*Says 56m economically active citizens not tax-compliant
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has declared that regular payment of taxes by Nigerians was fundamental to the growth and development of the country.
She pointed out that predictable tax revenue inflow would lead to more investment by the federal and state governments in infrastructure, job as well as wealth creation across the country.
The minister spoke in Enugu at the sensitisation programme on the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) hosted by the Enugu State Government, a statement issued by her media aide, Mr. Oluylnka Akintunde, said.
The VAIDS programme was attended by the Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Edward Uchenna Ubosi; Enugu State Commissioner of Finance, Hon. Eucharia Uche Offor, members of the State Executive Council, members of the Enugu State House of Assembly, and traditional rulers, among others.
The minister remarked that Nigeria had a poor scorecard in tax payment, saying that only 14 million people pay tax out of about 70 million economically active people.
Adeosun said, â€œPayment of taxes is a fundamental requirement for our growth story. Nigeria has a very poor scorecard in tax payment. When oil came, we abandoned the old systems of tax collection that provided most of our infrastructure since colonial days.
â€œCurrently, we have just 14 million tax payers out of 70 million who are economically active. So, many people who should be paying are not paying anything. It is the development of taxes that will help the States and the Federal Government to achieve their true potentials.â€
She explained that payment of taxes had become imperative to avoid the recent collapse in oil prices and the resultant recession.
The minister assured that the federal government would avoid the boom and bust cycles by aligning with nations that have predictable revenues in order to ensure progressive improvements in the quality of life for the citizens.
She recalled that after years of neglect, the Federal Government has revived Federal Road projects including the 9thMile – Ngwo to Milken Hill to New Market.
â€œIndeed, the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration has completely transformed road expenditure. In 2015, the figure was N19 billion for the whole nation, in 2016 we increased it to N220 billion and we plan to do much more.
â€œThis government has recognised that infrastructure is the key to creating jobs, growth and wealth. We have already released N1.2 trillion in capital so far for the 2017 Budget, which commenced in June 2017 and most of this was applied to roads, bridges, rail, power, our airports and other key infrastructural project,â€ she said.
In his remarks, the Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Finance for their â€œresourcefulness and dynamismâ€ in the establishment of VAIDS.
He enjoined all tax payers to take advantage of the VAIDS to regularise their tax liability.