By Etuka Sunday
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has said that a total sum of N13.8 billion has so far been recovered from tax evaders through tips from Whistleblowers.
Mrs Adeosun who gave the hint during the Quarterly Media Briefing in Abuja, said, efforts are onto pay about 14 people who gave specific tips on tax evasion.
Giving the figures, she said: “the Whistleblower policy started quite a while ago in December 2016 and since then we’ve had 8,373 communications of which 1,231were actually tips, we’ve done 531investigations, we’ve got 10 under prosecution and secured 4 convictions.
“The number of what we’ve recovered so far is 7.8billion naira, 378 million dollars and 27,800pounds.”
Speaking on the payment of Whistleblowers, he said, “we pay the whistle blowers in batches, this month’s batch, for the first time, we are paying 439million, 276thousand, 99naira and 86 kobo to about 14 people who gave us specific tips on tax evasion.
“Because of the specific information they gave us about companies who have deliberately as a policy underpaid their taxes. We were able with that specific information go into those companies, communicate with them and we’ve been able to recover the sum of N13.8 billion as a result of those specific tips and so we are paying that set of whistle blowers this month.
“That’s different for us because most of the whistle blowers in the past have been about stolen money, we’ve been on the Voluntary Assets Income Declaration Scheme tax, we are getting far more tips on tax evasion which of course is a crime against us all, so that is just the new trend we have seen and brought to your notice, those people are being paid this month.
“This is the first time we’ve had that number, and the money actually has been paid to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)”, she said.
According to her, the present government strategy on tax payment is working.
“We will continue to focus on tax collection, the indication we have so far is that the strategy of this Government is working. We are having increasing number people paying, we having companies paying the right taxes, we have not noticed any new taxes, this is the taxes that people should have been paying.
“Think there is general awareness that government is serious on this issue, and we will continue to focus on it, because that is the only way in which we can provide sustainable revenues to provide development especially education, health and job creation,” he said.