By Ibrahim Umar
President Muhammadu Buhari has sounded the alarm bell against multinationals indulging in tax evasion. Lai Mohammed, minister for information, spoke the government’s mind during a briefing to state house correspondents at the end of Wednesday’s federal executive council meeting. Mohammed said federal government had approved a multilateral competent agreement and the exchange of country-by-country report that will detect possible differentials in returns filed by multinationals in Nigeria and in other places they operate.
He explained that the report would give government a better grip on tax laws, prevent tax evasions and avoidance by multinational companies.
“Where multinational companies operate in more than one country, it is quite easy for them to move profit from one territory to another territory where the tax laws are very favourable to them and what has happened over the years is that the revenue companies have lost a lot of money,” he said.
“As at the last count over N1 trillion has been lost over a period of time and the revenue companies have found that they were losing more money in terms of tax evasion and avoidance than what they were even receiving as grants from multinational agencies.
“So this is a law that provides that if a company like MTN or Nestle for instance, is operating in Nigeria, not only must he file returns on his activities in Nigeria, he must also file returns on his activities in every other country that they are doing business so that you can see from there whether there is any attempt to hide figures.
“Apart from shoring up our finances, I think it is part of the fight against corruption and it also enhances transparency”, Mohammed stated.
The minister said government had lost over N1 trillion to tax evasion.