When the American economist, Cirero wrote that: “man does not realise how great a revenue economy is”, he was apparently referring to the prime objective of taxation as the bulwark needed to obtain the economic expansion for stable growth and development in any given society.
Today, modernisation of tax systems in line with global best practices and policies has become a major concern of economies and governments. Tax administration is however determined by the peculiar economic environment it operates.
The strategic location and natural disposition of Rivers State makes it a destination for prospective companies and individuals who tap from its enormous economic potentials for their corporal survival.
With such unfettered altraction offered by Rivers State to myriads of corporate organisations with vested business concern, and other fortune seekers, existing infrastructures are stretched.
This places a burden and bulk of responsibilities on the government in terms of provision of basic amenities to cater for the yearning aspirations and spiraling increase in the population of the state.
However, determined to live up to its responsibilities of governance, the present administration in Rivers State led by Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has put in place pragmatic reform policies to shore up revenue generation in the state, through effective tax administration.
The new tax regime in the state is premised on the objective that the thrust of governance depends on constant redefinition of goals and vigilance of governance to tackle inefficiencies in administrative procedures.
The first step made by the government of Rivers State is this direction was the reorganisation of the management of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Services. (RIRS).
The new management of (RIRS) assumed office with specific mandate to overhaul the tax administration system in the state and put in place a more robust and compliance friendly regime.
The fundamental objective of the new tax policy is to ensure that all those who do legitimate business in Rivers State pay their taxes accordingly without extraneous influence or doubt in the verification process.
The fact been that the previous system was inundated with the activities of touts who paraded themselves as tax administrators.
Speaking with newsmen during a briefing recently, the Chairman of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Services, Chief Adoage Norteh said the Rivers State Government has introduced on-line transaction in its tax administration to check the errors and palpable defects in the manual system of operation which was previously in use.
The RIRS Chairman said the e-transaction was introduced to encourage voluntary compliance on the part of the tax-paying public, noting that the facilities have component of detecting fraud in the system.
He said: “before we came on board, tax clearance was manual and cumbersome, the process was chaotic and prone to infiltration by touts, but the Rivers State Internal Services introduced an on-line system to make transactions easier for the tax-paying public”.
He pointed out that the new system accommodates complaints and promote 24 hours services, adding that enumerators from (RIRS) were on ground to take data and ensure that income earners pay their taxes accordingly.
While the Rivers State Government is softening the ground for tax-payers in the state to leverage upon, the government has also made bold its resolve to tackle tax evasion headlong.
According to the RIRS chairman, tax defaulters in the state henceforth risk jail as the government will ensure that those with such criminal tendencies are fished out and prosecuted.
As part of its innovations to promote voluntary tax compliance in the state, RIRS has also embarked on the free registration of all eligible tax payers in the state, with strict caution against any monetary demands from anybody including staff of RIRS.
By the new policy which is expected to be fully implemented from the first quarter of 2019, companies are expected to carry out all tax clearance and registration by the end of January 2019, while deadline for individual registration will end in March 2019. The Rivers State Internal Revenue Services, (RIRS) has also made it mandatory that all tax payments must be paid to designated government accounts, while those parading as tax administrators and making cash demands should be treated as touts.
According to the RIRS Chairman, “90% of people parading as tax administrators are touts, task drive from RIRS is conducted in an organised manner, we don’t demand money at the door, all money should be paid to government account”.
Another interesting aspect of the new tax regime in Rivers State, is the nature of its service delivery. The new system is completely devoid of partisan involvement, as it is handled professionally by experts.
This absence of partisan meddlesomeness has given desired impetus to the system to strive, thereby bringing commensurate result.
The RIRS Chairman affirmed this when he declared that the new tax regime in the state has so far recorded significant improvement and checked the inefficiencies of the past.
He said the level of compliance has boosted the internally generated revenue based in the state which has robbed off positively in the development of critical infrastructures.
Although the RIRS Chairman admitted that tax has its darker side, he noted that tax remains the fundamental incentive that builds industries, create jobs and improve the general standards of living of the people.
On the perceived discontent of some people over alleged multiple taxation by the Rivers State Government, the RIRS Chairman said the Rivers State Government was not involved in multiple taxation. Rather he said that Rivers State operates one of the best tax friendly regimes by collecing task on individual earnings, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and urged the tax-paying public to reciprocate the gesture through voluntary compliance.
The Rivers State Internal Revenue Services (RIRS) also identified inadequate information as the bane of effective tax system.
It therefore blamed some of the misgivings on the part of the tax-paying public on poor information.
As part of measures of ensuring a robust tax regime in the state, the RIRS Chairman said modalities have been concluded to partner with the media to critically engage the tax-paying public through public sensitisation of its activities.
Describing the media, as critical stakeholders in the polity, he said media houses should make it part of their corporate social responsibilities to inform the public on Government policies.
Perhaps one of the major breakthrough in the tax system in Rivers State is the unnerving of the sacred cow syndrome.
Most of the virulent critics of the new tax regime in the state are those that are rooted out of their comfort zones of deliberate tax default. These include company owners who refuse to open up their records for scrutiny, and as such defraud the state government.
According to the Rivers State Internal Revenue Services (RIRS) Chairman, such a deliberate neglect of the tax system is the shortest route to economic ruins and will not be tolerated in Rivers State. It could be recalled that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had at different fora, restated the commitment of his administration towards good governance and prudent use of resources for the development of the state.
However, to keep faith with this social contract and public trust, the government also needs to leverage on an improved internally generated revenue based to complement the dwindling federal allocation.
Osinbajo Solicits Support For FG’s Housing Scheme
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged financial market experts to support the Federal Government’s efforts by developing an appropriate housing finance model that will significantly transform the housing sector on a large scale.
Osinbajo stated this on Monday when he received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the Financial Markets Dealers Quotations Group (FMDQ) led by its Chief Executive Officer, Bola Onadele; who came alongside a delegation from the Independent Petroleum Producers Group.
Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Let’s unlock Nigeria’s housing deficit, Osinbajo tasks financial market experts.’
Economic experts posit that the housing deficit in Nigeria is estimated between 18-22 million housing units, while the ratio of mortgage finance to GDP in the country is only 0.5 per cent, it is 31 per cent in South Africa and two per cent in Ghana and Botswana.
In his address, the Vice President said, “I like the point you made about the National Housing Blueprint. I very strongly believe that if we can unlock the conundrum in the sector, we can get things working.
“In our ESP, we have something on social housing but one of the critical issues there is how to market these houses, how we can provide the finance so that people can afford to buy them. These are houses that are in the order of about N2 million or N2.5 million.
“But there are still constraints on account of the fact that we just do not have anything like a feasible housing finance model, I think it is time for us to do so. It just looks like it has always escaped our capacity to find a real solution to the problem”.
Speaking on the possibility of having a model that will work, Osinbajo noted that “everyone recognises that we are in very challenging times. But I agree with you that the sheer range and vastness of our potentials make it seem almost intuitive that we are bound to succeed.
“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that given the right mix of policy initiatives, we can get these things done. And your characterization of what needs to be done like attracting capital and sustaining it is so important because ultimately, capital will go where it is best treated.
“And if we are able to attract it (because we have the market, we have everything going for us), even in the worst of times, despite the situation, you find that there is still a great deal of interest.”
Speaking earlier, Onadele said the visit was to inform the Vice President about the transformation taking place in the FMDQ and the need for government support in growing the financial market for the benefit of Nigerians and the economy.
Nigerians Spent N2.33trn On Petrol In 13 Months – NNPC
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Monday said that the total revenue generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.35tn.
Out of this amount, the corporation disclosed, Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.34tn.
A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Garba-Deen Muhammad, said the figures were contained in the May 2021 edition of the NNPC Monthly Financial and Operations Report.
The statement was titled, “NNPC records crude oil, gas sales of $219.75m in May …posts N295.72bn from sale of petroleum products”
It read in part, “Total revenues generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.345tn where Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.336 trillion.
“In terms of volume, the figure translates to a total of 2.241 billion litres of white products sold and distributed by PPMC in the month of May 2021 compared with 1.673billion litres in the month of April 2021.”
Total sales of petroleum products for the period May 2020 to May 2021 stood at 18.65 billion litres and PMS accounted for 99.69 per cent of total volume.
The corporation also recorded a total crude oil and gas export sales of $219.75m in May this year.
The $219.75m represents an increase in sales of 180.29 per cent when compared to the previous month of April this year.
The report stated that crude oil export sales contributed $181.19m (82.45 per cent) of the dollar transactions compared with $4.22m contribution in the previous month, while the export gas sales component stood at $38.56m in May 2021.
Forex: CBN To Engage Crime Agencies To Fight Fraudsters
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to engage financial crime fighting agencies to pursue fraudsters who have been deceiving the banks with fake documents to buy foreign exchange at cheap rates and sell at higher rates at the black market.
The apex bank had, few weeks ago, stopped selling forex to Bureau De Change operators and asked legitimate travellers to approach the banks to access cheap forex.
This is against the backdrop that many customers have been deceiving commercial banks with fake documents to obtain the forex at cheaper rate, and prevented genuine travellers from gaining access to forex.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had in an earlier statement, said that the BDCs defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users and had become wholesale and illegal dealers.
“They have remained renegade and so greedy, recalcitrant with abnormally high profit from these sales, while ordinary Nigerians have been left to feel the pain and therefore suffer,” the CBN boss said.
Emiefele had posited that the CBN had maintained its stand to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs.
He urged Nigerians with legitimate business to approach the banks for cheap forex.
According to him, travellers could access up to $4,000 for personal travelling allowance and $5,000 for business travelling allowance.
Findings, however, showed that commercial banks have been reporting fraudulent forex demands to the CBN.
Confirming this, the CBN governor said, “We conducted a study; one of the banks in one day sold to 52 people who said they wanted to travel. After two weeks, they went to check, 40 out of the 52 had cancelled their tickets.
“How could you have a situation where about 70 per cent or 80 per cent who went to bank to buy BTA on the reason that they want to travel, banks sold to them, they turned back and went and sold to the black market. They were asked to return it and we are going to pursue you if you are involved in these nefarious activities.
“If you go to bank with fake visa, fake passport, we have told them not to sell to you. If they sell to you mistakenly, and after two weeks, we check and find that you cancelled your ticket or your visa is fake, they will call you because you are their customer.
“They have your BVN, they have your number, they will call you to return the dollars. If you do not return it, they will place your name on their website, your BVN on their website, we will pick those details.
“We will send them to EFCC and other crime agencies, they will pursue you and you must return the dollars because you cannot acquire it illegally. That is our position”.
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