Nigeria’s tax statistics showed that before Mr Buhari and Mr Fowler came in 2015, the only year FIRS could not meet its collection target was 2006 since the year 2000.

But in the query served Mr Fowler, the presidency only mentioned 2012 to 2014. “Further we have observed that actual collections for the period between 2015 and 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014,” stated Mr Kyari. “Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reasons for the poor collections.”

Mr. Fowler was asked to respond by Monday, August 19. Below is the query letter.

Samson Oyedeyi

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