From right, Representative of the Speaker, Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, Barr. Aniefiok Dennis; Chairman AKIRS, Mr. Okon Okon; and Chairman House of Assembly committee on Finance and Appropriations during an oversight visit to AKIRS on Tuesday 17th March 2020.

Commends AKIRS for improved revenue

By Abasifreke Effiong – Uyo

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly says it has given its full support to the state internal revenue service to sanction any company that defaults in payment of taxes to the state.

Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS) says many marine and offshore companies, including Total E & P and ADDAX, operating in the state are not paying relevant taxes to the state.

The House of Assembly through its Finance and Appropriations committee encouraged the Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS) to embark on a vigorous tax drive across all sectors in the state to be able to meet its over N52 billion IGR target for 2020.

The House says it fully supports the recent tax enforcement drive by AKIRS which saw the pasting of tax default notice on Mobil facility at QIT Ibeno, as well as some banks and educational institutions.

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Speaking during an interaction with Board and Management of AKIRS during its oversight visit on Tuesday, the Chairman, Committee on Finance and Appropriations, Mr. Uduak Udoudoh, said the House of Assembly will stand by the revenue service to ensure that all taxes due to the state are collected.

“We are on this visit as part of our oversight function to tell you that the House of Assembly will use all it legislative powers to support AKIRS to sanction any company operating in the state that defaults in tax payment.”

“By this visit, we are encouraging you to do more. You have the support of the legislature to generate revenue legitimately for the state.”

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“When you served the tax default notice on Mobil, some people criticised that action, but the House of Assembly is totally in support of that enforcement. If any organisation operating within the state defaults in tax payment, enforce the law. You have our support.”

The committee commended AKIRS led by Mr. Okon Okon, for raising the state’s IGR to an all-time highest since the Board was inaugurated in 2017, encouraged the Board to device means to bring more people in the informal sector under the tax net.

“By our own assessment at the end of 2019, and the positive assessment from other people, we say you are doing well”, the committee chairman emphasised.

The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr. Aniekan Bassey represented by Barr. Aniefiok Dennis, who was part of the oversight team commended AKIRS for ensuring significant improvement in the state’s IGR.

Bassey said with that the outbreak of coronavirus and the sudden dip in crude oil price, the state will have to depend more on IGR to fund ongoing projects.

The Speaker said therefore, the AKIRS should always be conscious of the critical role it has to play in the actualisation of government’s plans for Akwa Ibom people.

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The chairman of AKIRS, Mr. Okon Okon, thanked the House of Assembly for what he called “power collaboration” between the legislature and other institutions of government in the state, noting that such partnership is important for smooth operations of organisations.

Okon said prior to his appointment as chairman of AKIRS, the highest annual IGR the state generated was N15 billion. He noted the current Board of AKIRS adopted a strategic approach which grew the state’s IGR to N24.2 billion in 2018 and N32.3 billion in 2019.

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He said the performance of AKIRS in the 2020 fiscal year will excite Akwa Ibom people.

“We have signed off a budget of N52 billion with the state government for 2020 and we are committed to that. Our first quarter results will soon be out and it will excite the people of Akwa Ibom state.”

The state’s chief tax collector told the Finance and Appropriations committee that many companies operating in the maritime space of the state were not paying relevant taxes to the state.

“We have a serious case of non-compliance from marine and offshore companies. We discovered recently that most of the oil giants operating in the state are not paying tax. As we speak, we are in court with Total and ADDAX because they don’t pay tax to the state; they said they are not operating in the state territorial waters.”

Okon said the current AKIRS Board is building strong institutional framework that will ensure consistent improvement in revenue collection, disclosed that the Board has digitised most of its tax collection processes.

“In terms of technology infrastructure, we can tell you that, we have to a significant stage digitised our operations. We have what is called Tax Management System (TMS) which allows tax payers to interact with our system online and pay their taxes.”

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He appealed to government to support AKIRS with operational vehicles.

“We have challenges with work tools especially vehicles to go on tax drive. We are also looking at having a two or three floor building that will make all our staff be in one facility.”

The AKIRS chairman in company of his Board members and management staff conducted the Speaker and members of the Finance and Appropriations committee around facilities in the revenue house.