President Muhammadu Buhari has warned Nigerians to stop hiding monies meant to develop the nation in foreign countries, in a bid to avoid paying tax.
The President, who is in the United Kingdom, gave the warning on Wednesday in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potential, these must stop,” he said.
“For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world. Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself.”
to this end, President Buhari approved the extension of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to June 30, 2018.
He explained that the short extension after the original March 31 date was based on the appeals of professional bodies and individual taxpayers.
The President stressed that a new date was also given, based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance would be attained, and additional revenue would accrue.
He, however, said no further extension of time would be approved after June 30, while a fresh Executive Order would be made to give legal backing to the new timeline.
President Buhari further urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join the government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularise.”
He added that the right thing may not be convenient or comfortable, “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of.”
The President also urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who fail to regularise their tax status.
VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to reposition the Nigerian economy and correct inherited underdevelopment.
The country has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the Presidency, this was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw the nation abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them.
President Buhari had in 2017 launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the VAIDS tax amnesty was first in the series of reforms aimed at transforming Nigeria’s tax system and provide sustainable predictable funding for all tiers of government.
The Presidency believes tax revenues will ensure that public infrastructure is provided, and public services are funded to improve the lives of the people.
They maintained that taxes redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less, and VAIDS is one of the windows to achieve such.
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