FG revenue projection uncertain as Customs raises concern over Finance Act

The Federal Government’s revenue projection faces some uncertainty as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has expressed fears over the Finance Act saying that some sections of the act runs contrary to its mandate of revenue collection.

The concerns were raised by the Comptroller General of NCS, Rtd Col. Hameed Ali on Monday, at an interactive session with the leadership of the Senate and Senate Committee on Finance held at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

The session was on the need to improve internally generated revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria and revenue projections of the agencies as contained in the Appropriation Act 2022.

What the Comptroller General of NCS is saying

Ali in his submission noted that if they are talking of collection based on the provisions of the finance act, the service must be sure we still have the mandate to collect.

The NCS boss said, “The law states in Section 61(A) as amended that this Act and the law listed in the first Schedule to this Act shall take precedence over any other laws with regards to the administration, assessment, collection, accounting, enforcement of taxes and levies due to the Federal Government.

“It further states that except in cases such that tax or levy is a subject of litigation in a court of competence jurisdiction.

“And if the provisions of any Act or any other law, including the enactment in the Fourth Schedule are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, the provisions of this Act shall prevail on the provisions of that other law to the extent of inconsistency should be void.

“All other laws which are laws that mandate us to collect, if they are to be consistent with this, then they are voided. Which then means that the laws that mandate us as revenue generating agencies are voided completely.”

Going further, Ali explained that with the provisions of the Act, it meant that the Service did not have the responsibility to collect revenue.

He said, “We have consulted with legal luminaries and the conclusion is that this Act is confusing.

“If stakeholders decide to take leverage of this, they can decide to say we are not supposed to collect duties and levies and therefore they only pay to FIRS and that will be a complete, total chaos to this country.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while reacting to the statement by the Customs boss, said that the revelation was scary as the complaint was not even about targets, but that they don’t even have any legal mandate to collect revenue.

Lawan said, “When we are saying we need more and you are saying you don’t even have the power to collect money.

“We take this issue very seriously. The senate committee on finance, ministry of finance and the service will look at the Act. Where it is established beyond any reasonable doubt that there is need for us to amend, we will do so expeditiously.’’

Speaking at the occasion, the Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola pointed out that the section of the bill is not targeted at Customs, but rather the singular action was as a result of the issues between the Revenue, Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMFC) and FIRS.

What you should know

The National Assembly had earlier said that revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government were capable of generating N3 trillion annually if the resources are prudently spent.
Recall that the federal government said it intends to generate N10.7 trillion as revenue in the 2022 fiscal year, 32.1% higher than the N8.1 trillion projected in 2021.
Also, the 2022 budget is expected to have a deficit of N6.3 trillion and will be financed from domestic, foreign, multi-lateral loans and proceed from privatisation.

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