Presidency queries Fowler over ‘poor’ performance

While still battling with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler has again been queried by Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari over the Service’s consistent inability to meet revenue target since Fowler was appointed in 2015.

In the query personally signed and stamp-dated August 8, by Abba Kyari, the presidency “observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.”

It would be recalled that EFCC recently detained top officials of the FIRS as part of a corruption investigation.

Buhari appointed Fowler on August 21, 2015, on a term of four years which is, however, renewable for another term.

However, this query gave Fowler up to Monday, August 19, 2019, to submit his reply.

The query, which has trended on social media since early Sunday morning and titled “Re-Budgeted FIRS Collection and Actual Collections, Abba Kyari “observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.”

According to FIRS official records, FIRS has not been able to meet collection targets since Fowler took over the headship of the service in 2015, unlike the preceding years.

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A former executive chairman of Lagos State Inland Revenue Board (LIRS), Fowler was appointed FIRS chairman in 2015 when Buhari removed Mr. Samuel Odugbesan who was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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.

FIRS recorded a total collection of N5.07 trillion in 2012 when the exchange rate of naira to the United States dollar was 190/1 but in a statement in January 2019, it said the N5.320 trillion collection for 2018 was the highest revenue ever generated by FIRS in history as the highest in FIRS was N5.07 trillion generated in 2012 even though exchange rate had deteriorated to 362/1.

FIRS according to records, consistently met its collection target since 2000 until Fowler was appointed in 2015 except only in 2006.

Abba Kyari then invited Fowler to “accordingly… 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.

“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,” stated Mr Kyari. “Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reasons for the poor collections.”

Efforts to reach FIRS Spokesperson, Mr. Wahab Gbadamosi was not successful as he was said to be out of the country.

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