A group known as the Association of Concerned Citizens of Nigeria on Revenue and Economy (ACCNRE) has called on the House of Representatives to expedite action on the passage of the National Inspector-General for Tax Crimes Commission Bill, 2019 to instill efficiency in the tax system.
The bill sponsored by Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) is titled “the National Inspector-General for Tax Crimes Commission to promote economic efficiency and effectiveness on administering the nation’s tax system, detect and deter fraud and abuse in taxation programme and operations and to protect tax payer’s rights and for related matters, 2019”.
Philip Orji, ACCNRE chairman while calling for the prompt passage of the bill in Abuja at the weekend, lamented that since the former military president, Ibrahim Babangida created the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); the civilian administrations have not made conscious efforts to build on its successes.
He said: “Since the inception of democracy in 1999, our legislature has not taken our taxation seriously. If General Ibrahim Babangida as a military president can modify our taxation system then, to suit the global trend, creating FIRS and VAT all in 1992, what stops our legislature to look at what other countries of the world are doing to sustain their economy through taxation, by upgrading what IBB put in place?
According to him, “The FIRS and VAT is a modern methodology of taxation. But if you plant a tree and you do not water it, the tree will surely die. The world is about innovation that will mitigate the global modern technology”
He advised that “our leaders should not play politics in the taxation business, hence the National Assembly must work as a team to build a well-structured taxation system that will mitigate the global best practice of taxation”. Orji also urged the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) led by Ayuba Wabba to join the crusade for the passage of the bill, stressing that workers stand to benefit more with a restructured taxation system.
“The essence of the bill is for the National Assembly to create Government Accountability Office (GAO) that will be saddled with the responsibility of general oversight of our tax agencies, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and National Inspector General for Tax Crime Commission (NIGTCC) if enacted.
“The reason to create the GAO is for it to work with the legislature so that the public’s confidence in government will be restored. I want to remind you also that our infrastructure did not encourage voluntary compliance of taxpayers”, he stated. The ACCNRE chairman said the taxpayer has not been carried along by the Nigerian government and the country does not have a proper tax database, adding that the only way Nigeria can get her tax system right is to get taxation working.