To derive maximum benefit from the tax incentives granted by the government to individuals and corporate entities in the country, the process should be subjected to legislation and oversight, the Tax Justice and Governance Platform Nigeria, has advised the government.
The Programmes Manager, Governance, Actionaid Nigeria, Celestine Odo, allowing the National Assembly to handle the process of granting waivers and tax incentives would help check the abuse of such incentives to companies at the detriment of raising taxes to develop the country’s economy.
Speaking at a news conference as part of activities to mark the Tax Justice Week in Abuja, Odo said the call became imperative to strike a delicate balance between maximising revenue opportunities for the government and prioritising expenditure.
The theme of Tax Justice Week, which began on Monday, December 5 till Friday, was ”Tax Expenditure and the Implication for National Development”.
During the conference, Odo said participants would deliberate extensively on fiscal policies and practice reforms as well as discuss the instrumentality of tax as the most reliable and sustainable fiscal policy tool to meet Nigeria’s development objectives, especially under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Other topics for deliberation during the conference include fiscal governance issues such as Innovative strategies and amendments to different legal and policy frameworks regulation and monitoring of tax incentives; Inter-agency collaborations and coordination; data computerizations of taxpayers; widening of the tax net, the prevailing debt crisis in the country in relation to harmful tax expenditure, increase in revenue collection that is challenged with leakages, avoidance and evasion, among others.
Odo said that the conference identified some challenges that were militating against an effective tax justice regime in Nigeria, including inadequate data from government sources; lack of strong political will on the implementation and adherence to the provisions of the fiscal responsibility Act 2007.
“Others are poor collaborations and coordination among government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to report on tax expenditures etc.,” he said
Senior Programme Coordinator,Christian Aid, Uzoma Uzor, who also spoke unbehalf of the group said recommendations made during the conference included the need for the government to publish tax expenditures reports with the annual budgets.
“There is a need to strengthen the knowledge base of workers within the relevant MDAs; proposal for the setting up a dedicated tax expenditure monitoring and control unit by the Ministry of Finance, and the need to establish annual milestones on tax expenditure implementation.
Other recommendations include the need for periodic assessment of tax expenditure milestones and their impact on the economy; the need to deepen public and private dialogue on the reforms of tax expenditures to find lasting solutions to the challenges.
Uzor said there would also be research on new ways of blocking leakages in the revenue generation efforts in the country, especially by adopting technology to monitor the process, while the principles of transparency and accountability should be adopted as the guiding principle in the administration of tax expenditure in the country.
“Coordination of tax administrators and stakeholders to streamline their activities so as to curb duplication of services, while MDAs must make generated and documented evidence-based data with current and live figures accessible to all.
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