Thursday, 12 January 2017

Ex-Minister urges President Buhari to call Federal Inland Revenue boss to order

By on 15:50
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Genera Sam Momah, former Minister of Science & Technology

A call has gone to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari to call the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, Mr. Tunde Fowler to order as some of the measures adopted by his field officers in effort to drive revenue for the government are not only uncivilized but highly unethical and anti-investor friendly.
 Making the call during the launching of his new book ‘Nigeria’s Break-Up: Grave Consequences and Solutions’ in Abuja at the tail end of year 2016, General Sam Momah a former minister of Science and Technology warned Mr. Fowler to mind the privacy and integrity of investors in the country as they are not criminals to be meted with public disgrace in the name of raking revenues for government.

Giving his opinion on the issue of multiple taxes in a recession economy, the General who is a former member of the Provisional Ruling Council reacted tackled the question like this “I think it is a very, very serious problem. We are in a recession; everybody including the government knows that the economy is in the woods, that most businesses can not even pay salaries.
Babatunde Fowler....The FIRS boss. His men allegedly arrests and disgrace investors
But they (FIRS) come up with this taxation that is driving everybody crazy. I had the unfortunate experience of them (FIRS) arresting the GM of a firm I know and taking him somewhere because, according to them ‘they haven’t paid their tax’. Normally, you pay everything you want to pay, you pay your vat, you pay your company income tax, and you pay education levy tax and all that. Suddenly, they will just come with one fictitious amount and they will say ‘go and pay’.
General Momah who is the pioneer director of the National War College, Abuja spoke of Mr. Fowler’s crazy theatrics as one which does not respect investor’s confidence in any way; he cited instances where some expatriates were bundled with trepidation to FIRS office to coerce them to pay “We found out that some expatriates were equally arrested recently in Abuja. I mean expatriates who have come to invest in Nigeria. They were arrested and treated like common criminals. So, how can you get investors when you now harass expatriates? If somebody does not pay tax, you have the normal courts you can approach; not getting him locked up in some FIRS detention centers, embarrassing the person. And when you see them go for this tax drive, they go with lorry loads of armed police men, intimidating the owners of the business. Humiliating them, I think it is not fair. If we are talking about unemployment problem, we shouldn’t malign the private sector so badly because government is no longer employing, it is only private individuals that are employing a few people of whom if they lay them off, there will be anarchy on our streets”.
President Muhammadu Buhari.....Momah wants his government to advise Fowler on How to go about Government Revenues
Momah advised Fowler to take things easy “I think the head of FIRS must thread softly and know that this is not revision. What he did in Lagos was successful when the economy was still stable and booming.  It can’t happen now because businesses are not making it”.

The 74 years old elder statesman added “I think he has to watch his steps because high handedness will not solve the problem. I think the Federal Government should call him to order and let him try and be very civilized and follow due process in pursuing his tax efforts. But doing it high-highhandedly will harm the economy. Now, that we need investors, we need people to employ people, if you just malign them and humiliate them, of course they will lay off the workers and that will lead to anarchy”
General Sam Momah's New Book
General Momah who has authored 8 books on diplomacy, technology and regional integration in Africa further urged Mr. Muhammadu Buhari’s government to diversify in order to build a buoyant economy “Diversification is a prime issue at this point in time. A mono economy depending on oil is risky. Recently, our export was around two trillion dollars and out of which almost 1.9 came from oil exports. That means that non-oil exports are nothing to write home about. So, we must diversify and that is why I stated in my new book that there should be a massive agricultural program in the states and local government areas. States must be given targets to achieve. We don’t want a federation where governors do everything, no. We must enforce this, because the states are collecting monies from Federal Government.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo....Head of the Nigeria Economic Team
You can’t collect money from me and I don’t bother what you do with the money. And I am happy that during the inaugural speech of Mr. President, he did say that he will not just move away from the state because if they collect money from Federal, Federal must make sure that the money is effectively used and in fact, decide what they use the money for. They must make sure the bulk of the money they get goes into agriculture and properly utilized and use the savings of that state to ensure that maximum delivery is produced with very little resources”.
General Sam Momah.....Naira will rise if Nigerians produce their own products
How Naira can rise again…
On the shrinking of the Naira against the Dollar, the former Adjutant General of the Nigerian Army and Ph-D holder in Strategic Studies gave his mind “What I have to say is that Government should allow the Naira to find its own level with exchange rate. And unless we do that, you will find out that there will be so many gaps between the official rate and the black parallel rate; that is the black market rate. Right now, government says it is N304 Naira per dollar but you know in the black market, it is almost N500. So, those who are making fortune are making almost N200 naira per dollar, which is a kill. They get these things at government rates and then of course, sell at black market rate and that is a lot of money and that is what is killing the economy.  We must let Naira find its own level; I know it is not palatable. But that is the only way Naira can survive. That is why we have to be productive to defend the Naira. If we are not productive and we depend on oil, of course, Naira will keep going down. This again brings us back to the Soludo era, during the Soludo era, he was able to breach the gap between the official rate and parallel rate and that was very ingenious of him. I believe some measures will be taken to achieve that”

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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