A bill seeking to amend the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Act, 2022 scaled second reading at the Senate on Tuesday.
This followed the presentation of the lead debate on the general principles of the bill by the sponsor, Sen. Yahaya Abdullahi (PDP-Kebbi North) during plenary.
Senator Abdullahi said the bill sought to amend the FIRS (Establishment) Act, No. 13, 2007, with the key objective of ensuring a regulated and more organized process of granting corporate tax holidays and import duty waivers to investors and businesses.
And according to him, the bill will address the shortfalls in government revenues, the consequent rise in deficit spending, and the high debt profile of Nigeria.
“The other reason was the mounting financial demands to fund equally increasing government public expenditures, particularly our national budgets on public infrastructure, security, and welfare commitments,” he added.
“It is important for parliament to be aware of the dire predicament of our economic circumstances today and the danger we face if we fail to reign in the twin threats of deficit spending and high indebtedness.
“On the surface, it is easy to say that Nigeria is in safe territory because our public debt of 23.6 percent of the GDP is still within our 40 percent threshold and the 55 percent estimated by the IMF for economies of our size.
“The devil in our case is that debts are serviced with revenues government derives from its GDP, which in our case is abysmally low (about 6-7 percent of the GDP),” he said.
He pointed to reports of about N6 trillion in expected revenue being unavailable because of tax and import duty waivers.
“This clearly indicates the specter of the difficult times ahead.”
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan agreed that some of the waivers were unnecessary.
He, thereafter, referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Finance for further legislative actions and to report back in four weeks.