The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) says Nigeria lost N1.3trillion to granting of tax waivers to companies operating in three sectors of the economy in the last five years.
Chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami, made the disclosure at an investigative hearing organised for revenue generating agencies in the country.
The hearing was organised by the Senate Committee on Finance.
Mr Muhammad, while making his remark, said, “When I resumed office, I realised that from these waivers alone, we reviewed just three sectors, a total sum of 1.3 trillion naira was lost as tax revenue in five years.
“This is just three sectors out of myriads of waivers that have been granted to these people.
“These people mostly are doing well and have much money from Nigeria, they exploited the lacuna in our laws, obtain waivers and worked away with over 1.3 trillion naira in the last five years,” he said.
Mr Mohammed noted that FIRS had issues with funding of its operations, given the huge personnel cost of the organisation.
“So, we have issues that has to do with inadequate funding of our operations too.
“This is actually the issues we want the senate to look at when we come up in our quarterly meeting.
“We have huge overhead cost, our overhead should be the largest in the country now.
“We have about 10,000 employees and the little we generate, given the huge personal cost, we are left with little to fund our operation.
“On this note, we want to appeal that you carry out an upward reform in the cost our collection,” he said.
He said the inability of the FIRS to meet its target on revenue generation was not unconnected with the issues of insecurity, slow growth and ease of doing business in the country.
He said the tax waiver granted had also compounded the issue of illicit financial flows from the country.
The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, while making a remark, said there was the need to energise the petroleum sector to generate more funds for the country.
He urged the senate to pass the petroleum industry law to move the sector forward.
He said the smooth working of the oil and gas sector would trigger increased growth of other sectors and the economy in general.
Earlier, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his remark, said the senate would be engaging the revenue generating agencies in the country quarterly on their revenue generating activities into the federation account.
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Mr Lawan said the exercise was not designed to probe the agencies, but to discuss the best measures to generate, collect and remit the revenues to government coffers.
He said the envisaged quarterly meetings with revenue generating agencies would reveal to the senate, areas it could assist the agencies to meet their revenue targets.
This, Mr Lawan said, would be done via legislative intervention.
He revealed that the quarterly meetings would be held in March, June, September and December, reassuring that the meetings would not be a probe of the agencies’ financial activities but to discuss measures to enhance more revenue flow to government.
Present at the investigating hearing were heads and officials of revenue generating agencies in the country.