Uche Usim, Abuja

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Monday disclosed that the Buhari administration has spent $5.4 billion to settle states’ Paris Club over deductions, $6.8 on Joint Venture Cash Calls and N1.9 trillion on Contractor/Export Expansion Grant (EEG), in its efforts toclear the debts and liabilities inherited from previous administration.

Speaking at a maiden quarterly media briefing in Abuja, Ahmed said additional N488 billion had been refunded to states to undertake Federal government projects.

According to her, the feats were achieved from 2015 till date despite the revenue shortfall that had plagued the Buhari administration.

The minister further revealed that the Whistleblower Unit of the ministry had recovered over N8.5 billion and $465 million among others from the 1,051 investigations conducted after tip offs that were received.

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“The Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) under which over N35 billion was recovered with a significant recorded increase to our tax base.
Asset-tracing team that discovered assets that were not reported in the books of accounts of the Federation

“Going forward, we plan to launch Project Lighthouse that seeks to use big data analytics to provide intelligence to the tax authority on eligible taxpayers and their real taxable incomes and assets. As we plan to roll out the IPPIS to all other MDAs in 2019 and optimise Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), we are set for an improved PFM system that ensures
an efficient and cost- effective public service delivery for our citizens,” she explained.

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Ahmed noted that through the Pension Commission (Pencom), the ministry had paid N54 billion to settle outstanding pension arrears from 2014 – 2016, as well as paying pensions claims up to March 2017.

“Based on verification outcome by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), we have also paid over 2,000 former workers of our defunct national carrier – Nigeria Airways Limited

“We are making monthly payments of 9,215 former workers of NITEL/Mtel after over 12 years via Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). We have also paid over N571 million as gratuity and arrears to 174 Biafra War Affected Retired Police Officers (WARPRO) in October 2017,” she added.

The minister said plans were afoot to automate various revenue collection processes, such as the deployment of healthpay in the health sector, edupay in education and e-collections by our revenue authorities.

“We have seen revenue shore up to record-high levels. More specifically, FIRS deployed the e-services platform that has automated the end-to- end tax process from registration to collection of Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC).

“The tax initiatives spearheaded by FIRS also include the automation of VAT collection at source in some key sectors.

“Under my tenure as the Finance Minister, I intend to continue championing such digitalisation-transformation initiatives that have proven to be a good way forward for our revenue generation drive.

“In support of healthcare, we have committed up to US$21 million to invest in three healthcare projects which are being executed as public-private partnerships with three federal medical institutions under the management of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA),” she explained