FINANCE BILL: AHMED, FIRS, OTHERS DISAGREE WITH RMAFC OVER REVENUE MONITORING
- Commission declares amendments of the finance, management control act unconstitutional
There was sharp disagreement over constitutional mandates and extant laws between the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Ellias Mbam; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr. Muhammad Nami, over the revenue monitoring provision in the 2021 Finance Bill
The opposing views of the heads of the various agencies on powers for collection and monitoring revenues accruing into the Federation Account and the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) was displayed yesterday in their separate submissions at a public hearing on the 2021 Finance Bill at the Senate.
While the Chairman of RMAFC faulted section 68(2) of the proposed bill seeking exclusive power of revenue collection, monitoring and enforcement to FIRS, the Minister of Finance, the Accountant – General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris and FIRS Chairman, said RMAFC functions held different view on the proposed legislation.
Section 68(2) states that the FIRS is the primary agency in charge of administration, assessment, collection, accounting and enforcement of taxes.
The RMAFC Chairman in faulting the provision said there was no objection to the FIRS being the primary agency responsible for assessment, collection and accounting, but objected to the exclusive power of enforcement.
According to him: “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.
In a separate submission, the FIRS Boss said the RMAFC mandate to monitor revenue was not exclusive, saying other relevant agencies or bodies such as the Budget Office, Office of Accountant General of the Federation, Ministry of Finance, Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), among others, have concurrent mandate to monitor revenue.
He argued: “What is clear and exclusive is that FIRS possesses the mandate to access, collect and account for taxes accruing into the federation account.
“Monitoring revenues is not the same as collecting and enforcing them in form of taxes”.
This position was also supported by the Minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation.
Ahmed in her submission said the RMAFC fundamental function was to monitor revenue accruing into the Federation Account and not even the CRF.
According to her, the FIRS in the proposed bill, was empowered to sanction non- compliant banks that fail to deliver quarterly returns, investigate tax evasions and other related crimes and several others.
Declaring open the public hearing, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola disclosed that the 2021 Finance Bill has a total of 12 existing Acts for amendments.
They include: Capital Gains Tax Act, Companies Income Tax Act, Customs, Exercise Tariff, etc. (Consolation) Act, Federal Revenue Service Establishment Act, Personal Income Tax and Stamp Duties Act.
Others, according to him, 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 Fiscal Responsibility Act.