Headlines Policy Advisory Council Recommends Customs, NIMASA, FIRS Merger By maritimemag June 17, 2023 ShareTweet 0 By Abiola THOMAS The merger of Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS has been advocated. In the report submitted by President Bola Tinubu Policy Advisory Council on Friday, the merger is aimed at enabling an efficient collection of all direct and indirect taxes, as well as levies on behalf of the Federal Government. According to submissions made by the National Economy Sub-Committee, the policy will be aided by the passage of an Emergency Economic Reform Bill which will grant the President special powers to drive the economic reform agenda and support the delivery of sustainable and inclusive economic growth as set targets to be pursued by the President towards the achievement of some milestones within the first 100 days in office. The council further outlined the removal of fuel subsidy, sale or concession of select government assets, transition to a transparent and unified foreign exchange rate system, deepening tax collection and optimization of operating expenditure to reduce cost. Members of the Policy Advisory Council are Senator Tokunbo Abiru (Chairman), Dr Yemi Cardoso, Sumaila Zubairu and Dr Doris Anite. The report partly reads, “Passage of an Emergency Economic Reform Bill to grant the President special powers to drive the economic reform agenda to declare a state of emergency in revenue generation and national security. “Transform FIRS, Customs, NIMASA, etc into the Nigerian Revenue Service to collect all direct and indirect taxes and levies on behalf of the Federal Government. “Reform the Central Bank of Nigeria, implement civil service reform/ Oronsaye Report. “Make interim leadership appointments (to be ratified later by the National Assembly) and make temporary increases in fiscal circuit-breakers, e.g. debt limits, later ratified by the National Assembly.” The council’s report, which focuses on fiscal and monetary policies, industry, trade and capital market reforms, emphasised that changes in the Central Bank of Nigeria and temporary increases in fiscal circuit breakers such as debt limits would help achieve N1trn Gross Domestic Product growth and over 50 million jobs for citizens in eight years. The 90-page document further proposed that reforms in the CBN will help achieve about $50bn-$60bn in external reserves, with a monthly inflow of at least $6bn-$8bn from export earnings and other forms of capital inflow, to support the policy at an exchange rate of N500-N600/$. On fiscal policies to be implemented, the council advised on the need to achieve a domestic refining capacity of two million barrels per day, while creating economic opportunity for the host communities. They also proposed one-off Personal Income Tax reliefs for low-income earners for up to one year as non-cash palliatives to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal. The advisory reads, “Ramp up production capacity to four million barrels from offshore and onshore assets within four years and grow crude oil revenue and savings into ECA and NSIA. “Formalise illegal refineries and encourage modular refineries to create economic opportunity for the host communities. “Aggressively grow domestic refining capacity to 2 million barrels per day in the next 8 years, including modular refineries. Other fiscal recommendations proposed include, “a policy directive that ensures proceeds from the sale of assets to settle existing FGN debt obligations. “List shares of strategic and profitable NNPC subsidiaries. Privatise, concession or sell down FGN’s stake in corporate assets to partners and other investors (possibly with a buyback option) to generate liquidity in the short to medium terms (focus on sub-optimal assets e.g., NNPCL refineries). “Leverage blockchain to create and provide access to a government land registry and regionalise and concession the power transmission grid.” Furthermore, the advisory council proposed the extension of old naira circulation till December 2024 in order to resolve the cash shortage situation, if required. It also advised a five per cent monthly gradual removal of the old notes and replacement with new notes through the deposit money banks. They said, “Extend the December 31st, 2023, deadline to December 31st, 2024 (if required), and bring in new notes through the deposit money banks by 5% monthly and take out the old notes through the deposit money banks by the same 5 per cent to solve cash shortage.” The policy added, “To transform Nigeria to become Africa’s most efficient trading nation, decongest the area up to 4km around the ports and designate them for cargo, roads and railway, enforce the Presidential directive on 48hr clearance of goods at seaports. “In line with Executive Order 001, redefine the performance measures of key agencies of government to emphasise trade facilitation and set up a whistle-blowing mechanism that enables and empowers transporters to report and escalate issues with the various authorities while transporting food and other critical items.” © 2023, maritimemag. All rights reserved.