Tax implementation requires political will, says Tax Review Chairman

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Prof. Abiola Sanni, Chairman of the National Tax Policy (NTP) document review committee, says effective tax implementation in Nigeria requires political will.

Sanni made the observation on Wednesday in Abuja at the first stakeholders’ engagement meeting on the review of the NTP document.

He said that the objectives of the committee were to ensure reforms in the sector that would improve the economy, adding that they could only be achieved with political will.

“These are quite daunting but achievable objectives if we are willing.

“Implementation requires political will at the highest level.

“Implementation also requires the commitment of the National Assembly to give tax matters the pride of place it deserves by establishing a separate committee on taxation.

“And ensuring that tax bills are given speedy, albeit thorough review and passage as it is done in other climes.

“It requires the commitment of all stakeholders that are gathered here today in one form or the other for example to pay their taxes as at when due and engage government on judicious utilisation of public revenue.’’

The committee, he said, would revise the NTP into a “slim, simple and concise document.’’

He also said that it would be a document that would impose duties and responsibilities on all organs of government, relevant agencies and persons.

Sanni said that the committee envisioned a document that would eventually give a new lease of life to and inspire the tax regime.

This, he said, would be in terms of structure, number of taxes, administration and meeting Nigeria’s taxation objectives within the context of the peculiar Nigerian environment.

He noted that the NTP which was developed in 2012 was borne out of the need to improve the tax culture, diversify the national revenue portrait and set the tax system on the path of sustainable development.

“If the goals enunciated in the NTP had been pursued to the letter, certain fiscal changes ought to have taken place in terms of abolition of some taxes.

“Also, increment and reduction of the rates of some taxes and amendment of the plethora of provisions of various tax laws which offend basic principles of a good tax system,’’ he said.

The chairman noted that the committee was not a tax law review or tax reform committee or tax study group as purported by some.

“However, we shall collate all the useful suggestions on possible amendments of each of the laws and forward them to the appropriate authority for necessary action.’’

Sanni said that the committee which was inaugurated by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, two weeks ago and given a four weeks mandate would not be able to deliver on the said date but would submit its report on Sept. 29.

Mr Taiwo Oyedele, a member of the committee, while presenting the current NTP, said that it was set up to stimulate economic growth, address structural institutional problems in the tax system and create jobs.

He also said that the guiding principles of the Nigerian tax system were transparency and accountability, low compliance cost, flexibility, simplicity, certainty and clarity.

He, however, said that the challenges with the current tax policy were insufficient information available to taxpayers on tax compliance requirements, multiple taxation and increased demand to grow Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

He also said that obsolete laws, lack of accountability of tax revenue and lack of specific policy directions on tax matters also plagued the system.

Oyedele said that the committee would undergo a rigorous process and generate ideas that would help improve the policy.

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