Lalong Unveils Path to Prosperity

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Yakubu Dati
An investigation by the Economic Confidential provides shocking discovery that 15 states of the federation may go bankrupt as their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR), in 2015 were far below 10 per cent of their Federation Account Allocations (FAA), in one year from June 2015 to May 2016.

Even though Plateau State falls amongst this prediction, the body language of Governor Simon Lalong inspires confidence as he stood this fateful day to unveil the Plateau State “SMART Revenue System Process” to the people of Plateau State. The occasion was the 3rd edition of the Plateau State Stakeholders’ Roundtable Engagement on Taxation that attracted captains of industry and the private sector. The unveiling signals a bold move to aggressively improve the internally generated revenue of the state through strategic thinking.

As Governor Simon Lalong is being taken through the revalidation of his tax identification number (TIN) in a new resolve to revolutionise the economic architecture of the state, Adedayo Bankole of Barnforte explains how the SMART COLLECT platform will launch the state into its prosperity.

As a former Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly and the one-time Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of Nigeria, Lalong is aware that efficient internally generated revenue is not about number of taxes allowed or provided for in law, but it is all about the nature of the system put in place to collect tax revenue. Barnforte Limited, with its array of professional prowess, technical expertise and hands-on approach, therefore fit the bill.

The excitement generated by the payments of backlog of salaries by the Governor Lalong administration of Plateau State is yet to abate. The monthly salary alert civil servants are accustomed to, on or before the 25th of every month has further endeared the average citizenry to this quiet achiever – Simon Lalong. In his simple and infectious manner, devoid of ecclesiastic exuberance, Lalong connects the payment of taxes to the regularly payments of salary. He strongly makes the point that the benefits of road construction, healthcare facilities and sustenance of peace have a correlation with payments of stipends by shoemakers, vulcanisers and traders.

According to the Governor, the capacity of the government to sustain this momentum is anchored on sustainable streams of income derived from an efficient internally generated revenue.
The time to take the bull by the horns has never been this auspicious.
In a clear departure from armchair governance, he began by putting together a crack team of economic intelligentsia to fine-tune his economic blueprint. The trio of Tamwakat Gofwei Weli, Commissioner for Finance, Cyril Tsenyil, the state’s Accountant General and Dashe Arlat Dasogot, Chairman of the Plateau State Internal Revenue Service, went into the conclave to fashion out a road map to economic recovery and sustainable growth.

As the price of crude oil in the global market fluctuates from $115 per barrel in June 2014 to less than $30 per barrel in February 2016, governments across the three tiers are experiencing fiscal crunch. In states like Plateau where the Internally Generated Revenue is low, the situation is particularly acute.
To avert this looming disaster, Governor Simon Lalong gave a marching order to his economic team and within a year, the pendulum shifted positively.

The total IGR collection of six billion naira in 2015 jumped to nine billion naira in 2016! These low hanging fruits have apparently prodded the economic team to take bolder steps. According to Dashe Dasogot, the system will not only put the service ahead in terms of ease of collection of taxes and other revenues, it “creates a seamless procedure for tax payer enumeration, registration and generation of Tax Identification Numbers (TIN). “It is a direct improvement on the elements of convenience, flexibility, and promptness for tax payers while enabling better transparency and accountability of revenues collected by the service on behalf of Plateau State Government.”

The system will therefore place Plateau on the same pedestal with other states that are already reaping from the system.
The latest report on IGR reveals that only Lagos State generated more revenue than its allocation from the Federation Account by 150 per cent and no state has up to 100 per cent of IGR to the federal largesse. The IGR of the 36 states of the federation totaled N682.67 billion in 2015 as compared to N707.85 billion in 2014, a drop of N25.18 billion, representing minus 3.56 per cent
Barnksforte Global is a multi-national company with international affiliates operating for the first time in Nigeria.

According to its CEO, Mr. Adedayo Bankole, it has integrated with core financial institutions to make for easy transaction through banks, Inter-switch, web pay and ATM machines. The company has automated the Plateau State Revenue System. Within three months of operations, Barnsforte has earmarked 500 youths for recruitment in the first phase, while more than 200 staff of Plateau State government have been trained. With a projected inflow of about four billion naira, the Lalong administration is set to write its name in gold.
Dati, was a former Commissioner for Information in Plateau State