The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami, has clarified that the Service had never grant tax waiver to any local and foreign investors in the country, saying that the FIRS Act does not empower it to grant such tax breaks.
Muhammad Nami spoke today, June 11 in Abuja, when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Public Accounts Committee investigating alleged tax waivers granted to three foreign firms operating in the country.
The firms are Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and OIS Indorama Eleme Port-Harcourt
The FIRS stressed that the Service does not have the power or responsibility of facilitating or implementing incentives to local investors or investors coming through the Foreign Direct Investment platform, which is the sole prerogative of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
“The investigation of the three foreign firms, Indorama Petrochemical, Indorama Fertilizer and Petrochemical Ltd and OIS Indorama Eleme Port-Harcourt, started way back in 2015. The committee in charge of the investigation has consistently been furnished with all required documents by the FIRS.”
He said that the companies under consideration have been variously granted pioneer status between December 15th, 1997 to 2016 for the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd and between 2017 – 2020 for the Indorama Fertilizer and Chemicals Ltd respectively. According to him, upon expiration of the pioneer period and conclusion of post pioneer Audit, the Indorama Petrochemical Ltd company’s tax file was returned to the Large Tax Office (LTO) Port Harcourt.
“Thus far, the company has filed its annual returns up to 31st December 2019 with relevant Self-Assessment and paid its attendant liabilities.”
He, therefore, pleaded with the Public Accounts Committee to always avail itself of the opportunity to work closely with the custodians of FIRS records, such as the Coordinating Directors, Directors and Tax Controllers as do other House Committees like the Committee on Finance, to enhance its investigation at any time.
Recall that the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts had written a letter of invitation dated 27th May 2021 to the Executive Chairman of the FIRS to appear at its public hearing slated for 9 June 2021 on alleged revenue leakages involving the three foreign firms.
However, the FIRS Executive Chairman could not honour the Committee’s summons on that date due to other pressing engagements which included Board meetings.
Appearing in person on the rescheduled date, Nami noted with satisfaction, the cordial relationship between the FIRS and the legislators since he assumed office in December 2019.
He seized the opportunity to reiterate that the mandate of the FIRS is to assess, collect and account for tax revenue, adding that this mandate “is clear and unambiguous.”
Nami used the opportunity to call for a continuous cordial working relationship between the National Assembly and the FIRS “especially in this critical time when tax revenue has become crucial to the operations of the three tiers of government.”
He assured that the FIRS under his watch is very keen on collaborating with the Honourable Members of the Committee and other critical stakeholders in the National Assembly on the Automatic Exchange of Information on tax evasion, tax avoidance and other related issues.
Nami emphasised that he remained focused on the task of revenue collection which the Federal Government had assigned him to undertake.
“This task has its challenges, more so with the ravaging impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and the overall economy. The Management of FIRS is working assiduously to achieve the revenue target set for it by the Federal Government and is not relenting in that objective.”