Business - Business & Economy - News - September 29, 2021

IGR: Let taxpayers see, feel value for their tax, FIRS Chairman tells governors, others

By Bassey Udo

Governments at all levels must strive to let taxpayers see and feel the value for their tax monies the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mohammed Nami, has said.

Nami said the value could be seen and felt through the effective utilization of tax revenues by the government to provide quality welfare services to the people.

The Chairman who stated this in his goodwill message to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum’s 7th Internally Generated Revenue Learning Event in Abuja on Wednesday, said tax-compliant citizens legitimately expect their leaders to provide them with necessary amenities for good living.

“Tax compliant citizens can legitimately expect their leaders to provide necessary amenities for a ‘good life’, ” Nami noted.

“This expectation is confirmed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) in section 16(b) which provides that ‘the State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution, control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity’”.

He added: “Governments at various tiers must, in view of the constitutional provisions, imbibe the culture of “value-for-money” or, put in proper perspective, “value-for tax-money”. 

“The citizens should not just hear budget figures, but must, within their immediate living quarters, feel, see and experience effects of tax revenue. … This, going forward, should be the norm and not an exception”, he said.

The FIRS Chairman who encouraged the state governors to look inwards and create alternative sources of revenue away from oil, also urged them to adopt the right tax policies to be able to fund infrastructure decelopment in their domains.

Nigeria, he said, has, over the years, been dependent on revenue from crude oil, adding that this source of revenue was no longer sustainable, as the market for fossil fuel continues to be depleted.

He blamed this on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the shift from fossil fuel to other cleaner sources of energy, rising cost of exploration, banditry and oil theft, etc.

“In plain truth, the future of crude oil as a major revenue earner is very bleak.  Going forward, taxation remains the only sustainable source of revenue anywhere in the world – Nigeria is not an exception.

“To this end, Your Excellencies need to adopt right tax policies that will ensure adequate funding for the much needed social-economic infrastructures. 

“Equally, it is important for governments, at all levels, to come together to fight tax evasion, touting, etc. which are negatively impacting tax revenue,” Nami said.

Besides, the FIRS boss said greater attention must be given to matters of taxation, especially at the state legislatures.

For more than 22years since Nigeria started the current democratic dispensation, Nami said it was surprising that none of the state legislative assemblies has a tax committee. 

Taxation, he noted, must be seen in its proper context, such that all arms of government (legislative, executive and judiciary) should accord it the attention it deserves.

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