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—Says 60% income lost during recession
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has rejected the long trending feeling of financial experts that the managerial direction of monetary and fiscal policies in Nigeria had been in opposite angles, saying “I do not agree with you when you say the monetary and fiscal policies are not aligned”.
According to her, “What happened was that we had a major dislocation in the economy leading to a loss of about 60 percent of our income. So, you were obviously going to have some non-alignments, which every economy goes through. But we have been able to stabilise the situation and now you’re seeing more of an alignment. You know it will continue.
The Minister spoke to select publisher and editors recently, saying the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) has been doing well and the volunteers are breaking new grounds in tracking habitual tax evaders.
Business Hilights recalls that the scheme took off since July 1, and has March 31, 2018 to rest.
The Minister explained that “We have had very good response from companies; so far, we have had two companies paying $110million”.
“Before now, for example, if you lived in Lagos or you ran a company, Lagos didn’t know that you were running a business in Abuja; it didn’t know that you had a property abroad; it didn’t know that you had moved money to Dubai. At the same time, Lagos State didn’t have jurisdiction to go to those areas to claim you were resident in Lagos.
“There were too many loopholes, to the extent that largely no one was really paying the right taxes, and that’s why our analysis found out that only 241 people in the whole country were paying N200,000 or more. South Africa has 950,000 people paying that amount.
Continuing, Adeosun revealed that “Some of the richest Africans are Nigerians and we live really good lifestyles, but because the tax system was so loose, people were not paying. So, when we started to gather the data and we looked at the level of non-compliance, we were prompted to design the programme”.
In her lead argument for VAIDS, the Minister advanced that “In jurisprudence, they say that if nine out of 10 people comply with the rule, there’s no problem with that rule. But when nine of 10 are not complying, then there’s a serious problem. That’s why we said, let’s have an amnesty so that people can just come in and do the right thing, especially now that they know we have the data”
“Remember the example that I gave about someone running a business in Abuja but he is based in Lagos. Maybe, the only thing he declares is a salary; he just tells you his account to get tax clearance. So he’s declaring N500,000 a month, meanwhile he has a private jet and an expensive house; his children are abroad but government doesn’t know.
“We have pulled all the data together; we’ve profiled people and engaged one of the world’s leading investigative agencies. So, when we want to look abroad, we send them, they come back and say look; this is what this person has. Then, we check the tax declaring register. Once the lifestyle and the tax don’t agree, you can see that this person definitely has underpaid the tax,” the Minister explained.