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FG targets wealthy Nigerians in new tax drive

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The Federal Government is planning to overhaul the nation’s tax system to shift more of the burden to wealthy citizens while cutting corporate taxes.

The move — part of President Bola Tinubu’s reforms to overhaul the beleaguered economy – aims to lift the country’s tax take to 18 per cent of Gross Domestic Product within three years from 11 per cent now, according to a Bloomberg report.

A tax amnesty to encourage compliance is also under consideration.

The plan is to make “the rich pay what is fair and those who are too poor can be protected,” said Taiwo Oyedele, who is leading a panel appointed by Tinubu to drive the changes.

“We also envisage a reduction in the corporate income tax rate,” to below the current effective rate of more than 40 per cent to help boost business, he told Bloomberg in a recent interview. The new rate should be benchmarked against Nigeria’s peers, he said.

In Africa’s most populous nation, where a tiny minority enjoy vast wealth while two thirds of its 200 million people live in extreme poverty, the numbers suggest widespread tax evasion.

Nigeria’s tax revenue as a share of GDP is a third of the 34 per cent average for members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Among four million registered firms, less than 250,000 actively pay tax, while fewer than a quarter of the 41 million registered people pay income tax, Oyedele said.

 

The country’s tax system is bedeviled by overlapping local, state and federal jurisdictions, which helps the wealthy to slip through the cracks. The high number of different taxes, which he put at almost 70, also adds to complexity.

“We will find a way to create structures and systems around what taxes can be imposed, how it can be collected, who can collect it and how it should be accounted for,” he said. The goal is to slash the number of taxes down to single digits.

“We just identified the top eight giving us 99% of the taxes, so we keep them and the rest we get rid of,” he said.

Boosting tax collection is vital for a country which, despite its immense oil wealth, has had to borrow heavily to fill the gap between government spending and the revenue shortfall.

Since 2015, the nation’s public debt has increased almost eight-fold to 87.4 trillion naira ($112.6 billion), according to the debt management agency. Servicing those obligations consumed 96% of government revenue in 2022.

A tax amnesty will be introduced to provide a relief on old debts and prepare the mind of the people to meet future obligations.

“If people know that government knows their income, where they are; if they haven’t been paying their taxes, if we declare an amnesty they will show up,” he said.

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Fagbemi warns against obstructing EFCC from performing its lawful duty

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The Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN has warned against obstructing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from carrying out its lawful duty .

Fagbemi’s warning is contained in a statement in Abuja.

“This is a matter of very grave concern, it is now beyond doubt that the EFCC is given power by the law to invite any person of interest to interact with them in the course of their investigations into any matter, regardless of status.

“Therefore, the least that we can all do when invited, is not to put any obstruction in the way of EFCC, but to honourably answer their invitation.

“A situation where public officials who are themselves subject of protection by law enforcement agents will set up a stratagem of obstruction to the civil and commendable efforts of the EFCC to perform its duty is to say the least, insufferably disquieting’’.

He added that running away from the law will not resolve issues at stake but only exacerbate them.

“Nigeria has a vibrant judicial system that is capable of protecting everyone who follows the rule of law in seeking protection.

“I therefore encourage anyone who has been invited by the EFCC or any other agency to immediately toe the path of decency and civility by honouring such invitation instead of embarking on a temporising self-help and escapism.

 

“This can only put our country in bad light before the rest of the world’’.

He said institutions of state should be allowed to function effectively and efficiently.

“I stand for the rule of law and will promptly call EFCC, and indeed any other agency to order when there is an indication of any transgressions of the fundamental rights of any Nigerian by any of the agencies’’.

NAN reports that the EFCC had on Wednesday warned members of the public that it was a criminal offence to obstruct officers of the Commission from carrying out their lawful duties.

Section 38(2)(a(b) of the EFCC Establishment Act makes it an offence to prevent officers of the Commission from carrying out their lawful duties. Culprits risk a jail term of not less than five years.

The warning , the EFCC said, became necessary against the background of the increasing tendency by persons and groups under investigation by the Commission to take the laws into their hands by recruiting thugs to obstruct lawful operations of the EFCC.

On several occasions, the anti graft agency said, operatives of the Commission have had to exercise utmost restraint in the face of such provocation to avoid a breakdown of law and order.

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Unknown Gunmen Abduct Channelstv Reporter In Port-harcourt

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Some unknown gunmen have kidnapped Joshua Rogers, the ChannelsTV reporter in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Politics Nigeria learnt that Rogers was picked up close to his residence at Rumuosi in Port Harcourt and to an unknown destination by the gunmen around 9pm on Thursday, April 11.

The reporter was driving his official ChannelsTV branded car when the hoodlums accosted, pointed a gun at him and took him away in the same vehicle.

 

Rogers was said to be returning from his official assignment in Government House after a trip to Andoni for a government event when the incident happened.

Already, the gunmen were said to have contacted his wife and demanded a N30million ransom for bis release.

His cameraman confirmed the incident and appealed to his abductors to set him free unconditionally.

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