Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) may come up with fresh mechanism for proper accounting of government revenue in line with global best practices.
The current practice which allows exclusion of certain category of earned revenue, in the thinking of FIRS does not give fair and true reflection of country’s Tax-to-GDP ratio.
Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami, dropped hint on the new paradigm shift yesterday in Abuja at the first national symposium on taxation and the challenges of external shocks: lessons and policy options for Nigeria’, organised by FIRS in collaboration with Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS).
The Forum which had government’s top dignitaries such as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr. Boss Mustapha, Minister of finance, budget and national planning Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and her colleague Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, in attendance had also a former FIRS Chairman, Mrs. Omoigui- Okauru Ifueko as guest speaker. Etsu of Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, was royal father of the day.
Speaking at the event, Nami said the new policy would accurately capture government’s revenue correctly.
He said: “In order to state government revenue correctly and ensure that all government revenue is included in the fiscal accounts and annual statistics, FIRS will through the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, ensure that all government revenue is included in the accounting for taxes generated, amounts invested by taxpayers in our road infrastructure as a result of executive order 007.
“Tax waivers granted pioneer companies, import and exercise duties waived through the operations of the Nigeria Customs and all other revenues generated by MDAs on behalf of the Federal, State and Local governments in Nigeria.
“The measures, when implemented, will align Nigeria with global best practice in reporting public finance and will ensure a more transparent and more accurate picture of the country’s Tax-to-GDP ratio.” Recall that Nigeria, which is an overly oil revenue dependent nation, has put in place a road map for diversifying its economy from oil to non oil sector revenue driving largely by taxation.
Nami said for the country to achieve meaningful and sustainable growth in tax revenue, and minimise its dependence on oil revenue calls for continuous reform of operations and processes of human capital development, adoption of technology, and the tax laws.
He said: “These key areas have remained paramount to the current Board and Management of the Service. And the achievements we have recorded in improving and sustaining the revenue growth since 2020 to date irrespective of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 can be attributed to these reform initiatives.”
To achieve and sustain the new objectives FIRS is proposing, he called for more collaboration among the tiers of government to enhance the certainty of the tax system and engender taxpayer confidence and compliance. He added:
“Consequently, we will continue to provide leadership to the states through the Joint Tax Board (JTB) to reposition tax administration in Nigeria. As a key stakeholder in this symposium, the FIRS will consider the ideas and strategies recommended at this programme and incorporate them in our corporate plan from 2022 and beyond”, he added.
The guest speaker, Mrs. Mrs. Omoigui- Okauru Ifueko, said shocks, whether external or internal should be expected while strategies are put in place to contain them. The former FIRS boss whose tenure at the helm of affairs FIRS began tax reform process emphasized diversification of revenue by three-tiers of government.
She added: “We have to diversify our revenue base. For states, you can’t depend on FAAC allocation. For FIRS, you can’t depend on multinationals’ revenue. “We need to constantly look at ways to diversify our revenue portfolio. At 6 percent tax revenue to GDP, it’s very low. We have to address the issue.”