Fowler: Nigeria Needs Taxes to Develop


FG to train professionals on VAIDS implementation
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja and Jonathan Eze in Lagos

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, has called on Nigerians to fulfill their obligation to the country by paying their taxes, saying without taxes, Nigeria cannot develop.

Speaking on Arise News Network, a THISDAY sister company, yesterday, he said when Nigerians go abroad, they pay taxes for consumables, adding that “in foreign countries, they pay what is required as tax at the point of departure, and the government of that country claims their VAT, so let’s do the same here too.

Fowler reiterated that the current Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by acting President Yemi Osibanjo was not designed to put pressure on Nigeria.
He said the current federal government tax drive presents Nigerians with the window of opportunity to right the wrong in the area of tax payment.

“This country requires those taxes to develop too. Nobody will develop Nigeria except we start developing it”.
Fowler noted that the nation was harping on taxation now because government in the past did not see any need for it because of the discovery of oil in commercial quantities and the income it had generated, but since the oil price had crashed, there was an urgent need for the citizens to pay taxes.

Speaking on the newly introduced Voluntary Asset Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), the FIRS boss said it offers opportunities for all adults, be it in private business or corporate entities, to come forward and declare the amount of profit they had earned and the assets they have acquired and pay the commensurate taxes.
According to him, the initiative will free individuals or entities from paying penalties, or face prosecution, making them good citizens.

He added that those who have been in business, even for years, without making any profit were not expected to pay taxes, concluding that if Nigerians in their millions decided to pay their taxes, the government would have enough money to execute its budget and embark on significant projects of national importance.

According to him, though we have our records, we need to see what Nigerians declare their earnings and assets.
“For example, if you declare that you own a car of N10 million, and a house worth N50 million, your clothes, including your suit, watch and tie maybe worth a million naira and you declare that you earn N2 million year, the question would be if you earn such amount yearly, how can you you afford the house, the car, the expensive suit and the wrist watch?
“These are the questions we are asking. So we believe quite frankly that Nigerians can be law abiding,” he said.

Meanwhile, the federal government has declared that it is committed to providing free training to accountants, lawyers, wealth managers, stockbrokers and other professional advisers to the public to support the successful implementation of the recently-launched Vncome Declaration Scheme (VAIDS.
The free training is aimed at equipping them to give advice to their clients for participation on the scheme.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in a message to the Conference of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers held in Abuja, said that professional advisers were critical to the success of the scheme due to their role in financial management.

In the message with the theme: ‘Transiting from Recession to a Global Economic Power,’ she said: “Those who manage wealth and undertake transactions on behalf of their clients are best placed to advise them to take advantage of the VAIDS  offer by declaring their assets and income honestly.”
Adeosun enjoined stockbrokers to join hands with the federal government in improving tax-payer education and compliance, crediting their side customer network as a key advantage.

A statement issued by the Director (Information), Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta, said the minister specifically commended stockbrokers for their role in the recently launched Federal Government Savings Bonds, which relied on their distribution network.
“The success of this product shows that you continue to have a wide reach and therefore must partner with government,” the minister noted.

She also commended the role of the stock brokers in the recent successful Eurobond and Diaspora Bond issuances, adding that despite these debt issuances, Government is focussed on changing its financing mix and on raising more revenue.
Nigeria, she added,  is on the road to recovery and emphasised the role of investments in infrastructure to enhance productivity and competitiveness.

Citing the N1.2 trillion already released for capital projects under the  2016 budget, Adeosun assured that much more could be done if every citizen paid the correct taxes. “It would be like thinking the unthinkable; it is time that Nigerians said Nigeria First.”