Published On: Tue, Aug 20th, 2019

Presidency: FIRS boss, Fowler not under probe, but…

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By Lawrence Olaoye

The Presidency yesterday clarified that the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Babatunde Fowlwer, was not under any investigation as insinuated by the media.
This is even as the presidency has raised the alarm that the nation may be heading for a fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to halt the negative trends in target setting and realisation in tax revenue.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, raised this observation in a statement seeking to explain the rationale behind a letter addressed to the Chairman of the
Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Babatunde Fowlwer, by the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, querying the inability of his agency to meet set revenue targets.
The statement reads, “Following reports making the rounds in some media outlets, it is necessary to state categorically that the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, is not under any investigation.
“The letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, on which the purported rumour of an investigation is based, merely raises concerns over the negative run of the tax revenue collection in recent times.
“Taking a cue from today’s (Monday) presentation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers-Designate, “Federal Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries , which dwelt on an ‘Overview of the Policies , Programmes and Project Audit Committee,’ a body he chaired, projected revenue of government falls behind recurrent expenditure even without having factored in capital expenditure.
“Consequently, it would appear that the country might be heading for a fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to halt the negative trends in target setting and target realisation in tax revenue.
“Anyone conversant with Federal Executive Council deliberations would have observed that issues bordering on revenue form the number one concern of what Nigeria faces today, and therefore, often take a prime place in discussions of the body.
“It is noteworthy and highly commendable that under this administration, the number of taxable adults has increased from 10 million to 20 million with concerted efforts still on-going to bring a lot more into the tax net.”

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