By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
The Federal Executive Council yesterday approved N1.5 billion for advertising campaign of the scheme for nine months in radio, television, online and newspapers to drive $1 billion revenue under the Voluntary Asset Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
Disclosing this while briefing State House reporters after the cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, said the fund covered a nine-month advertising campaign for radio, television, newspapers and online media.
The FEC meeting was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
She also said the federal government has disclosed that out of the projected $1bn from the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), it has already realised $110m from two companies.
She also stated that she briefed the council on the progress under the tax amnesty and it has been very well received even as she noted that they are people who are ready to declare and pay.
Adeosun said “I presented a memo on the voluntary Asset Declaration Bill for approval of the sum of N1.5b to cover advertising campaign for 9 months, for Radio, TV, Online, newspapers including center spread.
“I also briefed FEC on the progress under the tax amnesty and it has been very well received. We have people who are ready to declare and pay. We sent out over 500 letters under the first batch, but there are thousands of Nigerians being targeted but the first 500 letters have gone out.
“We have started to get responses back and many people are asking for time to pay. Most of the governors have agreed to give more time for people to make arrangements for payments. This is indeed a very good news for Nigeria as it will help reduce over reliance on oil. It will improve our tax revenue so that whether oil prices are high or low, we will be able to provide basic services for our people.
“Very high net worth people are now being brought into the tax revenue profile. We hope to exceed the target that has been set. On the amount expected, we projected $1b and we have already gotten $110m and that is just from two companies. So, we feel we might exceed that target.’’
On the criteria adopted to get the first 500,she said” what we have done is we got Information on land registry details from the State governments and the FCT. We got Information from the BVN, Registration from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC and we began to match them.
“From that we could see the linkages. So, if someone lives in Lagos and have properties in Kaduna, London etc, but only declaring part, with these Information we get them. We also look at people who had come out in the Panama and Paradise papers, we look at People who have companies being paid by the government but are not paying the right taxes. Even if you have gotten a letter yet, do not think we have forgotten you. These are just the first 500, others will soon follow. It does not mean that we do not have you in our radar. For now, we are looking for the high risk people.
When asked how many persons have responded and how many governors are ready to work with the ministry, she said It is too early to give exact figure of the number of responses since they just started dispatching the letters on Monday.
According to her, the ministry has a telephone line dedicated to the project and a lot of people have called in to express their readiness to cooperate.
She explained “We met the governors just two days ago and they all agreed because personal Income taxes are also going to the state government coffers. They also agreed to accommodate those who agreed they are owing but haven’t got the cash to pay.
“Somebody might have the house but may not have the cash. Let’s give them chances to bring this money because this money us sustainable money and we have asked that they give them time to bring in this money and they have agreed to do so.. From now on, they are ready to pay their right taxes. “