OrderPaperToday – Differing opinions among heads of government agencies on powers for collection and monitoring of revenues accruing to the Federation Account and the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) came to the fore amidst debates on the finance bill, 2021.

This was witnessed at the Senate on Tuesday when Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mr. Ellias Mbam, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr, Muhammad Nami, took divergent positions on the bill.

In their separate submissions to the Senate Committee on Finance on the 2021 Finance Bill, the Chairman of RMAFC faulted section 68(2) of the proposed law seeking exclusive power of revenue collection, monitoring and enforcement to FIRS.

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However, the Minister of Finance, the Accountant – General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, and FIRS Chairman, said RMAFC functions are not threatened by the proposed legislation.

Section 68(2) states that FIRS is the primary agency in charge of administration, assessment, collection, accounting and enforcement of taxes.

The RMAFC chairman, while faulting the provision, said there is no objection to FIRS being the primary agency responsible for assessment, collection and accounting but objected to the exclusive power of enforcement.

“This word (enforcement) , is infringing on the monitoring mandate of RMAFC in the area of enforcement and compliance. RMAFC shall not wait for FIRS as a primary agency to carry out enforcement of lost or unremitted government revenue before performing its monitoring functions or seek approval of the Minister of Finance before carrying out its constitutional mandate of enforcement.

“The exclusivity clause of enforcement to FIRS should not be granted and as such, be expunged,” Mbam submitted.

But in a counter submission, the FIRS Boss said RMAFC’s mandate to monitor revenue is not exclusive as other relevant agencies or bodies like the Budget Office of the Federation, Office of Accountant General of the Federation, Ministry of Finance, Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), etc, have concurrent mandate to monitor government revenues.

In his words: “What is clear and exclusive is that FIRS possess the mandate to access, collect and account for taxes accruing to the federation account. Monitoring revenues is not the same as collecting and enforcing them in form of taxes.”

The Minister, while supporting the position of FIRS boss, said RMAFC fundamental function is to monitor revenue accruing into the Federation Account and not even the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).

“FIRS in the Proposed bill, is empowered to sanction non – compliant banks that fail to deliver quarterly returns, investigate tax evasions and other related crimes and several others”, she stated.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Olamilekan (APC Lagos West), said the Finance Bill, 2021, has a total of  12 existing Acts for amendments.

They are Capital Gains Tax Act, Companies Income Tax Act, Customs Excise Tarrif, etc (Consolidation) Act, Federal Revenue Service Establishment Act, Personal Income Tax and the Stamp Duties Act.

Others are Value Added Tax Act, Insurance Act, Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure Act, Finance (Control and Management) Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

“This Finance Bill is the third one in the series that seeks to complement the budget cycle of January-December that was re-established with the 2020 Appropriation Act by the 9” National Assembly.

“The bill generally sought to review and possibly amend sections of existing legislations on revenue for the nation.

“The intent of these amendments are not only for generating increased revenue for the government but also providing clarity, removing ambiguities, providing succor for deserving persons and sectors as well as bringing our laws up to speed with international best practices”, Adeola stated.

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