The Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, has revealed that the federal government has so far paid a total of $5.4 billion to states for settlement of the Paris Club’s over deductions in 2018.
The minister, who disclosed this yesterday at the quarterly press briefing in Abuja, noted that despite the shortfall in revenue, the federal government also paid other inherited debts such as Joint Venture Cash Call ($6.8 billion); Contractors/Export Expansion Grant N1.9 trillion); and N488 billion as refund to states for roads.
While expressing the government’s dismay at revenue generating agencies whose performance she put at 53 per cent, Hajiya Ahmed said government will soon come out with reforms that will boost revenue generation.
It would be recalled that the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Nwabueze, at a meeting with Chief Executive Officers of Government Owned Enterprises listed agencies that are yet to remit their operating surplus to the federation account.
She said: “To take advantage of innovative technologies, we plan to leverage data, technological tools and platforms to foster collaboration, grow the revenue base and improve collections. Given the span of stakeholders that form our port community and for the sake of improving ease of doing business, we plan to deploy a national single window/trade platform that we expect to enhance customs collections to about 90% over a few years.
“We will also improve collaboration between our revenue collection agencies including the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other trade partners to share information and intelligence that will help improve revenue and make collections more efficient.
“By automating many of our revenue collection processes such as the deployment of healthpay in the health sector, edupay in education and e-Collections by our Revenue Authorities, we have seen revenue shored up to record high levels. More specifically, FIRS deployed the e-Services platform that has automated the end to end tax process from registration to collection of Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC).”
Fielding questions from journalists, the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler disclosed that out of the 2,000 property of corporate entities identified early this year that were not paying taxes, 561 of them had come forward to make payments.
He said 116 companies claimed not to own any of these properties, adding that 30 of them had actually written to the FIRS that the property in question do not belong to them.
Present at the briefing were the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Mrs. Patience Oniha, the Acting Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Mary Uduk, and the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Alli (retd).