|Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala|
The minister made the submission recently in Lagos at the Stakeholders Engagement Forum organised by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to engage key business leaders, top government functionaries and corporate chieftains on the Service’s Capacity Enhance Programme, (CEP).
A statement by the Head, Communications and Liaison Department of the Service, Wahab Gbadamosi, quoted the minister as saying that the GDP rebasing exercise had demonstrated that the Nigerian economy is much more diversified than earlier assumed, explained that it also created the opportunity for improved revenue earnings as it challenges the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria to do better by exploring non-oil revenue sources for improved collection.
She said: “What the rebasing has done is to demonstrate that Nigeria has much more diversified economy than we thought, services is now 51 per cent, up from 26 percent. Agric is now 33 percent from 22 per cent. The movie sector that was 0.7 per cent 10 years ago is now 1.2 percent. What I’m saying is that the Nigerian economy is evolving in terms of services.
“Services is now one quarter of the GDP. The point we are making is that the rebasing has demonstrated the potential in tax in a diversified economy base, though Nigeria is not doing as good as Kenya and South Africa in tax to GDP ratio.’’
In his remarks at the forum, the Acting Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Alhaji Kabir Mashi, said the Service would be compelled to invoke relevant laws against taxpayers that refused to voluntarily fulfill their tax obligations. He explained that the revenues being collected by Government from the people served as a means through which they could participate in governance and comply with tax laws in demonstration of good corporate citizenship.
Mashi appealed to those who do not comply with the tax laws or have defaulted in their tax obligations to fulfill their obligations. He hinted that the Service, in its efforts to fulfil its statutory mandate, would not hesitate to invoke its powers under the laws in sanctioning tax defaulters where appropriate.
The FIRS boss however commended taxpayers for their efforts and contributions to the nation`s development over the years through payment of their taxes and solicited for their continued cooperation and support. Mashi said: “We are constantly seeking to improve upon our performance and we ask that you buy in to our initiatives as we roll them out. As we implement these initiatives, we shall interact with you more closely and hope that you see yourselves as partners in national development”.
The seasoned Tax Administrator said that the Capacity Enhancement Programme (CEP) led by McKinsey and Company was among other initiatives being embarked upon to improve performance and make Nigerian economy one of the largest in the world.
The FIRS’ boss listed some of the benefits of the initiatives as improvement in the areas of audits, arrears and debt enforcement, tax exemptions, evasion (high net worth transactions and rentals), registration, filing and improved communication as a means of enhancing compliance. Mashi said the implementation of the innovative strategy was already impacting positively on the Service’s operational efficiency with results to show for it. (Source - National Mirror)