Senate summons CBN, FIRS again over $21.3bn foreign tax

Senate summons CBN, FIRS again over $21.3bn foreign taxThe Senate Public Accounts Committee has issued fresh summons to the management of both the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The Chairman of SPAC, Senator Matthew Urhoghide,  disclosed this in an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Saturday.

Urhoghide said the committee queried the CBN last week when it discovered that it did not remit  $3.3 billion from the $21.3bn collected by the FIRS as foreign tax in 2015, into the Federation Account.

He said the Senate panel acted on an audit query raised against the CBN by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.

Quoting the audit query, Urhoghide said while the FIRS recorded $21.3bn as the total foreign tax collected by it in 2015 and domiciled in the apex bank, the CBN, on the other hand, recorded $18bn.

He said the CBN, following the committee’s directive, had submitted some documents to defend its claims.

The senator said a formal invitation had been sent to both the CBN and the FIRS to appear before it whenever the Senate reconvened to defend their separate claims.

He said, “Based on the report before us from the Auditor- General for the Federation, there is a huge difference between the account of the FIRS and that of the CBN.

“The FIRS gave an amount which is higher than what the CBN presented. The CBN said the amount it gave was based on an exchange rate which was different from that of the FIRS.

“The foreign tax came in dollars and at that time, the FIRS said it calculated the foreign currency with a particular exchange rate and we discovered that the difference in the exchange rate adopted in calculating the foreign tax by the two agencies was huge.

“It is almost half of the money we are talking about; we then asked them to bring the necessary documents that must tell us the exact amount collected in foreign currency,  the exact period the money came in and the approved exchange rate at that time.

“Already, the CBN has submitted some documents but we have yet to scrutinise them. We believe it should be part of the documents we are expecting. We want to know the exchange rate at that time. The point is that, what the CBN is declaring is different from what the FIRS was expecting them to declare.

“While the FIRS is insisting on its own naira equivalent of the money as of the time it was paid, the CBN is declaring a different figure.

“So, we want to know whether the exchange rate then was N197 to $1 or not. We summoned them again and asked them to come and defend the documents they presented to us.”

The Senate had last week Wednesday queried the CBN  over an alleged unremitted $3.3bn from the $21.3bn collected by the FIRS as foreign tax in 2015.

Urhoghide had asked the CBN to explain the shortfalls and the Deputy Governor (Corporate Affairs) of the bank, Mr Edward  Adamu, did so but the panel appeared unconvinced by his explanations.

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