Abubakar Malami

FG Unfolds Strategy to Recover Offshore Assets, Infrastructural Development

The Federal Government has called on all Nigerians outside the shores of the country to key into Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS) for the infrastructural development of the country.

The Honorable Attorney – General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), made this known during the unveiling of the VOARS in Abuja, on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019.

HAGF explained that the (VOARS) Scheme is a means of providing an opportunity for taxpayers or amnesty for tax defaulters to voluntary declare their offshore assets and income from sources outside Nigeria relating to the preceding thirty (30) years of assessment and in return obtain some benefits.

Malami further explained that the signing of the Executive Order 8 by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8th, 2018 serves as a legal basis for the Swiss Consortium to approach third party holders of the fund with the view of assessing information of the owners.

He disclosed that the scheme is initiated by the Swiss Consortium with a view to facilitating regularization of offshore assets owned by Nigerians, adding that it is expected that those funds owned by Nigerians that are not in the system will be voluntarily declared by the owners.

According to him “This Nigeria Infrastructure Fund is aimed at imploring and encouraging Nigerians with offshore assets holdings to invest in the infrastructure with a view to increasing Nigeria tax base, bridging Nigeria Infrastructure deficit and inviting direct foreign investment for the development of infrastructure in Nigeria.”

He pointed that when funds are voluntarily declared by the owners, the Federal Government of Nigeria will deduct thirty-five percent (35%) recoveries while two and half percent (2 ½%) will be charged as administrative fees for purpose of assessing the funds while sixty-three percent (63%) will be registered in the system to become taxable in Nigeria.

HAGF, reiterated that the Infrastructure Fund will serve as a proposed investment facility, where the Federal Government of Nigeria will have minimal investment, with the matching investments from banks and prospective international investors as well as Nigerians, he added that holders of the sixty-three percent (63%) who are expected to invest into this fund with the view of financing Nigerians infrastructure and bridging the deficient all attracting Foreign Direct Investment.

Malami highlighted some of the benefits which includes permanent waiver of criminal prosecution for tax offences; waiver from tax audit of the declared and regularized offshore assets; waiver of interest and penalties on the declared and regularized offshore assets and amongst others.

Earlier, the Honorable Minister of Finance, Hayija Zainab Ahmed in her remarks emphasized that the culture of accountability and honesty in citizens to fully declare any income and assets owned will begin to grow and will encourage more citizens to readily come forward to declare without any threat of interrogation or prosecution.

Ahmed expressed that this is coming at the time when Federal Government is particularly focused on growing government revenue, expanding the tax base and curbing corruption as well illicit financial flows.

“As we all know, the importance of taxation to national development is critical. Despite having one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world at 5% the number of Nigerians who regularly and truthfully pay their full taxes is significantly lower than it ought to be,” she said.

She urged all citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pay their taxes promptly and to fully declare any income and assets to appropriate agencies.

The Representative of Swiss Consortium, Former Attorney- General of Switzerland, Daniel Zappelli in his remarks explained that he used to be in-charge of Abacha’s loot in Geneva and had helped to freeze assets and repatriated millions of funds to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Zappelli said as Tax Executives, they intend to support the Nigerian Government and also make tax payers happy.

Ogundoro Modupe

Deputy Director (information)