By Ugo Aliogo
Nigeria’s taxpayers roll is set to hit 33 million, Chairman, Chairman of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) and Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, said at the 142nd meeting of the JTB in Bauchi State yesterday.
According to Fowler, the ongoing database consolidation of the JTB, an initiative being executed in collaboration with the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), a national taxpayer database with the data of well over 33 million individual taxpayers across the country is now a reality. He stated that having this consolidated database, which is clean and credible, opens the door to immense opportunities for the tax administrator at all levels.
“As we build on this data, we shall also be ensuring that the technological infrastructure that will facilitate the seamless exchange of data across levels of competent authorities are present. This entails significant investment in Information Technology via the provision of required infrastructure, equipment and as capacity building for personnel that will drive the processes,” he said.
The JTB Chairman expressed optimism that such investment in infrastructure will foster efficiency in taxpayer management and will align with the country being a signatory to the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA), which will trigger the Automatic Exchange of Information among Treaty Partners and two other initiatives of the Federal Government: the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), and the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS).
Fowler also celebrated the marked increase in revenue generation in Bauchi State, where the governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, launched payment of taxes through Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) and through its website. The new e-payment system is being powered by Interswitch. The JTB Chairman disclosed that the Internally Generated Revenue of the state has risen from about N4 billion to over N7 billion monthly.
“You may wish to note that Bauchi State is actually one of the success stories when matters of IGR are discussed, both at the regional and at the national levels. Your Excellency may wish to note a few of the impressive statistics on IGR collection of Bauchi State. Computation of IGR collection for Bauchi State for the nine-month period January to September 2018 hit N7.04 billion. This figure has already outperformed the full year 2017 IGR figure of N4.36 billion with a percentage margin of 61.2 per cent.
“Average quarterly growth rates for Bauchi as at Q3 2018 is 10.01%, which places it among the top ten highest average quarterly growth rates nationwide for the period. At the regional level, Bauchi State is actually setting a healthy pace for the region as her 9-month collection in 2018 is just over 26 per cent of the entire IGR collected by the six states within the region,” Fowler said.
He stated that the JTB seeks to play an important role in an “emerging global community where boundaries have moved beyond physical geographic expressions and where financial flows have become seamless and electronic, making it increasingly challenging for Governments to collect the taxes that are due them”.
Chairman of the Bauchi State Internal Revenue Service, Alhaji Jibrin Jibo, said the state was able to improve its revenue collection as it has automated collection platforms, streamlined activities with other revenue generating agencies, and plugged revenue leakages.
Governor Abubakar called state governors to ensure automation of their revenue authorities in order to improve Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
“The place of tax as the major thrust of economic growth is unquestionable since time immemorial. It is the first principle that defines an organised society. It is therefore disheartening that at this age where the cost of running government and provision of services is huge as a result of population growth, that some businesses and individuals still evades taxes. It is largely a question of patriotism. To build the Nigeria of our dream we must as citizens and as government show a great deal of patriotism in the discharge of our civic responsibilities.
Ayo Tanimowo, the Interswitch representative at the event, explained that Bauchi engaged Interswitch and Inteliworx, to provide a tax management solution for taxpayer assessment, services rendition and report generation.