More companies are moving to free zones established by the Nigerian Export Processing Free Zones Authority (NEPZA) and the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) to avoid taxes.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee, Oluwole Oke revealed this during a dialogue on the Growth Initiative for Budget Transparency (GIFT) in Abuja. This is a series of dialogues supported by USAID and implemented by OrderPaper Advocacy.
He also questioned OGFZA, being a separate entity and not licensed by NEPZA, noting that the two free zone authorities should have been registered by the Commercial Affairs Commission (CAC) but were now registered companies in the place.
Oke said, “All the big companies that pay taxes in Nigeria have suddenly moved to free zones to avoid paying taxes. The Dangote Free Zone has registered 101 companies there and NEPZA and CAC have no knowledge of these companies; where is it in other countries?
He noted that with this model, Nigeria was losing huge tax revenue and “this country is bleeding”.
OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative (OAI) executive director Oke Epia said the dialogue focused on Nigeria’s revenue crisis and remittances from the extractive (oil) industry.
He called on the National Assembly to expedite the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (2007) to enhance remittances through an empowered Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC).
FRC Executive Chairman Victor Muruako said the commission resulted in more than 1.7 trillion naira being paid into the Treasury (CRF) even with all the shortcomings of the FRA, noting that the amended law would strengthen accountability .
“We have always advocated, and will continue to advocate, for the FRA to be amended to strengthen the commission and ultimately help to instill a culture of prudence, transparency and accountability in our management of finances. public,” he noted.