President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and other related government agencies to plug all revenue loopholes by ensuring strict compliance with tax payments by foreign companies operating in Nigeria.
The president, who gave the directive at the virtual First National Tax Dialogue held at the Conference Hall of the State House, Abuja, also stressed the need for the deployment of more digital platforms and seamless connections.
Buhari ordered all government agencies to automate operations; and ensure more synergy in advancing the interest of the nation in revenue generation.
“It is not enough that our citizens and local businesses pay their fair share of taxes.
”Equally, foreign businesses must also not be allowed to continue to exploit our markets and economy; without paying appropriate taxes.
”Accordingly, the FIRS has my mandate to speedily put all measures in place; to fully implement programmes to stamp out Base Erosion and Profit Shifting in all their ramifications; and generally automate its tax processes.
“In line with this, I have directed all government agencies and business enterprises to grant FIRS access to their systems for a seamless connection.
”FIRS must ensure that its deployment of technology for automation is done in line with international best practices. In particular, FIRS can borrow a leaf from other countries which have successfully automated their tax processes,’’ Buhari said.
According to the president, Nigeria will continue to work with the Inclusive Framework (on equal footing) to develop internationally acceptable rules for taxation of the digital economy.
He expressed optimism that the Inclusive Framework would have evolved into an acceptable multilateral solution; that will comprehensively address the tax challenges of the digitalised economy by the middle of 2021.
Buhari assured citizens that the government would continue to pursue its mandate of improving lives through investments in infrastructural projects like railways, roads, electricity, healthcare, and education, in spite of dwindling revenues and the challenge of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Our government has continued to pursue all those projects despite the massive decline in government revenues occasioned by a combination of factors among which is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The devastating effect of COVID-19 on the health and economy of the world is evident; across every stratum of our society.
”It is obvious to every citizen of this country that our economy is not immune from the global economic downturn.
”As such, we have had to confront the conflicting situations of reflating the economy; and at the same time raising revenue to meet our budgetary needs.
”It is within this context that the government undertook an expansive budgetary projection of over N13 trillion for 2021.’’
The president said the government had “inevitably resorted to deficit budgeting; as a result of declining revenues for some years,’’ resulting in to an increase in Nigeria’s debt profile.