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Nigeria’s diaspora remittances hit $35b

Nigerians living outside the country have so far remitted over $35 billion back to the country this year,  the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora matters, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has said.

Speaking in Abuja yesterday when she paid a courtesy visit to the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler.

According to Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, “in 2016 they remitted $35 billion which is higher than what was remitted in 2015. This the highest in Africa and the third largest in the world.”

The former House of Representatives member drew the attention of the FIRS team to tax concerns raised by Nigerians in diaspora. According to her, “there is a lot of talk about your organisation from diasporans concerning taxes-whether there will be tax incentives for Nigerians coming back home to engage in agriculture and other businesses; what are the plans and projects for them? Recently, they expressed concern over reports that we need to pay tax on our passports.”

She noted that both the FIRS and her office needed to communicate with Nigerians in diaspora, stressing that “there should be collaboration between both offices to disseminate information in case they have questions or want answers.”

Responding, Fowler clarified the passport issue. He said: “What we are saying is, if you want any immigration services either you want to renew your passport or get a new one, so long as you’re an adult and you’re making an income, you just have to show evidence of tax payment. There is no direct tax on passports; it’s just to show evidence of paying tax and of course, you’re entitled to all the services of government.

“Nigerians abroad have 99.9 per cent tax compliance just because there are consequences for not paying taxes in those countries. If they decide to come as investors, we do have incentives for pioneer status or waivers and once they make their application to the Federal Ministry of Finance, it would be looked into and if it is in an area of pioneer status, I am sure it would be granted and we also do not believe in double taxation.”

He also told Nigerians both at home and abroad that “you only pay tax on income of profit, so if you do not make profit, you do not pay tax so also, if you don’t have an income. It is only right that those who come to the country to do business and make profit pay tax.”

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