The task before The New FIRS Chairman
The appointment of Mr. Mohammed Nami as the new executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, by President Muhammadu Buhari and his subsequent confirmation by the Senate nine days later attests to the urgency of the federal government to reposition the agency for optimum performance and results. Mr. Nami succeeds Mr. Babatunde Fowler.
It was evident in August that Mr. Fowler was on shaky grounds when the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr.Abba Kyari, queried the former tax boss of underperformance and poor tax collection results.
At the heart of that query was over variances between budgeted collections and actual collections between 2015 and 2018.
In the years under review, the actual amount collected under Fowler as tax actually fell below the budgeted target.
In 2015, the actual collection was put at N3.7trillion, while the budgeted target was N4.5trn. A similar shortfall occurred in 2016, when actual collection was N3.307trn, less than the N4.95trn budgeted target. Also, in 2017, the FIRS collected a total of N4.027trn, less than the set target of N4.89trn. In 2018, actual collection was N5.32trn, while the budgeted target was N6.7trn. However, to Fowler’s credit, the N5.32trn collected last year remains the highest tax ever collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service since inception.
Given his background as an experienced tax consultant, Mr. Nami is expected to surpass this figure during his tenure. Indeed the expectations are very high that he will do well.
We urge him to work with the different stakeholders in the Financial Sector to achieve results. He should get acquainted with the soon-to-be signed Nigeria Financial Bill 2019. When signed into law, every single bank account holder or Nigerian hoping to have one, can no longer hide from the taxman. What this simply means is that there is a ready pool of tax income which should swell the national purse if there is the will and proper remittances.
Without a doubt, the new executive chairman should understand that having a good working relationship with the labour unions is an incentive to a motivated workforce. While this newspaper does not subscribe to kowtowing to every demands of the unions, it is instructive that there will always be a middle ground which should be exploited.
In all, there is the optimism that Mr. Nami with his strong private sector experience should do well as Nigeria’s number one taxman. We share that optimism and wish him the very best in his new assignment
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