President Muhammadu Buhari has queried the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, over alleged discrepancies in tax collections from 2015 to 2018.
Concise News understands on Sunday that the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, in a letter dated August 8, 2019, and addressed to the FIRS chairman, asked Fowler to explain reasons for ‘significant’ variances in budgeted collections and actual collections of tax in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
It was learned since 2015, the FIRS under Fowler has not been able to meet collection targets, a different trend from the preceding years.
In 2015, FIRS set N4.7 trillion target but was only able to make N3.7 trillion in the actual collection. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the target collections were N4.2 trillion, N4.8 trillion and N6.7 trillion but the actual collections were N3.3 trillion, N4.0 trillion and N5.3 trillion, respectively.
Worried by the variances, the presidency asked Fowler for an explanation.
“Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018,” Kyari wrote.
Fowler was appointed FIRS boss in 2015, the year Buhari was elected president. He succeeded Samuel Odugbesan appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Fowler had held a similar role in Lagos State, Nigeria’s richest state.
Analysis of Nigeria’s tax statistics showed that before Buhari and Fowler came in 2015, the only year FIRS could not meet its collection target was 2006 since the year 2000.
But in the query served Fowler, the presidency only mentioned 2012 to 2014.
“Further we have observed that actual collections for the period between 2015 and 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014.
“Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reasons for the poor collections,” said Kyari.
Concise News also understands that Fowler was asked to respond by Monday, August 19.