Ifueko Omoigui Okauru
Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), the umbrella body of tax professionals in the country, has renewed its call on state governments to expedite action towards granting autonomy for states' revenue agencies.
The Registrar of the institute, Mr. Abayomi Jayeoba, made the call while reviewing the performance of the 2012 budgets of the various state governments vis-à-vis their internally generated revenue in Lagos recently.
He asked state governors not to lose sight of the importance of granting autonomy to state revenue agencies going forward.
“As governors get busy with the onerous task of state building, it is becoming imperative for them to be mindful of the present economic realities and focus more on redefining internal revenue drive by improving the efficiency of revenue collection and administration in their jurisdictions,” he said.
He reported that only 5 out of 36 states in the federation had heeded the call of the institute on the need to grant autonomy to states’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in spite of the fact that autonomous revenue agencies out-performs their counterparts who were yet to be granted autonomy.
The institute’s boss admonished the states to look inwards for alternative sources of funding to diversify their economy and rely less on monthly allocations from the central government.
He also recalled that the autonomous Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) generated over N18 billion monthly, which accounted for about 70 per cent of the state’s monthly income receipts.
Jayeoba reasoned that “since the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is autonomous, it is just a matter of time for non-autonomous States to follow suit.”
He noted CITN had been appealing to state governors to see the merits of autonomy for their revenue agencies including setting targets and having inspiration to attain them, better taxpayers’ enlightenment programme, simpler assessment and payment procedures.
Also, autonomous revenue agencies make possible comprehensive and reliable database, automation of processes, better remuneration, training and motivation of staff, accountability, foolproof tax clearance certification as well as improved relationship between the government and taxpayers and professionally competent chartered tax practitioners in decision making positions.