FTZs incentives: FIRS’ new tax pact to boost understanding, end suspicion’

The managing director, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, has clarified that the new tax pact with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was aimed at enhancing better understanding of the Free Trade Zones Scheme’s tax-exempt index “so as to end the long years of unbridled suspicion over its implementation.”

According to a press statement issued Thursday by NEPZA’s head of corporate communications, Martins Odeh, Adesugba stated this in his address during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the new tax administration in Abuja.

“With this pact there will be no more arbitrary freezing of bank accounts of any of our enterprises or uncontrolled entering of the zones to harass them without permission of the Authority and collaborative understanding of FIRS.

“The MoU is also to streamline grey areas and get the two agencies to complement each other’s statutory mandates. “Before now, when we were supposed to speak with one voice towards the same goal, we would choose to sing discordance tunes,” he said.

The NEPZA boss also said there was no gainsaying that the FIRS remained one of the key revenue drivers, adding that the Authority had the regulatory mandate to attract investment through the scheme with approved incentives as sweeteners.

“This MoU is, however, not new, as there has been an existing tax schedule for the free trade zone. Today’s exercise only aims at unbundling and strengthening this schedule for compliance purposes in line with Section 19 of the NEPZA Act.

“This new understanding is expected to correct this wrong notion. For instance, the personnel of the over 500 enterprises that operate in the 22 active zones across the country religiously comply with PAYE tax.”

In his remarks, the executive chairman, FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami, said NEPZA’s mandate in attracting Foreign Direct Investment and Local Direct Investment placed it as an important agency to drive the country’s industrialisation.

Nami, however, said the public must appreciate the mandate of the FIRS that basically geared toward the collection of revenues to be used by government for the good of the citizens, adding that the collaboration was required to set the country’s tax records straight.