The Federal Government, has given a three-month grace period to owners of vessels to clear their ten years outstanding tax bill running into million of dollars.
BusinessDay checks show that the vessel owners were indebted to the country from 2010 to 2019 which made some to avoid the nation’s port.
This is just as multiple businesses received demands from Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) covering the period from 2010 to 2019 and range in amount from $400,000 to $1.1 million per vessel, aggregating it to reach tens of millions of dollars.
Special Advisers to the President on Revenue, Zaccheaus Adedeji wile briefing the State House journalists, after the meeting alongside the GCEO of NNPC, Mele Kyari, NMDPRA CEO, Farouk Ahmed amongst other ship owners, said they have resolved the issue and have given the vessels owners three months to pay the tax and balance their account within six weeks.
Adedeji, stated that “we’ve now resolved within ourselves to resolve this issue as quickly as possible, just to make sure that we don’t affect the flow of the products in and outside the country.
“We also made it clear that Nigeria will not accept any blackmail by defaulters, who are not complying with our laws. We have law and the law must be respected and obeyed”.
“However, we will not detain or arrest any defaulting ship or vessel because this is what is causing panic. We’ve sent them demand notice and then they’ve also come and the agreement is that we should give them time. So we’ve agreed to set up the technical committee to resolve these issues,” he said.
The Special Advisers to the President on Revenue said that they held an interactive session within the stakeholders; oil and gas regulators, NNPC, Federal Inland Revenue and Presidency, represented by Special Adviser on Revenue and the Special Adviser on Energy; and have agreed to resolve this issue.
“There was demand notice, which was issued to the vessel owners or chattered, as it were, which is in accordance with the Nigerian tax law, that they should remit the tax deal to them, for the last ten years and that there were concerns about the timing of compliance or afraid of the enforcement,” he said.
The federal government has set up a technical committee comprising of the regulators, such as NUPRC, NMDRA, NNPC, FIRS, and the Office of Chief of Staff, SA Energy and SA Revenue, with the Secretariat, at the Federal Inland Revenue.
Adedeji said the technical committee will look at the concerns and reconcile the back taxes and set a process that will ensure compliance going forward.
“So we’ve agreed to give the parties three months to come to the conclusion and we will also give a grace period of six months, when we will not enforce any of these laws, just to allow for reconciliation. In essence, no vessel or ship will be detained or delayed. So we give this six month break for them so that they can reconcile with this technical committee that we set up.”
The Federal Government said Nigeria, is open for business and remained business friendly, as could be seen from what they are doing and what they will do.
“We are open, but that is not to say that anybody will take advantage of the country. We have the law and the law must be respected,” he explained.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Bunmi Toyobo said, their members collectively with the NNPCL, produced about 90% of the oil being produced in Nigeria and they generate about 50 to 60% of government revenue, adding that “we contribute about 70% to the GDP.”
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“The issue, which the Special Adviser on Revenue has talked to us about, we’ll like to thank both the Special Adviser on Revenue and Special Adviser on Energy for giving us their willing and listening ears. The issue at stake earlier on was that non-resident vessel owners, that’s non-Nigerian ship owners, are unwilling to come to Nigeria because of the potential enforcement of the Nigerian law, in terms of payment of taxes,” Toyobo said.