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Promoting Good Governance.

Nigeria earns less tax revenue during Buhari administration, Tope Fasua

TOPE Fasua, the National Chairman of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) says the so-called tax reforms of the Muhammadu Buhari administration is a failure as the country is yet to earn from taxation as much as it did in 2013.

Fasua said this during a debate for presidential candidates in Abuja on Tuesday, attended by three political parties including the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He said he was not impressed with the recent Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) that was introduced by the Buhari administration. The scheme was aimed at getting Nigerians to voluntarily declare their assets for which they had not been paying appropriate taxes. In return, those who declared their assets would receive a significant waiver from the taxes accruable to their assets.

“VAIDS was a failure,” Fasua said. “VAIDS made less than ten per cent of what they (the Federal Inland Revenue Service) set out to make.

“They set out to make N350 billion (but) they didn’t make up to N30 billion. So there’s no tax reform.

“2013, maybe kudos to the guys in the PDP, was the year we made the most in the FIRS, we made N5.007 trillion in the FIRS. In 2014 we made N4.7 trillion. By 2015, when this government came, it went down to N3.7 trillion then climbed to 4.0.

“This year they’ve made about N4.3 trillion, they may close at N4.8 trillion. However, they devalued the currency by more than half…”

To clarify Fasua’s claim, the ICIR contacted the FIRS through its helplines as displayed on its website, but an official of the service, who gave his name simply as Ola, said he could not comment as the head of the service was the best person to comment on the issue.

The FIRS is notorious over the years for non-disclosure of relevant information either via its website or through freedom of information requests. The tax institution was 82nd on the 2018 FOI ranking list.

Fasua further said that “there is money in this country” but for bad governance.

“Why would Angola be making double our budget? Why is Angola budgeting $50 billion for 25 million people, Algeria budgeting $60, 68 billion, South Africa Budgeting $155 billion, and we say we are the Giant of Africa. Giant of people who are suffering.” he said.

However, checks by the ICIR revealed that while the 2018 budgets of the countries Fasua cited were higher than Nigeria’s in US Dollars, the figures were not the exact amount he quoted.

For instance, while Nigeria’s 2018 budget of N9.1 trillion amounts to about $25.2 billion, Angola’s 9.6 trillion kwanza is equal to about $31 billion, not the $50 billion Fasua quoted.

Similarly, Algeria’s 2018 budget in dollar terms is $133 billion, not 60 or 68 dollars, and South Africa’s budget of R1.67 trillion or $122 billion is less than the $155 billion Fasua claimed.

Several attempts to get clarification from Fasua failed as calls to his phone did not connect and an email sent to him was not replied.

Speaking further, Fasua said Nigeria has no business relying on crude oil as our major source of income, pointing out that even palm oil sells is more lucrative than crude.

“A barrel of crude oil sells for $50 dollars today. A barrel contains 159 liters, that means a liter of crude oil sells for N116 or thereabouts, (but) one liter of palm oil sells for about N4oo, and it takes less effort (to produce).”

He said Nigerians must think and act differently in order to move the country forward.

Fasua later explained via Facebook that the currencies of Angola and South Africa have “fallen drastically” in recent times, hence the discrepancies in the figures he quoted and what is obtainable today.

“If u research Angola’s currency you will realise it fell drastically lately,” he explained.

“9.6 trillion kwanza was worth $50 billion when I did my research months ago, and that was the amount in dollar terms WHEN THE BUDGET WAS MADE. Same for the (South African) Rand.

BOTTOM LINE is we say we are the largest economy in Africa but provide for our people as if they were ants! this is totally UNACCEPTABLE.”

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