The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) have stepped up their collaboration by forming a Joint Committee comprised of senior and management staff from both agencies to implement inter-agency strategies aimed at increasing national revenue in the telecommunications sector.
The move is set to build on the interface between the NCC and the FIRS in getting first hand access to information of mobile network users in the country, as well as assessing the economic potentials and contribution of the sector to the national revenue of the country.
The NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, inaugurated the 17-member committee on behalf of the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, and the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami, at the NCC’s Board Room in Abuja on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
The committee, which consists of six NCC officials and eleven FIRS officials, was inaugurated by senior NCC and FIRS officials, led by Dr. Dick Irri, the tax agency’s Coordinating Director for Compliance Support Group, who represented FIRS Executive Chairman Muhammad Nami at the function.
What the partnership entails
The terms of reference (ToR) of the Committee, according to Adewolu, are to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NCC and the FIRS on June 9, 2020, and to carry out inter-agency interaction on the implementation of the NCC’s Revenue Assurance System (RAS), to ensure that it incorporates the needs of FIRS to the extent that RAS can remain the sole interface with telecom services.
The June 19, 2021 Memorandum – The memorandum which was signed by both agencies seeks to ensure the tax agency ascertains accuracy and completeness of value added tax (VAT) elements and other taxes payable in the transactions of telecoms operators.
That is, the FIRS will be able to integrate an application programming interface (API) technology solution with the systems of telecom operators for independent verification of the amount of VAT that should be paid by mobile network operators (MNO) rather than relying entirely on the operators’ books of accounts.
A major concern sighted by the memorandum was to bring to an end multiple tax burdens telecoms operators suffer in the country while providing the tax agency a platform to effectively tackle it.
Roles of the stakeholders involved
In his statement, Adewolu emphasised the need for a wholistic and comprehensive partnership between both agencies, urging them to work together and channel their experience and commitment which informed their selection in the first place, stating the NCC and FIRS managements expected nothing less than an excellent output from the committee
Dr. Dick Irri, who led the FIRS delegation to the inauguration, also exhorted the Committee to take the assignments seriously in his remarks.
“I would like to charge you to treat this assignment as a national matter because we expect the two agencies to operate in harmony, collaborate effectively, and have a warm handshake that will make this synergy between the two agencies a great example of collaboration between Federal Government agencies towards enhancing fiscal governance in Nigeria,” he said.
The decision to set up the Committee was one of the major outcomes of the meeting between the FIRS and the NCC on March 8, 2022, organised at the instance of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, to discuss the request by the FIRS for data and documents from the telecoms industry for enhancing national revenues from the sector.
The inauguration is a noteworthy accomplishment because it strengthens the strategic partnership between the two government agencies in achieving their statutory goals. It also validates the NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 and Strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan (SVP 2020-2025), as well as FIRS’ strategic framework, emphasis on developing mutually-sustainable relationships with important stakeholders.
This partnership also have an effect on achieving the sustainable revenue and growth projections of the Federal Government, which has seen the sector emerge as one of the major contributors to Nigeria’s GDP, ending the Q4 of 2021 with 12.6% of overall GDP.
The FIRS also recently acknowledged that some telecom licenses contribute significantly high percentage of total national tax revenue in a similar meeting which witnessed the recognition of MTN Nigeria as one of the most tax compliant company in Nigeria after turning in over NGN757.6 billion in taxes.
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