Buhari warns of looming fiscal crisis

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday warned that Nigeria may soon face fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to stop the negative trends in target setting and target realisation in tax revenue.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement to explain the reported investigation of the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler.

Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari, queried Fowler over why government revenue has been low compared to what it was before now.

“Following reports making the rounds in some media outlets, it is necessary to state categorically that the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, is not under any investigation.

“The letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, on which the purported rumour of an investigation is based, merely raises concerns over the negative run of the tax revenue collection in recent times.

“Taking a cue from today’s presentation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers-Designate, Federal Permanent Secretaries and top government functionaries, projected revenue of government falls behind recurrent expenditure even without having factored in capital expenditure.

“Consequently, it would appear that the country might be heading for a fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to halt the negative trends in target setting and target realisation in tax revenue.”

Meanwhile, Fowler, while responding to the query issued to him by Kyari, said that the fall in revenue was caused by the recession the country experienced not too long ago.

He said, “The Nigerian economy also went into recession in the second quarter of 2016 which slowed down general economic activities. 

“Tax revenue collection (CIT and VAT) being a function of economic activities were negatively affected but actual collection of the above two taxes were still higher in 2016 to 2018 than in 2012 to 2014,” Shehu said. 

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