By Ifeanyi Ochonogor
National Assembly Joint Committee has raised alarm over the 2019 projected estimate of non oil revenue tax collection of N146.54 billion by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The concern was raised at FIRS’s budget defence in Abuja on Monday by the Co-chairman Senator John Enoh and other members of the committee.
They sought to know why the approved estimate for 2018 was N153.85 billion, which was 4.75% lesser than the 2019 projected cost of N146.54 billion.
The committee also queried why the personnel cost proposed by FIRS was for 14.6% increase in number of staff from 7, 854 in 2018 to 9000 staff in 2019.
The joint committee also demanded explanation from the FIRS boss on the “proposed N160 million meant to sew drivers’ uniforms, N825 million for refreshment and security vote of N250 million among others.
Mr Tunde Fowler, the Executive Chairman of FIRS explained that the proposed increase in staff strength was due to recruitment of staff scheduled in 2019.
“N160 million was earmarked to sew uniforms for the 850 drivers of the service as part of effort to make them fit properly into the structure.
“The amount earmarked for security vote was meant to attend to some security issues, particularly those not receipted for.
“The achievement of 2019 budget will be driven by increase oil and non-oil revenue tax collection.
“The service in realisation of this responsibility and challenges of doing manual collection will continue to implement automated tax collection for the critical sectors of the economy notably telecommunications, airlines and financial institutions.
“The deployment of these platforms is at no cost to the service and the consultants will only be rewarded on increased revenue generation.
“There will be increased enforcement activities nationwide to bring more tax payers into the tax net and increase compliance level,’’ the FIRS boss explained.