The Federal government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has partnered with Afropolitan Media Limited to launch a national sensitization and capacity-building training program for over 50 finance correspondents. The training which is aimed at deepening the knowledge of Nigerian tax administration among media professionals to enable them to report the sector better for the understanding and benefit of taxpayers in the country. The first of the capacity-building series was held on March 29, 2023, at Golden gate Hotel, Keffi LGA of Nasarawa state with finance correspondents from both legacy and new media organizations in attendance. The training program is essential due to several reforms initiated by the FIRS under the leadership of its Executive Chairman, Mr Muhammad Nami, and the new challenges posed by rapidly unfolding developments to tax bodies in the country and globally, especially by e-commerce, which has obliterated transnational borders and broken down transcontinental barriers. In her Welcome Address at the one-day event, Chief Executive Officer, of Afropolitan Media Limited, Hajiya A’isha Umar Halilu, stated that “the workshop aims to bring participants up to date on current challenges faced by tax authorities like the FIRS and the importance of the media reporting these challenges ethically and responsibly in close collaboration with the FIRS & other tax bodies at the sub-national levels and for the education of the taxpaying public.” Hajiya Halilu lauded Mr Nami and the FIRS for supporting the capacity-building training programme for media professionals in the country. She urged the finance correspondents to participate actively in the workshop and wished all “a fruitful deliberation.” Saturday Sun reports that the theme for the capacity-building programme is “The Role of the FIRS in Driving the Nation’s Tax Administration for Nation-Building.” Participants were taken through three modules by distinguished chartered accountants, Malam Shehu Olaitan Mohammed and Mr. Ma’roof Ibraheem Ajibola. Malam Mohammed delivered the module on “General Overview of the Nigerian Tax Ecosystem,” while Mr Ajibola took the finance correspondents through another set of two modules entitled “FIRS: Roles, Responsibilities and Administration” and “Reforms and Innovations in the FIRS: Tax Promax, SENTINAL and Financial Acts” since the appointment of Mr Nami as Executive Chairman, FIRS in December 2019 till date. Malam Mohammed delivered the module on a “General Overview of the Nigerian Tax Ecosystem”, breaking it down to the basics in concise, clear bits covering federal, state and local government tax administrations, the types of taxes each level is backed by law to collect and the operational setup of the FIRS, the taxes the Service collects, their percentages and other technical details in taxation. Mohammed stated that the Nami reforms at the FIRS have widened the Nigerian tax net, leading to new record collections despite such global challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic. Another presenter, Mr Ajibola whose presentation demonstrated that the FIRS under Mr Nami had modernized the Nigerian Tax Administration and integrated it into the global taxation system through cutting-edge, homegrown Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and partnership with tax authorities across the world. Ajibola stated that the Tax Promax automated tax software currently in use by the FIRS was conceived and built by FIRS staff under the direction of Mr Nami and the current FIRS Board. Before this, he said the FIRS had relied on a Canadian-built software – Amanda – to collect tax in the country, which was serviced at a huge foreign exchange burden on Nigeria. Ajibola disclosed further that the FIRS uses the global SENTINAL software system to track and tax e-commerce transactions in Nigeria, stressing that this has enabled the Service to block holes hitherto in the tax net, making it impossible for anyone to evade paying tax on online purchases, betting, etc. He also spoke on the 2019 origin of the Finance Act, which is renewed yearly by an act of the National Assembly. Saturday Sun also reports that the FIRS/Afropolitan capacity-building program for professional media practitioners is scheduled to continue in Kaduna and Kano. A participant, Abel Leonard, a journalist with the Daily Sun Newspaper, expressed his appreciation for the training and lauded the FIRS for the initiative. He emphasized that the knowledge gained from the training will enable journalists to better report on tax-related issues and bring about more informed discourse in the media. Another participant, David Odama of the Vanguard Newspaper, also praised the organizers of the program for their efforts in educating journalists on tax matters. He noted that the training will go a long way in enhancing the quality of tax reportage in Nigeria.

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