NYCN Alleges Plot To Drag FIRS Into ‘The Mud’ Over Report On 2022 Budget Proposal

The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has described as “mischievously slanted”, a recent report by a national daily about the 2022 proposed expenditure of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The report titled “FIRS to spend N2.8bn on uniforms, N550m on meals” had examined the budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly by the FIRS in comparison with those of some government agencies.

The report said that despite efforts by the Federal Government to cut down the cost of governance, the FIRS submitted a budget proposal that surpasses those of the National Assembly and Judiciary.

But the NYCN, at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, accused the publication of attempting to whip up needless controversy about the revenue agency’s proposed budget.

Solomon Adodo, NYCN’s President, said it would be a “national disservice” for the NYCN to ignore the report or “sit back and watch the national tax administration and the well-intentioned programmes of the FIRS be dragged into the mud, especially if viewed against the backdrop of the fact that the agency mobilises revenue for our Commonwealth, thereby contributing to our national economic development as well as the well-being of ordinary Nigerians generally.”

The youth group accused the publication of having “sinister intentions”, adding that “Any discerning mind would see that the said budget estimate is a proposed expenditure that would eventually pass through the eagle eyes of the National Assembly for rigorous scrutiny.”

The NYCN further said, “…we wonder why such a document (budget proposal) should suddenly become public controversy. What is even more worrisome is the fact that no attempt was made by the paper to seek an explanation or clarification of the various expenditure sub-headings contained in the document.”

The group alleged that the report may have been sponsored by people who do like “the progress being achieved by the leadership of FIRS,” warning that “this whole political buccaneering will put to jeopardy the revenue generation, fund mobilization and tax administration that are germane to the national development.”

It said, “…the business of revenue generation is too serious an economic business that it should not be subjected to the kind of infantile politicking intended by that publication. FIRS is a proactive revenue-generating agency that takes its mandate very seriously. We must not forget in a hurry that recently FIRS came down heavily on some notable big tax offenders, and made them pay their outstanding tax liabilities. And so, every attempt made by such tax defaulters to intimidate FIRS to make it shirk its patriotic duty was firmly and roundly rebuffed. We know that some people somewhere would wish to continue with their tax crimes. But we say a big NO to that. It is about time that, as Nigerians, we focused on development instead of petty politics.

The NYCN added that, “…since the assumption to office of the Chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami, on 18 December 2019, he has initiated and implemented several strategic reforms aimed at making tax administration more effective, particularly through expanding the National Tax Net so that more revenue could be generated without raising the percentage of tax paid. In his model, more and more businesses that hitherto evaded tax or paid less are identified and brought into the proper and actual tax net and assessment.

“The determination of the Nami-led FIRS to go after some big and hitherto untouchable tax offenders has continued to gain traction. For example, many businesses that either did not pay taxes or did not pay the correct amount have been made to pay under the very deliberate programme of the Management. The drive continues as that is what is obtainable everywhere in the world. It is a serious patriotic and economic business.

“Consequently, the NYCN alongside our Civil Society Advocacy partners, as major stakeholders in national development, has thrown its full weight behind the FIRS. We salute them. And we support them fully. We call on all Nigerians and businesses to support effective tax administration in Nigeria, as is being provided by the FIRS under the dexterous leadership of Muhammad Nami. This charge should be the business of every Patriot because no one else will build our country for us. And we cannot build any country without a good tax administration system.

“As part of our continued show of support to the Management of FIRS, the NYCN in conjunction with strategic Civil Society Organizations will be carrying out several advocacy programmes to educate and sensitize Nigerians, especially the youth on their roles in improving revenue generation by supporting and deepening the expansion of the National Tax Net. These programmes will include seminars, media engagements, rallies and public enlightenment campaigns.

“We urge all the youth and indeed well-meaning citizens to be alive to their patriotic responsibilities of paying their tax as and when due. The FIRS need our continued support and progressive engagements. We must extend that to the revenue agency at all times.”

The NYCN urged the FIRS to remain focused and true to its reforms and ignore distractions.

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