Countering claims that the FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service) had proposed N1.4 billion for the budgetary sub-head of refreshment, a group of at least 180 Civil Society Organisations, (CSOs) have explained how the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, rather voted about N340 million for refreshments in its 2021 budget estimates.
This was made known by the President of the Civil Society Groups for Good Governance (CSGGG), Comrade Dominic Ogakwu, while addressing Journalists at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Utako, Abuja. The President had said it had relied on the Freedom of Information, FOI, Law to request relevant documents from the FIRS before addressing the allegation. He went on to state;
“As a mediator and crusader for social justice and equality, CSGGG officially wrote the FIRS on the 12th of March 2021, requesting clarifications on the above allegations. Interestingly, we got a response with detailed facts and figures, as against the unsubstantiated claims being peddled by unscrupulous elements in the public domain.
“We gladly announce here that our investigations and consequent findings, have necessitated this press conference, so as to set the records straight for posterity’s sake.
“CSGGG is hereby clarifying the misconceptions surrounding the alleged proposed 2021 draft budget for FIRS refreshments in 2021 and what was finally submitted to the National Assembly for approval.
“At this juncture, a breakdown of the alleged infraction will suffice. Refreshment and meals amounting to Three Hundred and Forty million naira (₦340,000,000.00) is under sub code 1001.
“The Sub-Code 1001, which is for Refreshment & Meals estimated at ₦340,000,000.00, for meetings with stakeholders and taxpayers, Office Functions, Technical Sessions, and Promotion Exercise Etc.
“In addition, the above Sub-Code deals with general entertainment/refreshments during meetings in the field offices, Head Office/Committee engagements across the FIRS in the 37 States, inclusive of FCT; and in the Headquarters, including Board Meetings and Tax Appeal Tribunal amongst others. There are over 500 Offices and Functions in FIRS and what each of these would get would be very negligible when analysed on monthly basis.
“However, it should be noted that budget provision being an estimate of income and a plan for domestic expenditure by an organisation, does not translate to actual expenditure, because the amount to be actually spent would still depend on the actual fund released and received by the Service, on the basis of performance and delivery.”
The Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria HURIWA had recently accused the FIRS of voting about N1.4 billion for refreshments in its 2021 budget estimates.
The CSOs, therefore, advised HURIWA to visit the service for an inquest, “rather than sitting on the fence to cast aspersions.”