Whistleblowing policy: FG recovers N14bn from tax evaders

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…As Investment inflow into Nigeria rises to $6.3bn – NBS***

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has revealed that the federal government has so far recovered about N13.9billion from tax evaders through the assistance of volunteers who provided tips on evading tax companies in the country.

Adeosun made this known yesterday in Abuja during a press briefing after meeting with 10 World Bank directors, who are in the country to monitor the progress of the Bank’s supported projects in Nigeria.

She stated that the policy, which commenced in 2016, is now targeting not only those that embezzle money from the government coffers, but also non- regular taxpayers, as well as those who underpay their taxes.

According to her, this month (May) alone, government paid over N439 million to 18 people that provided information on companies deliberately not meeting up with their tax obligations.

Giving more insight into the progress made in the whistleblowing policy, Adeosun said government has received 8,373 communications, 1231 tips and 534 investigations since it started.

She, however, disclosed that while 10 prosecutions were pursued, only four convictions have been recorded, explaining that government is getting more tips on the policy, as more companies are now paying their taxes through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), adding: “We are getting far more tips on tax evasion, which, of course, is a crime against all of us.”

She said the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other tax authorities were doing a lot on enforcement of payment and the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) has helped in increasing the number of taxpayers captured in the tax base of the country.

The minister also disclosed that government has concluded plans to deepen the whistleblowing policy in institutions, such as ministries, MDAs and parastatals.

She said that the whistleblowing unit travelled to the United Kingdom (UK) to understudy how the policy works there, visiting institutions as the Commonwealth Office, Customs and others, even as their findings are to be applied within to deepen the policy in Nigeria.

Adeosun said as a means of ensuring accountability in the parastatals, government would be checking their payrolls on a regular basis, adding that Nigeria has 190 abandoned properties abroad that were recovered by the team.

In the meantime, the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday released the capital importation report for the first quarter of this year, with the investment inflow into the country estimated at $6.3bn.

The investment inflow of $6.3bn is an increase of 17.1 per cent over the $5.38bn recorded in the fourth quarter of last year.

The report stated that the increase in capital inflow in the first quarter of this year was driven mainly by portfolio investment, which grew to $4.56bn from $3.47bn in the previous quarter.

The report noted that portfolio investment inflow was about 72.42 per cent of the total capital imported during the quarter.

It read in part, “The first quarter in 2018 saw a continuous growth in total capital importation into Nigeria, the fourth consecutive quarterly increase since Q2 2017.

“The total value of capital imported in the quarter stood at $6.30bn, which is a year-on-year increase of 594.03 per cent and a 17.11 per cent growth over the figure reported in the previous quarter.

“This increase in capital inflow in Q1 2018 was driven mainly by portfolio investment, which grew from $3.47bn in the previous quarter to $4.56bn, accounting for 72.42 per cent of the total capital importation during the quarter.”

Further analysis of the report showed that Foreign Direct Investment stood at $246.62m, dropping by 34.83 per cent from the figure reported in the previous quarter, and growing by 16.67 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

The report added, “Foreign direct investment in Nigeria was still weak when compared to portfolio investment and other investment, representing only 3.9 per cent of total capital imported.

“Equity investment, a sub-category under the FDI, contributed $246.61m or 99.9 per cent of the FDI during the quarter, while other capital under FDI contributed less than 0.001 per cent.”

In terms of sectors where the $6.3bn was invested, the NBS report stated that banking remained the leading sector for foreign capital.

It added, “During the first quarter, $1.18bn overseas investment flowed to the banking sector, which accounted for 18.7 per cent of the total capital importation. Financing exceeded production, servicing and telecoms sectors to become the second leading sector to receive capital investment, attracting $485.41m during the quarter.

Guardian NG with additional report from Punch