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Tax invasion:Assembly invites Elftotalfina

Posted by The Port Harcourt Telegraph on 2005/03/17 | Views: 1178 |

Tax invasion:Assembly invites Elftotalfina


The Rivers State House of Assembly has set in motion apparatus geared towards bringing companies that have been evading tax payment to book.

The Rivers State House of Assembly has set in motion apparatus geared towards bringing companies that have been evading tax payment to book.

Last week, the House committee chairman in charge of revenue, Hon. Chidi Lloyd had on behalf of the committee hinted the house of the activities of two companies that have not been paying their taxes as at when due.

The motion presented by the Emohua lawmaker urged the house to summon the Executive Director of H.I.S Engineering, Tax and Finance Managers, TOTAL FINA ELF to appear before it.

Considering the importance of the motion, the presiding officer of the day, Hon. Tonye Harry ruled that the Managing Director H.I.S. Engineering Company Limited, Tax and Finance Manager of the Company, the Commissioner of Finance in the state and the chairman of Board of Internal Revenue in the state should all appear before the house on Monday 14th March, 2005.

Consequently, on the said date, the persons so summoned all appeared on the floor of the house for questioning. It was an interesting session as Mr. Boge Robert, a Netherlands expatriate faced bomb shells from the Assembly men.

While putting questions across to the company, the lawmakers were startled to realize that two company names, H.I.S. Technical Nig Ltd and H.I.S. Engineering Company Limited have been paraded by what looked like the operators of H.I.S. But what surprised our men in the House was the fact that even though the company manager had revealed that H.I.S. started its business operation in Port Harcourt since the year 2000, the company was only able to tender a tax receipt payment for the month of February 2005.

The Finance Commissioner, Kenneth Kobani, did not waste time explaining that the company has been evading tax since their inception, but only rushed to pay the said February 2005 tax which according to the payment papers amounted to the sum of N44,000.60 after the company had assaulted the state's revenue officials.

Another controversy also ensued, while the company management said H.I.S. Engineering has a sign post indicating the name and address of the company, the Internal Revenue Officials posited that the company does not have anything like sign post.

Other lawmakers wanted to know the company's Certificate of Occupancy, so as to knowing whether the company is operating in a designated industrial area, or illegally doing business in residential environment.

To clear the air off these nebulous arguments, the Speaker, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi had ruled that the house committee on Revenue should immediately follow the company to its office to ascertain the position of the tax payment receipts paid from 2000 till date as claimed by the company manager, Mr. Boye Robert and other issues that the committee might deem worthy of further investigation and clarification and report same back to the House on Wednesday for debates.

If it is discovered that the company manager's position before the House holds sway, Hon. Amaechi maintained that the House's search light on tax payment anomalies would swiftly be turned towards the state's ministry of finance and that of the Board of Internal Revenue, to know who actually is rubbing the state of its legitimate source of revenue.

Day two Tuesday 15th March 2005, which was the day Elf Nig Limited would appear before the House was quite dramatic.
The officials of Elf represented by the company's lawyer and its tax manager, Mr. Ezeji armed with the tax law of the country quoted extensively from the book of law to support the position of the company, which has it that except members of the State's Internal Revenue Board, no other agency, including the State's Revenue Consultant is allowed to visit the company for the collection of PAYE for the state.

The state's finance ministry led by its commissioner, Mr. Kenneth Kobani had earlier argued that Elf has been evading payment of taxes or better put, had not allowed proper auditing of its tax payment processes before paying the PAYE to the designated bank.

According to Kobani, Elf only paid what it wanted to pay as income tax to the state, since the multinational company has not kept an open record regarding its tax payment to the state's ministry of Finance and its subsidiary, the Board of Internal Revenue.

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