by Lekan Olanrewaju
The Senate committee on aviation has ordered foreign airlines operating in the country to pay taxes on fuel surcharges.
The committee has directed the airlines to pay five percent of all Passenger Fuel Surcharge, PFS, to the Federal Government.
This came after a Senate public hearing on the breach of aviation laws by foreign airlines on Tuesday, where the airlines admitted that they had not been paying the five per cent as tax on ticket sales to the government.
The airlines defended themselves, saying that they were not aware of any law classifying the surcharge as revenue. However, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma asserted that the government was entitled to the charges, as the PFS was a revenue accruing to the airlines, and appeared in their account books as a major revenue source, which is taxable, and tasked the National Civil Aviation Authority to begin to recover the taxes from the airlines.
“It is the opinion of this committee that the government is entitled to five per cent of the PFS charged by the foreign airlines,” he said.
The Senate also ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to begin investigations of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways over alleged financial fraud and tax evasion.
Country Manager of British Airways, Kolawole Olayinka, and General Manager of Air France-KLM Nigeria, Mr Christian Herpi, both said their airlines were ready to comply with the directive.
Olayinka also noted the need for more airlines, and a national carrier.
“We need more airlines and a national carrier.” he said. “If not, we need to ensure that existing local airlines were supported to be able to fly the nation’s flag.”