The Federal Inland Revenue Service recently issued a circular calling on corporate organisations to “commence payment of their annual returns earlier than their due dates, apart from their normal monthly obligations.” According to that circular, dated 22 April, 2020 and titled Update on Palliative Measures to Cushion Effect of COVID-19 on Taxpayers, the federal tax collector sad that this appeal “has become necessary in order to ease some of the cashflow gaps being experienced by governments at this critical time.”
The circular went on to rationalize this call thus: “As is currently obvious, the economic downturn that resulted from the global shutdown occasioned largely by the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to put pressure on revenue generating agencies including the FIRS, thereby straining governments to bridge budget funding gaps.”
Muhammad Nami, the executive chairman of the agency, who personally signed the circular, said the directive is specifically addressed to the operators in select sectors, that, according to him, are experiencing a boom as a result of the effects of the pandemic.
According to him, “we wish to acknowledge that some sectors such as telcos, financial institutions, e-commerce, supermarkets, manufacturers/processors of certain products etc are experiencing a boom due to the increased transactions as a result of the lockdown or even despite the pandemic.”
Knowing the way our government and its agencies work, we know that it is just a matter of time before this appeal, according to the circular, becomes a directive, order or an edict that will seek to criminalize and punish any corporate body that fails to comply with it. But before we even get there, let us critically examine this appeal by the FIRS.
To begin with, these corporate bodies, as is even acknowledged by the circular, already have their monthly filings that they do to the FIRS, and this is not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic realities. What the agency is saying is that these monthly returns are no longer enough for it and so needs some more. One of the issues with this circular is how can the FIRS enforce this so-called appeal? The law has already stipulated the time that these corporate bodies must do their filings and any effort put at trying to coax these corporates, even if the agency enacts an edict to that end, would surely be resisted by these companies, and I see a long tortuous litigation as a result.
Again, the circular displayed some kind of ignorance on the interconnectivity of sectors in an economy. When the economy is booming all sectors experience a boom and when it is at a standstill or semi-standstill, hardly does any sector, formal or informal, get exonerated. All sectors and players in this economy feel the gloom occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown so, one may ask, where is the increased earnings that the FIRS is talking about, coming from?
Let us take the financial sector for instance. The banks may be doing more transactions – ATMs, transfers, POS payments etc – now but to what amount? People, at lockdown, are making more online payments but they are mostly for food, groceries and other essentials, which are mostly minute purchases. Is FIRS telling us that there are people still buying and paying for lands and cars or building houses, or taking chieftaincy titles today?
If you take a look outside your window, you may have noticed an increase in traffic of delivery men on our roads during this lockdown and this may make you think that the e-commerce companies are making a killing this period. After reading this piece, take another look at the delivery men and you would see that they are mostly delivering food, groceries and other essentials. The fact is that e-commerce is much more than groceries and this category of trade does not make up to five percent of the e-commerce players revenue.
Even the groceries and other essentials are not even exclusive on the e-commerce portals as markets, supermarkets and pharmacies are open in all neighbourhoods and take a substantial part of the food and groceries business. Suppliers, most of whom do not have exemption letters, find it impossible to move even groceries and food items to the e-commerce warehouses as security agents do not let them move around. The e-commerce operators and their logistics partners are not even allowed to move around things like electronics, gadgets and other non-essential goods that used to make up the bulk of their earnings.
How can these companies even compute their taxes in advance since the company tax is determined by the aggregate income less all costs for the year? Are they supposed to guestimate these figures to arrive at an amount payable to FIRS? What if their guestimate short-changes them? We all know that it is not the speed that the FIRS comes for the balance in case of an underpayment that it uses in refunding an excess.
Let us even examine the reason for this ‘appeal’ as canvassed by the FIRS “to ease some of the cash flow gaps being experienced by governments.” The circular admits that the governments are experiencing the cash crunch effects of the lockdown. The question here is why do the governments look towards the companies in dealing with cash flow gaps instead of looking inwards on how to cut governance costs?
How can the government allow our elected public officers to be living in obscene wealth, moving about in convoys of expensive cars, appointing hundreds of aides, throwing expensive birthday parties in Dubai and London, and earning millions in allowances at a time that the global and national economies are experiencing a downturn? At a time, Nigerian government is appealing for support in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the same government, for example, is importing the 2020 model of Toyota Camry for each of the 360 members of the House of Representatives. Instead of cutting the cost of governance, the government is sending the FIRS to snuff out the little air that is sustaining the companies that are already gasping for breath.
It is a pity that while governments, the world over, are looking for ways of cushioning the effects of COVID-19 pandemic for corporates, the Nigerian government, through its agencies, are adding to the burden of these companies. The government should better ask the Federal Inland Revenue Service to rescind its appeal for advance payment of the company tax, and look for ways to cut the cost of governance in its quest to bridge the prevailing budget funding gaps.
Public Relations Consultant.
Guest Flees As Hotel Uncovers Murdered Female Companion
The Kwara State Police Command has begun searching for a man who allegedly killed a lady in a hotel in Ilorin, the state capital, about three weeks ago.
The suspect, whom the police identified as Adegboye James of Okelowo Street, Ede, Osun State, was alleged to have murdered the lady whom he brought to the hotel on Adewole Housing Estate, Ilorin, on May 27, 2021.
The police, in a statement signed by the command’s Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi, said the address given by the suspect was fake and could not be traced.
He called on members of the public whose daughter or female relation was missing since May 28, 2021, to check the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department for possible identification of the corpse.
The statement read, “On May 28, 2021, around 7.30pm, we responded to a call from one Olalekan Anafi, the supervisor of Premium Diamond Hotel, in the Adewole area of Ilorin that on May 27, 2021, around 2pm, one Adegboye James, lodged at their hotel.
“The said Adegboye James went out and came back with a lady. The said Adegboye James later checked out of the hotel without the knowledge of any of the hotel staff.
“In the morning of the following day when nothing was heard from the room occupied by the said lodger, a spare key was used to open the room and the hotel was confronted by the dead body of the lady.
“Investigation into the incident is already at an advanced stage as ordered by the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, CP Mohammed Bagega, to arrest the lodger whose name and address as reflected in the hotel’s logbook is fake.”
In another development, the Kwara State command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said its operatives are searching for a motorist who allegedly cut off the hand of a seven-year-old Alimanjiri student, Usman Abubakar, of Malam Aliu Adamu School, Patigi, in the Patigi Local Government Area of the state.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer of the NSCDC, Babawale Afolabi, said the child was allegedly kidnapped together with his schoolmate by the unknown motorist, who promised to take them to where they would eat on Monday night.
Babawale said the suspect, who is now at large with the boy’s hand, later escaped into the bush.
He said the victim lost much blood and was treated at the Patigi General Hospital.
The PRO said the NSCDC had commenced investigation into the incident.
Buratai, Olanisakin Get Ambassadorial Postings, Buhari Silent On Other Ex- service Chiefs
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai (rtd), has been deployed to Benin Republic. While General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (rtd), former Chief of Defence Staff, has been appointed the head of mission to Cameroon.
At a brief ceremony in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, presented letters of credence to the ex-service chiefs.
This was disclosed by Mr Kimiebi Ebienfa, information officer of the ministry.
“The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama today 22 June 2021, presented Letters of Credence to the Ambassador-Designate of Nigeria to the Republic of Cameroon, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (Retired) and the Ambassador-Designate of Nigeria to the Republic of Benin, Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai (Retired).”
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs during the brief ceremony congratulated the immediate past service chiefs on their appointment by Mr. President and called on them to deploy their wealth of experience to promote Nigeria’s interest during their tour of duty in countries of accreditation,” he said in a statement.
However, the statement was silent on the postings of the other former Service chiefs, Vice Admiral Ibok- Ette Ibas (retired) former Chief of Naval Staff; Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar (retired), ex-Chief of Air Staff and and Air Vice Marshal Muhammad S. Usman (Rtd), former Chief of Defense Intelligence.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on February 4, 2021, appointed the ex-service chiefs as non-career ambassadors.
The president appointed the ex-service chiefs in 2015 and refused to bow to the pressure to relieve them of their duties until they “voluntarily resigned”.
Their ambassadorial appointment sparked public outrage, with calls on the Senate to reject their nominations.
Despite the outrage, the Senate, on February 23, 2021, confirmed their nominations.
UNIJOS Hires Hunters To Secure Campus Against Bandits
The University of Jos (UNIJOS) has hired local hunters to beef up security within and around the campus, its vice-chancellor Prof. Sabastine Maimako has stated.
Maimako announced this on Tuesday during the valedictory session to mark the end of his five-year tenure.
He said: “It is no longer news that the security situation in the country is quite tenuous. This is why under my administration we made frantic efforts to ensure that all lives and property within the University are adequately protected.
“When we got a security report that we were the soft targets, we closed our hostels for almost two weeks and suspended lecturers eventually.
“Now before we could reopen, we were given a condition that we must employ the services of local hunters to help us secure our hostels, particularly at night.
“Today, this is where we are but thanks to God the Director of Peace and Conflict Studies looking at the happening, he has offered to train these hunters on the rule of engagement in their working in the University.”
He noted the institution has collaborated with various security experts for a significant drop in crimes on campus while some staff were recruited to address the deficits in security personnel.
He said his administration initiated and completed 85 projects which have been commissioned.
The VC explained out of the 75 programmes, which the institution was to run, 43 have full accreditation status while 30 programmes have interim accreditation status.
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