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N50bn Tax Evasion; Senate summons bank MDs

by on February 8, 2017
 

The Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory Administra­tion (FCTA) has sum­moned the managing directors of commercial banks operating in the territory over their banks’ failure to remit taxes in excess of N50 billion.

Chairman of the commit­tee, Senator Dino Melaye, made the disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting of his com­mittee with the FCTA Ministry, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and the Ministry of Jus­tice.

The meeting began on a dramatic note when Senator Melaye walked out a Depu­ty Director in the Ministry of Justice, Ms. Memuna Shira who appeared for her boss, the At­torney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Melaye stated that as the chief law officer, the Attorney

General should have known the constitutional implications of not honouring an invitation from the Senate, the highest lawmaking body in the coun­try, much less send a Deputy Director to appear in his stead.

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“We will not allow anybody or institution to take the Senate for granted. For the AGF, it is even worse. Nobody should know the law better and understand the na­tion’s constitution better than the AGF. If he’s not here at the end of this meeting, we shall give a con­sequential order,” Melaye stressed.

However, a few minutes af­ter handing down the threat, the minister showed up, apologising profusely that the Deputy Direc­tor was only to inform the sena­tors that he would be late in com­ing, in addition to an earlier letter conveying the same message, and not to represent him.

On the issue of over N50 bil­lion which was alleged to be un­remitted taxes by banks operat­ing in the FCT, Melaye directed that the bank chiefs would have to appear before his panel to ex­plain how they intend to clear the backlog which he stressed was im­portant for the financial health of the FCT in the face of dwindling allocations from the Federation Account.

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He regretted that the FCT was still struggling to become a world class city, over 40 years after its cre­ation.

Melaye stated that the situa­tion was worsened by the astro­nomical rise in the population of Abuja from a mere two million in 1999 to over 12 million in 2016.

In his submission, the FCT Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello, disclosed that his ad­ministration realised over N28 bil­lion as Internally-Generated Reve­nue (IGR) in 2016 against the N21 billion projected in the budget.

He noted that the adminis­tration’s failure to appoint an IGR Board since President Muham­madu Buhari dissolved all boards in mid-2015 as a challenge to the remittance of taxes by individuals and organisations in the FCT.

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According to the minister, the absence of an IGR Board prompt­ed his administration to partner with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in the collection of taxes on the understanding that FIRS would take 4% commission on all remittances.

Bello’s disclosure drew the ire of members of the committee, with Senator John Enoh (PDP Cross River) insisting that the fail­ure to set up an IGR Board for the FCT close to two years “made it seem like rocket science.”

He maintained that the fail­ure to set up such a board to col­lect taxes on behalf of the FCT appeared to make the minister comfortable with the paltry allo­cations from the Federation Ac­count.

 

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