By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Acting Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Mr Shettima Abba-Gana, has disclosed that a larger percentage of miners in the country engage in illegal business.
In view of this, the RMAFC boss has suggested the registration of illegal miners in the country so as to increase government’s tax revenue.
According to him, “If illegal miners are properly identified and given incentives, they will easily be captured into the tax net.
“What we need to do is register them; teach them modern mining; collect revenue from them and also let them expand.
“Help them with funding, organisation, marketing abroad and processing of the solid minerals.
“An illegal miner is not going to be ready to accept to come on board if he doesn’t know what his benefits will be.
“If you go and say you want to register them only for tax, they will probably not like it; but if you go to them with medical services, modern equipment and facilities for loan, they will willingly pay taxes.”
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on last Tuesday in Abuja, Mr Abba-Gana said adequate funding of the commission will translate to increase in Federal Government’s revenue generation profile.
He disclosed that the commission currently lacked modern working equipment and personnel for effective field monitoring, adding that majority of miners in the country were engaged in illegal mining and sabotaging government of millions of Naira.
He, however, commended the Federal Government for its approval of N30 billion for the Ministry of Steel and Solid Minerals.
“Let them be funded and let them have vehicles because you cannot go into the bush with saloon cars but with four-wheel drive and jeeps.
“These are terrains that are not motorable or with very poor roads and you need a lot of staff because Nigeria is large and we need people to go see what is going on in the field.
“We mentioned these lapses in our interim report and luckily N30 billion has been approved for the ministry; that is not enough, but at least it is a step in the right direction,” he said.
Mr Abba-Gana disclosed said the commission was constantly engaged in a country- wide monitoring to sensitise states and local governments to the need to embrace diversification, to increase the revenue base of these states and the nation.
He said every state had a deposit of different types of solid minerals and urged state governments to develop interest in developing the sector.
The acting chairman explained that the registration of miners would also assist the commission to have adequate statistics of the kind of solid minerals they were engaged in.
He said some of the minerals were actually security minerals which could be used in making bombs and other dangerous chemicals.
“So, it is important to know what mineral is being produced and where they are produced.
“It is also important to know who is producing them and where the minerals are going to.
“So as they are registered and tax is collected, the people are also trained to do proper mining.
“Unlike what is going on in Zamfara where lead and other poisonous chemicals are being used, killing people, endangering the future generation and destroying the land,” Mr Abba-Gana said.
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