Nigeria’s federal tax collection agency, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has clarified its role to the House of Reps Committee investigating the payments of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government, explaining that the probe and associated questions fall outside its remit given that they border on how the government spends revenue, not collection which the agency is responsible for.
FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami, made the clarification in Abuja on Thursday during an investigative hearing of the committee. Represented by the Coordinating Director of Compliance Support Group, Dr. Dick Irri, he said that the statutory functions of the agency, as outlined in its establishment Act, are restricted to the assessment of taxpayers, collection of taxes, accounting for and enforcement of taxes that were due to the government of the federation.
The agency, in other words, neither determines nor maintains a record of how the Federal Government of Nigeria spends the gathered revenue, part of which includes the subsidy payment the committee is investigating.
“The Service’s statutory functions remain that of assessment, collection, accounting, and enforcement of payment of taxes that are due to the Government of the Federation and any of its agencies,” he said.
“Taxes collected by the FIRS are usually shared amongst the three tiers of the government (federal, state and local) in line with the Constitution of the country. FIRS does not maintain records of what the funds are used for by the three tiers of government. The Service also does not have the power to ask for such records.”
Whilst emphasizing that the agency’s role is irrelevant to the committee’s probe, Chairman Nami however reiterates the commitment of the FIRS to transparency and accountability.
“The Service holds the ad hoc committee on petroleum products subsidy regime and other committees of the National Assembly in high esteem and will always give necessary support to ensure the success of their oversight functions.”
“All the tax-related information requested in your letter dated 1st July 2022, has been duly submitted.”
“All the 16 items listed on your letter dated 5th August 2022, are not tax-related and also are not part of the responsibilities of the Service.”