By NBF News

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru has urged Nigerians to appreciate the challenges posed by the international financial crisis raging in Greece, Portugal, Belgium and other European countries and the United States,

The FIRS chairman spoke in Kano, at the Regional Enlarged Management Meeting, REMM of the North-west zone and Large Tax Office, (LTO) Kano, of the FIRS.

FIRS boss anchored her fear on the implication of the slide in these economies on Nigeria 's mono-product: oil, adding that these slide could result in reduction in oil receipts and a slice in income for Nigeria.

These possibilities, Omoigui Okauru insisted, represent a challenge to tax authorities to plug operational loopholes, increase the tax base and contribute to the task of putting food on the table of Nigerians.

The FIRS Executive Chairman further said: 'the global economy this year has not been looking nice. We are witnesses to what is happening in Greece, Belgium, Portugal, other countries of the EU and the United States.

She added that, 'with weak demands coming from these countries, it will affect our receipts oil. This places a challenge on us (FIRS), to look at non-oil sources of raising revenue from non oil sector and non-oil based taxes to improve the quality of life of our people.

'We must expand our tax base. Beyond that though, we must improve the efficiency of our operations, plug loopholes and strengthen our enforcement operations' she said.

'What that means also is that we cannot afford to differentiate between government agencies and private institutions on how we relate to them on enforcement. We should not just write letters and get promises. You need to educate and sensitize quite alright. But enforcement must go hand in hand.'

'We need to recognize the fact that revenue has become to priority. It's important that we realize that we play an important role.'

Samuel Ogungbesan, Coordinating Director, Tax Operations Group, (TOG) in his opening remarks, noted that the paucity of 'relevant basic operation data like sectoral distribution of taxpayers, audit statistics and in some cases, list of tax debtors at regional and tax offices. The situation now calls for concerted action, which has just been launched as a major project focus. It is a challenge today, but it will soon disappear as a problem.'