The World Bank has advised Governors to adopt a digital tax collection method to reduce revenue leakage and borrowing from international financial institutions.
The country representative of World Bank in Nigeria Mr. Rachid Benmassaud gave the advise at the Nigeria Governors Forum tax event in Abuja.
Represented by the Senior public sector specialists of the Bank in Nigeria Mr. Rajul Awasthi said the outbreak of the pandemic has led to a significant reduction in revenues generations and advised Nigeria to adopt a technology that would improve internally revenues. ” The covid 19 is having an adverse effect on the global economy, so introducing a digital technology tax driven system in Nigeria would improve revenue generations.” He explained.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Mr. Ashishana Okauru observed that weak environment and low technological integration in tax administration were some the factors militating against efforts to mobilise domestic revenues in the country.
The Director-General said the lockdown from the covid 19 revealed that taxes at the state level reduced by an average of 40 percent.
According to Okauru the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that all revenue administrations need to move to a digital future.
Maintaining that digitisation does not only bring about efficiency, he added that it also provides opportunities for more people to be involved.
“Specifically for tax authorities, one big lesson that we have learnt is the criticality of internet-based business support systems and payment platforms for the automation of all back-end operational processes and payments across all revenue streams. Okauru added.
Noting that the forum have taken steps to bring together technology providers, service providers and researchers in the tax space into one network to take advantage of the innovation that is taking place.
He said that the NGF will continue to do its best to bring such collaborations together to provide opportunities for States to benefit from a global perspective and to ensure no state is left behind. “Historically many governments have taken the path of least resistance, maintaining tax systems that allow them to maximise whatever limited options are available rather than expanding into digital and more efficient tax systems.
“This each government must envisage. It would require a strong in-house IT team and an experienced legal department that will help protect the interest of all parties, including taxpayers.
“The goal for us is to help facilitate the scale up of modern, taxpayer-friendly, and technology-driven revenue administrations in all States of the federation that will be capable of providing world-class services, characterided by efficient, paperless operations, and equipped with ICT-enabled risk-based enforcement capable of optimising their revenue mobilization strategies.” Mr Okauru explained.
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Mohammad Nami Represented by the cordinating Director of the Service, Mr. Hamman Abubakar who stressed the need to look inwards on how to improve the revenue of the states to augment the shortfall of allocations from the
Federation Account and maintained that taxation all over the world has always been the most reliable and sustainable source of government revenue if well harnessed and effectively administered.
He said the reliance on oil revenue in the previous years has exposed the country to huge revenue challenges and resulted in poor budget implementation across the three tiers of Government. ” The solution for the nagging revenue challenges requires a deliberate strategic action plan to diversify and introduce a digital tax system”. He said.
The Deputy Director for Policy and Advocacy, Bill and Gates Foundation Mr. Tijani Mohammed believed that a digital technology was neccessary for efficient tax adminstration at all levels and pledged the support of the Foundation to initiate programmes that would bring Government officials to be more accountable.