Mixed reactions trail proposed merger of Customs with FIRS

More reactions have continued to trail the recommendation by the National Tax Policy Review Committee to merge the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Some Nigerians who spoke on SHIPS & PORTS DAILY radio programme on Radio One 103.5FM Lagos on Thursday, said the proposed merger may “look like a good concept”, but expressed worry that there would be conflict of interest in both agencies’ operations if implemented.

One of the callers into the programme, former President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Eugene Nweke, said he was of the opinion that Customs should maintain an independent position as far as collection of revenue on international traded goods and export is concern.

He said rather than propose the merger of Customs with FIRS, both agencies should collaborate to achieve maximum revenue collection for the federal government, adding that the merger may create internal wrangling between the two agencies.

According to him, there shouldn’t be any impediment between Customs and FIRS to generate maximum revenue into government coffers given the introduction of the Tax Identification Number (TIN) by both agencies.

“The idea seems good to them but it goes beyond that. We need to look at other issues that arrangement will generate.

“The merger suggestion is just for the convenience of generating revenue to government. Customs is trained for the collection of revenue, which is not the same with FIRS.

“Customs is trained to collect approved payable duty on imports which have an international procedures and practices. So if we now merge the two agencies, which name will they bear? They will never be seen as one body because there will be internal wrangling.

“Customs collects excise duties, export, import. It is easier to say if they fuse together, it will work out fine but Customs knows the implication. That is why they came out with Tax Identification of every trader that goes to buy anything in Nigeria for them to have a good working arrangement and it has worked for the past four years. That is when the revenue of the FIRS started swearing high.

“Merger within two government agencies will create serious issues. After all whatever money they are collecting goes to the Single Treasury Account. So I don’t see the hindrance why FIRS cannot generate effective revenue when they have been structured and came up with the TIN for every importer and exporter in the country,” he stated.

Nweke said what the committee should have done was to consider the place of Customs whether they should be under the Ministry of Finance or be moved to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Another contributor, Adu Aasha, who called from Ojo area of Lagos said he is in support of the merger.

He said, “It is a very bright idea. Customs has positive aggression to collect revenue and the FIRS has the professional know-how to collect revenue so if we marry both, it will be good for the country.”

He however called on the government to look into the issue of having tax consultants, which he described as an administrative fraud.

“The problem with Nigeria taxation is because of the people called tax consultants. They should be investigated,” he said.

Another caller, Femi Falowe said supported the proposed merger, arguing that it will streamline the functions of both agencies.

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