Taiwo Oyedele, the chairman of the presidential committee on fiscal policy and tax reforms has said the N5 billion allocated to the committee is meant for a national “Data for Tax” project and other expenses.
There has been a growing controversy over allegations made by Muhammad Nami, former chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on approving the sum of N5 billion to the Joint Tax Board (JTB) to fund the activities of the presidential committee on tax and fiscal policy reforms which is led by Oyedele.
Responding to the development on Friday, Oyedele said “The Committee’s budget includes provisions for a national “Data for Tax” project which the Joint Tax Board has been championing for over 2 years.”
“The project was presented to the National Economic Council in 2022 and was meant to be funded by the federal government and the 36 states. However, it stalled due to lack of funds. Given the importance of the project to the effective reform of our tax system, it was included in the Committee’s budget,” Oyedele said via his X media platform.
According to Oyedele, other expenses included in the Committee’s budget, which has the approval of the National Assembly, include the setting up of offices for the Committee in Lagos and Abuja, payment of salaries for the full-time staff engaged by the Committee, travels and other logistics for over 70 members representing more than 40 institutions and stakeholder groups mapped to six different Subcommittees, more than 30 Secretariat personnel and over 40 students across the country.
“In addition, the budget covers planned stakeholder engagements with various sectors and interest groups, as well as international engagements and understudy of some leading tax regimes around the world, and so on. The budget covers a period of one year being the lifespan of the Committee,” Oyedele said.
He added, “It should be noted that the Committee was not set up simply to produce reports and recommendations, we are also charged with the implementation of recommended and approved proposals which need to be funded.
“The Committee’s mandate includes ensuring prudence and accountability in the management of our national resources. It will therefore be a contradiction for the same Committee to be wasteful or reckless in its own affairs.
“Members of the Committee work on a volunteering basis and are only paid reasonable allowances to cover their out-of-pocket expenses as we cannot afford to pay the commercial value for their time, skills and experience. As the Chairman of the Committee, despite working full-time on the assignment, I do not receive a salary.
“All the expenses of the Committee are properly documented and available for audit. We collect receipts for fuel, stationeries, and virtually every Naira that we spend to the extent possible. Over N4 billion of the said funds transferred by the FIRS to the JTB for the Committee’s work is yet to be spent and very much intact in the JTB account,” Oyedele explained.