Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Thursday in Abuja, tasked the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) on finding ways to improve on the collection of non-oil tax revenue.
Saraki gave the charge when the FIRS Acting Chairman, Mr Samuel Ogungbesan, came to brief the leadership of the Senate on the performance of the agency in the first half of 2015 fiscal year.
The Senate President frowned at the country’s dependence on revenue generated from crude oil sales, saying: “I think Nigeria’s continued dependence on oil is not something we should encourage.’’
Saraki noted that non-oil revenue was capable of making up for the revenue shortfall recorded by the country following the drop in international oil price.
Earlier in his address, Ogugbesan disclosed that FIRS collected N1.85 trillion as tax from the various sectors of the economy between January and June this year.
Ogungbesan gave the breakdown of the tax revenue collected as: N697 billion generated from Petroleum Profit Tax; N778 billion from Company Tax and N376 billion from Value Added Tax.
He explained that there was a decrease in non-oil revenue due to the increase in tax evasion by individuals and corporate bodies in the country.
According to him, efforts by the FIRS to get surcharges from owners of private jets and mansions in the country over the years had yet to yield positive results.
“We looked at those who own private jets and thought that yes, you are enjoying facilities and assets Nigerians do not have privilege to enjoying.
“We will name something we call surcharge on you, and of course customs also was to do some others like furniture surcharge, mansion surcharge, various kind of surcharges.
“But regrettably, we have not been able to administer this. One, we have challenges; we raised assessment on about 130 private jet owners because we were made to understand that we have up to that number,’’ Ogungbesan said.
He further explained that the agency recorded low revenue collection this year as a result of the general election and delay in the passage of the 2015 budget.
Other factors, according to him, include poor financing of the real sector by banks and Boko Haram insurgency in the North East region.
The FIRS boss, however, expressed optimism that the new administration would work toward improving on the country’s revenue base.