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Taiwo Oyedele defends N5 billion funding for tax reforms committee

The Chairman of the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee, Taiwo Oyedele, has provided clarifications on the transfer of N5 billion by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to fund his committee’s activities.

Oyedele in a statement posted on his X handle on Friday said the N5 billion mentioned by the immediate past Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami, covers a national “Data for Tax” project which the Joint Tax Board (JTB) has been championing for over 2 years.

According to him, the project was presented to the National Economic Council in 2022 and was meant to be funded by the federal government and the 36 states.

He noted that the project, however, stalled due to a lack of funds. “Given the importance of the project to the effective reform of our tax system, it was included in the Committee’s budget,” he said.

Over N4 billion still unspent

While noting that the Committee would be transparent in all its spending, Oydele said over N4 billion of the fund allocated has yet to be spent.

  • “All the expenses of the Committee are properly documented and available for audit. We collect receipts for fuel, stationeries, and virtually every Naira that we spend to the extent possible. Over N4 billion of the said funds transferred by the FIRS to the JTB for the Committee’s work is yet to be spent and very much intact in the JTB account.
  • “We will be responsible, prudent, and accountable with every Naira of public funds we have been entrusted with,” he said.

Committee’s expenses

Highlighting the expenses of the committee, Oyedele said the Committee’s budget, which has the approval of the National Assembly, include setting up of offices for the Committee in Lagos and Abuja, payment of salaries for the full-time staff engaged by the Committee, travels and other logistics for over 70 members representing more than 40 institutions and stakeholder groups mapped to 6 different Subcommittees, more than 30 Secretariat personnel and over 40 students across the country.

  • “In addition, the budget covers planned stakeholder engagements with various sectors and interest groups, as well as international engagements and understudy of some leading tax regimes around the world, and so on. The budget covers a period of one year being the lifespan of the Committee.
  • It should be noted that the Committee was not set up simply to produce reports and recommendations, we are also charged with the implementation of recommended and approved proposals that need to be funded.
  • “The Committee’s mandate includes ensuring prudence and accountability in the management of our national resources. It will therefore be a contradiction for the same Committee to be wasteful or reckless in its own affairs. Members of the Committee work on a volunteering basis and are only paid reasonable allowances to cover their out-of-pocket expenses as we cannot afford to pay the commercial value for their time, skills and experience. As the Chairman of the Committee, despite working full time on the assignment, I do not receive a salary,” he explained.

The back story

In a rejoinder to a story by the Cable alleging that the immediate past Chairman of the FIRS, Nami, approved N11 billion ‘suspicious payments’ after his exit, Nami had denied approving any payment after he left the office.

According to him, part of the payments he approved before he left the office included N5 billion paid to the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee to fund its activities.

  • “The N5 billion paid to Joint Tax Board was paid to fund the activities of Presidential Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy Reforms two months before I left office,” he said.

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