Chairman, Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee, Taiwo Oyedele has said the committee will spend billions on its operations.
In a statement posted on his X (formerly Twitter) page on Friday, Oyedele noted that the contentious N5 billion given to the Joint Tax Board by the Federal Inland Revenue was to cover the committee’s budget.
Recall that the immediate past executive chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami while reacting to an allegation of fund appropriation, had disclosed on Thursday that the service paid the said sum to the JTB after its approval by the presidency.
Nami said, “The N5 billion paid to the Joint Tax Board was paid to fund the activities of the Presidential Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy Reforms two months before I left office. It was paid after we received a letter to that effect from the office of Mr. President signed by Zacch Adedeji himself.”
While giving the breakdown of the committee’s budget, Oyedele disclosed the money will be used to fund the national ‘Data for Tax project’ which he said was important to the effective reform of the country’s tax system.
The statement reads in part, “The Committee’s budget includes provisions for a national “Data for Tax” project which the JTB 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.
“Other expenses included in the committee’s budget, which has the approval of the National Assembly, include 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 6 different subcommittees, more than 30 Secretariat personnel and over 40 students across the country.
Oyedele noted that the committee has been mandated to ensure accountability therefore all expenses are properly documented and available for audit.
He said, “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.”