Niger: the tax on banks

President Mahamadou Issoufou inaugurating the Housing Bank of Niger (BHN) on December 14, 2018.

Banking and financial institutions in Niger are gray mines at the beginning of the last quarter of 2019. The reason, interest as sudden and keen and very urgent tax administration for them.

Niger has pledged to international donors to « significantly reduce its budget deficit through, inter alia, better mobilization of domestic resources, » his tax administration seems determined to recipe any business! As a result, controlled almost all of the second half of 2018 for the 2016, 2017 and mid-2018 fiscal years, Niger’s banking and financial institutions were prescribed, at the end of the transaction, tax adjustments, the amounts of which went from 600 million FCFA to 6 billion. And as if to do it right, Niger’s tax regulations stipulate that « the amounts found in administrative disputes are the subject, before any jurisdictional referral, of direct payments up to 75% of the said amounts … »!

While they are still there, who, to challenge the materiality of the financial slate set, who to negotiate that the prescribed amount be adjusted in light of additional supporting documents provided, who still seek a satisfactory compromise for all parties … the tax authorities come again, a few weeks ago, to melt on the same institutions with the target, once again, the exercises of the same periods. But under a new seal, that of « checks on parts », which shelters them from an accusation – which would have been justified – to practice « successive controls of the same nature », thus a fiscal harassment. A beautiful parade!

Never mind, in the banking and financial landerneau of Niamey, we do not less about this new « descent » of tax officials. We do not hesitate any more to speak of « relentlessness ». And, it is not excluded that the Professional Association of Banks and Financial Institutions (APBEF) of Niger eventually banging on the table. The sequence of events and their entanglement tends to credit the feeling of fiscal reliance on the sector.

Indeed, the standoff of the administration with some industrial companies that led Unilever, Orange Niger and Brasseries du Niger (BraNiger) to « desert » Niger at the end of last year, made the banking sector, one of the « collateral victims » by exposing him to significant financial risks. For the only French telecom giant, the exposure of Nigerian banks is about 37 billion FCFA, which says a lot about the worrying that the situation has, certainly, for the banking sector, but must also have for the government. Next, the amounts set by the Taxes in administrative litigation at the end of the controls of the three previous financial years of the banking and financial institutions appear to these, in many cases, « out of proportion ». Finally, the banking institutions are not finished with the first two situations that they are, again, object of control.

As if it did not draw all the consequences of the withdrawal of the country from some multinationals, the Nigerian tax administration strengthened its grip on the banking sector. But at what cost ?

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