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‘Navy, Police evade tax’ •NEPA, NPA owe N18bn VAT

Posted by Chiawo Nwankwo, Abuja on 2005/07/14 | Views: 302 |

‘Navy, Police evade tax’ •NEPA, NPA owe N18bn VAT


The Federal Inland Revenue Service disclosed on Thursday that National Electric Power Authority and the Nigerian Ports Authority were owing N18billion VAT proceeds collected on its behalf at the end of 2002.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service disclosed on Thursday that National Electric Power Authority and the Nigerian Ports Authority were owing N18billion VAT proceeds collected on its behalf at the end of 2002.

The Police and Navy, it added, had not been paying tax since 2002 and had been intimidating their staff that went to their offices to ensure compliance.

FIRS’ Executive Chairman, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui, said these in Abuja, while responding to queries by the Auditor-General of the Federation on the operations of her agency before the House of Representatives.

She also disclosed that President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar had been included in the taxpayers list in the new bill on tax reforms, which it had submitted to the National Assembly.

According to her, only commissioned officers in the Army pay tax, while the rank and file were exempted contrary to global practice.

Details of the debt showed that NEPA owed N8billion, comprising VAT and income tax, while NPA owed N10billion.

She said that Halliburton, which originally owed the Federal Government $15million as tax, had paid $6million, just as another N68million in local currency was outstanding.

Omoigui said that at the last meeting Halliburton and FIRS had with Obasanjo, the president told the officials of the oil firm that he would not lift the ban placed on it until it had liquidated its tax debt.

Halliburton, however, had been contesting the accuracy of its tax debt.

She noted that while NPA was making effort to clear its debt arrears, NEPA had remained adamant.

"NEPA needs to give FIRS a repayment plan. But up till today, we do not have that from it. We can re-negotiate on the penalties but not on the principal," she said.

She said that the Managing Director of NEPA, Mr. Joseph Makoju, had promised her agency that the power authority would find a solution to its indebtedness before the end of July.

But the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts Committee, Mr. Adeyemi Oluwole, in his response said, "It is a pity that NEPA is an irresponsible organisation. They know that the money does not belong to it because it is just a conduit pipe for the collection of the VAT from its customers.

The audit report had stated, "At the Mosaic House, Lagos, schedules of payment and computer print out for the Police and Navy, which hitherto served as returns of revenue were observed to have been stopped."

"These schedules of payment/computer printout serve as source of information during audit examination and without which the names ranks, and amount paid by each officer cannot been known."

However, following a request by the FIRS boss to the House to intervene, Oluwole, promised that the House and FIRS would send a delegation to the president, to discuss the matter.

"A delegation of the House and FIRS will be raised immediately to meet with the President to discuss the issue. Everywhere the world over, tax payment is taken with utmost seriousness," he said.

He therefore gave FIRS seven days to forward to the Committee, names of all offenders, including staff of the agency, that whose abuse of their office had resulted loss of revenue to the agency.

Other notable breaches were the non-remittance of N772million VAT, collected at its Wuse office in Abuja, N21million, collected at its area office in Abeokuta, Ogun State between from 1997 to 2002.

Also, the case of N508million VAT from the same Abeoukuta office allegedly paid into the Central bank of Nigeria, under the same period, was not reflected in the apex banks statements presented to the auditor.

At the Ikeja area tax office, Lagos, eight companies income tax of N118million was not paid in 2002, most of which remained unpaid up till 2005, while 26 firms failed to file their annual tax return as required by law.

Also, the auditor could not trace another N67million collected from the same zone, allegedly paid into the CBN account, at the time of audit examination.

From FIRS Kano office, N48million was outstanding companies income tax, out of N282.1million when the auditor raised its query.

A total of N26.3million appear to become bad debt as the companies owing the amount had become dormant.

In Benue State, income tax owed by companies totalled N76.million collected from 1997 to 2002, while Education Tax was N37.2million.

The committee, which was disbursed by the high level of tax evasion in the country by corporate bodies and individuals, assured the FIRS of the House total support in reviewing the tax laws.

"This is our own (Federal Government) resource control and everybody owing must pay, the committee will make sure that some people go to jail," Oluwole said.

The Punch, Friday, July 15, 2005

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.