The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has partnered with Afropolitan Media Limited to start a national sensitisation and capacity-building training programme for media professionals.
The training programme became imperative following several reforms initiated by the FIRS under the leadership of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Muhammad Nami, and new challenges posed by rapidly unfolding developments to tax bodies in the country and globally, especially by e-commerce, which has obliterated transnational borders and broken down transcontinental barriers.
The training therefore, was conceived in order to deepen knowledge of the Nigerian tax administration among finance correspondents so that they can report the sector better to the understanding and benefit of taxpayers in the country.
The first of the capacity-building series was held on Wednesday 29, March, 2023 and had as participants finance correspondents from both legacy and new media organisations in attendance at the venue – the North Gate Hotel, Mararaba, Nasarawa State.
In her Welcome Address at the one-day event, Chief Executive Officer, Afropolitan Media Limited, Hajiya A’isha Umar Halilu, stated that “the workshop aims to bring participants up to date on current challenges faced by tax authorities like the FIRS and the importance of the media reporting these challenges ethically and responsibly in close collaboration with the FIRS & other tax bodies at the sub-national levels and for the education of the taxpaying public.”
Hajiya Halilu lauded Mr. Nami and the FIRS for supporting the capacity-building training programme for media professionals in the country.
She urged the finance correspondents to participate actively in the workshop and wished all “a fruitful deliberation.”
The theme for the capacity-building programme is “The Role of the FIRS in Driving the Nation’s Tax Administration for Nation-Building”.
Participants were taken through three modules by Malam Shehu Olaitan Mohammed (FCA), Managing Partner at Shehu Mohammed & Co. – a distinguished firm of chartered accountants – and Mr. Ma’roof Ibraheem Ajibola (FCA), a Partner in the same firm.
Malam Mohammed delivered the module on a “General Overview of the Nigerian Tax Ecosystem”, breaking it down to the basics in concise, clear bits covering federal, state and local government tax administrations, the types of taxes each level is backed by law to collect and the operational setup of the FIRS, the taxes the Service collects, their percentages and other technical details in taxation.
Mohammed stated that the Nami reforms at the FIRS has widened the Nigerian tax net, leasing to new record collections despite such global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.
A lively interactive question-and-answer session followed the first module presentation during which Mohammed fielded questions from participants on his presentation and matters arising from it as these related to taxation in Nigeria.
A tea break was called after the highly illuminative morning session.
At resumption for the afternoon session, Mr. Ajibola took the finance correspondents through another fresh set of two modules entitled, “FIRS: Roles, Responsibilities and Administration” and “Reforms and Innovations in the FIRS: Tax Promax, SENTINAL and Financial Acts” since the appointment of Mr. Nami as Executive Chairman, FIRS in December 2019 till date.
Ajibola’s presentation clearly demonstrated that the FIRS under Mr. Nami had modernised the Nigerian Tax Administration and integrated it into the global taxation system through cutting-edge, homegrown Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and partnership with tax authorities across the world.
For instance, Ajibola stated that the Tax Promax automated tax software currently in use by the FIRS was conceived and built by FIRS staff under the direction of Mr. Nami and the current FIRS Board.
Prior to this, the FIRS had relied on a Canadian-built software – Amanda – to collect tax in the country, which was serviced at huge foreign exchange burden on Nigeria.
Ajibola disclosed that the FIRS uses the global SENTINAL software system to track and tax e-commerce transactions in Nigeria, stressing that this has enabled the Service to block holes hitherto in the tax net, making it impossible for anyone to evade paying tax on online purchases, betting, etc.
He also spoke on the 2019 origin of the Finance Act, which is renewed yearly by an act of the National Assembly.
Ajibola concluded that the groundbreaking reforms initiated by the Nami Administration at the FIRS had benefitted the taxpayers in the form of reliefs provided by the Finance Act, seamless, easy-to-use filing and self-assessment technologies.
Nigeria, according to him, has also benefitted from these reforms in terms of record tax collection revenue in trillions of naira, which makes more money available for the three tiers of government to spend on public infrastructure.
The FIRS/Afropolitan capacity-building programme for professional media practitioners is scheduled to berth next in Kaduna and Kano.