•Says new technology will expand taxation base
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, has called on Nigerians to call on government at all levels to account for the utilisation of allocated revenues from the federation.
Oyedele, spoke in reaction to the N966.11 billion shared among the federal, states and local governments from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) on Wednesday.
The amount which was the highest so far to be shared among the three tiers of government was attributed to the removal of fuel subsidy.
Speaking on Arise News Night programme on Wednesday, the chairman of the presidential committee said Nigerians must change the habit of applauding governors for commissioning projects but begin to questions the rationale for the project, its cost as well as quality of the work.
“Nigerians must follow the money”, he said, “we must demand accountability, we must ask what amount is being shared to the states and how it is being spent,” he added.
According to him politicians would pay more attention to governance when more and more people show interest in how they are being governed or how their taxes are being utilized.
Speaking on the target of his committee to raise Tax-to-GDP ratio to 18 per cent in the next 12 months, Oyedele, who admitted that the task was not an easy one, expressed conviction that it could be done within a three year period, adding that the fund would come from efforts by the committee to close huge gap in the collection of taxes in the country.
He observed that if the local governments that are assigned 21 levies and taxes and yet remained poor and restricted to only one such as property tax, they would collect 10 times of what they are collecting today.
Similarly, Oyedele noted that to increase revenue, there must be conscious efforts to shift the burden of tax compliance which according to him, “have been disproportionate on the poorest pool”, adding that a study in 2016 showed that rich people don’t pay the Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
“We are going to start by redesigning it and use a lot of tech and intelligence to collect tax”, he said, pointing out that countries that are doing well use data to collect taxes.
“And we have the technology in Nigeria as of today. So anybody that has a mobile phone is already on the system.
“The data and intelligence you collect can help you administer social conditional transfer effectively “, he said, adding that through ones behavior on his or her phone, they can easily tell if that person was poor or not.
Oyedele stated that the work of the committee goes beyond raising revenue but include economic management, planning and dealing with age long issues confronting the country.