By; KENNETH ORUSI, Asaba
If resources from tax revenue are properly harnessed, Delta State could sustain itself, the State Coordinator Tax Justice and Good Governance, Mrs Bridget Anyafulu, has said.
Anyafulu stated this on Thursday while presenting a report on “Taxation in the Informal Sector in Delta State,’’ at a meeting of the Platform in Asaba.
According to the coordinator, the report was a research work in 2017 by the International Centre for Women Empowerment and Child Development (ICWECD), a Non-Governmental Organisation in the state sponsored by OXFAM.
She said that other countries in the world lived on tax revenue, while Nigeria lived on oil earnings, adding that the situation needed an urgent change.
Anyafulu explained that Nigeria should not rely totally on oil as it could come to an end some day, urging the country to follow the changing global trends.
“Tax revenue drives other economies in the world, while the Nigerian economy has continued to depend on revenues from oil.
“In 2015, this current administration came in with lot of challenges arising from recession due to a fall in oil price in the international market.
“Other countries in the world live on tax revenue but we live on oil revenue; this has to change because oil will go some day, and we must follow the world.
“The Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration looks into accountability and the only reason the people can demand for accountability is when they have done their part by paying their taxes,’’ she said.
Anyafulu called for transparency among the people and charged all stakeholders to create the needed awareness to sensitise those in the informal sector to pay their taxes and get value for their money.
“The platform is for organisations, individuals and groups interested in engaging issues related to tax justice and promoting a fair, just, equitable and progressive tax regime in Nigeria.
“We intend for all parties to work together, involve all relevant stakeholders through information sharing and pulling available resources to undertake some reforms in the tax system in Nigeria, particularly in the informal sector.
“Our objective is to facilitate the development of an effective legal and policy regime that promotes a fair, progressive and transparent tax system and administration in Nigeria.
“It is also necessary to undertake research and evidence-based campaign against all forms of harmful tax practices that undermine government ability to generate maximum tax revenue to fund development, among others.
She said that the era of engaging tax contractors were over, adding that the state Board of Internal Revenue should train and equip its staff to take up their responsibilities for fairness, equity and accountability in tax collections.
On his part, Mr Paul Itawansa, Director of Operations, State Board of Internal Revenue, said that the platform would enable the informal sector become properly captured into the tax system, to ensure equity and fairness.
He noted that with adequate information and a workable system, everybody would be carried along without being embarrassed in the process of tax collation because in the new reform tax law, all adults must pay tax.
Mr Martin Bolum, State Vice Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), pledged the unions’ commitment to driving the tax system in the state, adding that the union was in the forefront of enforcing tax payment in the state in 2015.
“This administration has given a lot of benefits to tax payers, particularly for those in the informal sector.
“The governor has captured these groups in the health insurance scheme and with massive roads construction in all the nooks and crannies of the state, it is also of benefit to the tax payers,’’ he said.
Mr Chuks Iku, Consultant, State Board of Internal Revenue, said the benefits in payment of taxes were enormous, adding that Delta Government had maintained peace and security which has enabled the people to do their businesses without fear.
He said that work on documentation of the operators in the informal sector was on, adding that the data would be utilised for proper tax assessment in the state.
“Okowa’s administration has built markets and provided other facilities from the revenue available to it and if it gets more, it will do more.
“We are currently collecting data on the informal sector and the information collected is submitted to the state contributory health commission for the enrollees to access healthcare.
“But the determination of what the informal sector owns remains a challenge, unlike the formal sector which is being taxed appropriately.
A representative of the Market Women, Mrs Grace Mragbozo, called on government to check the issues of double taxation and the menace of “Development Levies’’ among other challenges being faced by traders and women.
She pledged the resolve of the traders to key into a new tax regime in the state that would ensure transparency, fairness and equity.