Fraud alarm at FIRS: Buhari queries Fowler over variances
All is not well in the house of the taxman as the Presidency has issued a stern query to the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler over variances in budgeted collections and actual tax collections. He has a deadline of Monday, August 19 to answer the query and explain the differentials.
According to impeccable sources at the Presidency, President Muhammadu Buhari was angry with the low tax collections at FIRS contrary to claims that the Service had surpassed projections.
The query dated August 8 and signed by Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President, was clear: “We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each of the years 2015 to 2018.”
The query also noted that the actual collections for “the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014”. This means that more taxes were collected under President Goodluck Jonathan than under Buhari in spite of the recruitment of Mr Fowler who is touted as one of the best tax men in Nigeria.
There had been claims in the media by FIRS and some officials of government that the tax collection agency has improved significantly on tax collections but this does not reflect on the actual collections transmitted to the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The Presidency was also said to be in shock as to why despite claims that more Nigerians are now paying taxes, actual collections do not reflect the claim.
Some persons have insinuated political motive into the sudden query, claiming it was a way of weeding out Mr Fowler from the system to pave the way for someone from the North.