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FG recovers over N100bn unremitted taxes, as Reps probe NNPC subsidiaries, 23 banks

By on May 20, 2013

Facts emerged at the weekend, that Federal Government has recovered over N100 billion unremitted taxes sequel to the ongoing investigation initiated by the House of Representatives on commercial banks’ tax accrued to the Federal Government.

Abdulmumin Jubrin, chairman House Committee on Finance explained that the investigation became imperative following alleged sharp practices levelled against 23 designated tax-collecting banks on collection and remittance to government.

He however alleged that management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has frustrated the efforts of the Committee on the presentation of the account of individual subsidiaries of the corporation.

The lawmaker noted that the dual roles of banks as tax- collecting agents for government as well as being tax payers created some gaps that must be bridged.

Jibrin, who confirmed the investigation of the banks, said “before, our meeting with the bank Executives was meant to be an interactive session but now, we have officially opened up a full investigation based on facts and figures from documents available to us from our consultants and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“We have earlier invited FRIS and they have availed us documents that will have far reaching effects on this exercise. Their presentation was quite revealing. As part of the bank’s responsibility as tax collectors, the FIRS revealed to us that there has been a couple of challenges, in fact FIRS had instances where they had to delist or blacklist a bank from collecting tax on its behalf because of late remittances.

“What we discover in our findings was that some banks deliberately engaged in delaying remittance. So, what they do, as against the guidelines of the FIRS, when they collect the taxes was to delay the stipulated period of remitting it to the FIRS so that they can keep the money with them and use it for other purposes like trading and so on.

“Though, eventually they will remit the money to the government but they found it convenient to keep it beyond the stipulated period for their own advantage and to the detriment of the Federal government. It is the intention of the Committee to look critically into this, with a view of correcting these lapses.

“For instance, for such accounts, it is important that reconciliation be done because of allegation of unnecessary and inappropriate charges on such funds by banks. We are interested in that too. This is because year after year, banks declare huge profits but we want to see what they are putting into government coffers as tax payers.”

Jubrin who stressed the need for cooperation among the parties, the money when recovered will help the country to reduce the over N1 trillion budget deficit in the 2013 Appropriation act.

He said “as we promised Nigerians, we want to look at every aspect where government is making money. Where government is making money, let us improve, where money is not been made but with opportunities, lets explore and open up such places.

“Remember we have done government’s revenue generating agencies and with reports from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation, hitherto recalcitrant agencies have started responding positively. Report showed that additional N100 billion has been remitted by those agencies.

“We need to know if the banks are paying to government what they are supposed to pay and if there is any instance of evasion, we will not hesitate expose it to Nigerians. In the final analysis, whatever their challenges, we will look into various law, Acts that have been in existence so that we can amend, repeal and re-enact if need be so that we can have a strengthened process of tax collection in the country.”