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Expand your focus, Sanwo-Olu charges Joint Tax Board

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, charges Joint Tax Board, apex body for all tax authorities in Nigeria, to expand its focus beyond Personal Income Tax to other tax areas.

By Florence Onuegbu

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has charged the Joint Tax Board, the apex body for all tax authorities in Nigeria, to expand its focus beyond Personal Income Tax to other tax areas.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Rabiu Olowo, said this at the opening ceremony of the 149th meeting of the Joint Tax Board (JTB), on Monday in Victoria Island.

He urged the JTB to look towards harmonising the interpretations of the various tax laws to achieve true federalism.

According to him, there is the need for the yearly enactment of the Finance Act, to align it with current economic realities.

He said the critical role that members of JTB played individually and collectively in the fulfillment of the social contract that underpinned democratic governance was as important as the existence of the country itself.

“I implore the Joint Tax Board (JTB) to expand its focus beyond Personal Income Tax, to other tax types.

“While I acknowledge that some of the extant legal or constitutional provisions are not within the purview of the JTB to review or amend, let me say that it is very crucial that your (JTB) unwavering voice is heard in championing the process for change.

“You are one of the most important stakeholders on this journey towards a truly fair, equitable and efficient national revenue collection system.

“As part of this retreat, therefore, I urge you to deliberate and come up with practical solutions on critical revenue issues and fiscal federalism,” the governor said.

He said that the Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) since 1999 had undergone the most extensive tax administration reforms of any sub-national government in Nigeria.

According to him, Lagos State has grown its Internal General Revenue (IGR) from N600 million monthly in 1999 to over N45 billion monthly as at Dec. 2021, an astounding increase of 7,400 per cent.

He said that Lagos was by far the largest contributor to national non-oil revenues, by way of corporate income taxes, VAT (almost half of the vatable transactions take place in Lagos State), customs duties, port charges, and so on.

“However, in the subsequent re-distribution of resources, we do not see any reflection of the contribution of Lagos State.

“Our share in this redistribution fails to take into account the demographic and infrastructural burdens and pressures that accompany being the economic nerve centre of the nation.

“This state of affairs is what compelled the State, under the visionary leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to commence a transformational reform of its internal revenue process, within the ambit of the law,” Sanwo-Olu said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of JTB, Mr Muhammed Mamman, said the theme of the meeting, ‘Leveraging Technology for Effective Administration of Stamp Duties and Road Taxes in Nigeria’, was carefully chosen to explore innovative ways of administering the two critical tax types in the country.

Mamman was represented by the Coordinating Director of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Mohammed Abubakar.

In his welcome address, the Chairman of LIRS, Mr Ayodele Subair, harped on the need for the board to continue to carry out its duties effectively for the overall development of the country.

Subair said that taxation remained the main source of revenue for the government.

“A lot more financial resources are required to enable us to procure and maintain the long-overdue uninterrupted power and water supply, better and quality education, improved security of life and property, better roads and drainage networks and other basic amenities the citizens yearn for,” he said. (NAN)(