• Says N568bn Cases Pending Before Tax Tribunals
Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Monday said the Federal Government has released N995bn in total for capital projects between January and December 21, 2018.
Addressing a world press conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital, the Minister said this was in addition to paying 100% of salaries and debt service, apart from seven months overhead funding for Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The Minister also announced that the Federal Government recovered N35bn under the Voluntary Assets & Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), with a significant recorded increase to the country’s tax base.
She stressed that the eight tax tribunals established “will accelerate the resolution of 209 pending cases relating to tax revenues. Through this tax dispute resolution mechanism, we hope to reduce incidences of tax evasion and improve payers’ confidence.”
Continuing, Mrs. Ahmed said the recently constituted Tax Appeal Tribunals (TATs) across the country to resolve the pending cases relating to tax revenues estimated at N568.-57bn. Specifically, the Minister put the value of such cases at $18.804bn, N204.654bn and £0.821m.
The Ministry’s asset tracing team also discovered assets that were not reported in the books of accounts of the federation, while the Efficiency Unit has been charged with reviewing the Federal Government’s overhead expenditures.
Continuing, she explained that the Ministry’s Whistleblower Unit recovered N8.5bn in all, within the period under review, as well as $465m, among others, from 1,051 investigations conducted based on tip offs received.
Despite the country’s challenging fiscal terrain, she said revenue generation improved by 40% in the third quarter of this year, a level she described as “unsatisfactory to our revenue targets of 53%.”
Consequently, the Minister directed that action on all Federal Government revenue initiatives be expedited.
“We have adopted a prudent debt management strategy that ensures that we invest what we borrow in capital projects. Although our debt of 18.4% of GDP as at June 2018 is at a sustainable level and particularly low when compared with our peers, the debt service to revenue ratio is unsatisfactory to our administration. Consequently, reducing the debt service expenditure is a priority.”
The Ministry, she continued, is collaborating with the Debt Management Office (DMO) to reduce debt servicing expenditures by reducing Nigeria’s domestic debt from 64.3% at the end of 2018Q2. This, she said, will enable the country increase its uptake of foreign, long-term external debt that is not only cheaper but often comes with longer maturing periods.