The Presidency has spoken on the query issued to the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
The Presidency’s position was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Shehu said contrary to the insinuation by some media outlets, Fowler was not being investigated.
Rather, he said the query was to find out the reason for the gap between the revenue projected to be realised by the FIRS and what actually came into the coffers of the government.
He said this was because projects are based on revenue projections and therefore any shortfall must be adequately explained.
Shehu said since the inception of the Buhari Administration, the tax net of the country had been widened from 10 million to 20 million.
He said in the statement: “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 (Monday) presentation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers-Designate, Federal Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries, which dwelt on an ‘Overview of the Policies, Programmes and Project Audit Committee,’ a body he chaired, 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.
“Anyone conversant with Federal Executive Council deliberations would have observed that issues bordering on revenue form the number one concern of what Nigeria faces today, and therefore, often take a prime place in discussions of the body.
“It is noteworthy and highly commendable that under this administration, the number of taxable adults has increased from 10 million to 20 million with concerted efforts still on-going to bring a lot more into the tax net.”