The Chairman, Nigeria Economic Summit Group’s (NESG) Fiscal Policy Roundtable, Mrs. Sarah Alade, has said Nigerians would always be responsive to paying tax if there is proper education and full disclosure by the government.
Alade, who is a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said this wednesday, at the launch of the ‘Better Tax’ campaign initiative by the NESG, in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
She said the Better Tax initiative was aimed at improving tax compliance and increasing the standard of living of Nigerians.
She said: “The NESG is committed to building a globally competitive economy with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to see Nigeria achieve sustainable fiscal consolidation that would ensure that the government has the capacity to invest in its people and undertake sustainable development.
“The core concept of the roundtable was to reflect the needs and objectives that formed the basis of the robust fiscal platform focused on mobilising and growing the county’s tax revenue.”
She also said with the consistent low revenue and over-dependency on oil, it was important now than ever to speed the tax compliance initiative to avert external shocks.
Alade added: “This over-dependence on oil limits Nigeria’s ability to credibly execute its development plan and fund critical social sector programs. It also leaves Nigeria very vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks from low oil prices.
“The most recent fall from oil prices threw Nigeria into a fiscal crisis with spill over effect on the economy resulting in a recession in 2016.
“Building a strong revenue base that is balanced between the oil and non-oil sector is therefore critical to sustainably financing Nigeria’s development program and long term macroeconomic stability.”
Furthermore, she said: “The fiscal policy roundtable engaged in research and analysis of the Nigerian fiscal policy environment, the fiscal structure and the impact of tax reform on revenue mobilisation and made specific policy recommendations that would increase revenue mobilisation and free up fiscal space for spending in critical areas of development.
“The recommendations benefited from existing researches by other organisations and the results is Better Tax.”
“Bettertax is therefore a reform vehicle that accesses the issues, solutions and priorities around taxpaying in Nigeria.”
Also on citizens’ attitude to paying tax, Alade said: “Beyond the general clamour for increasing revenues and correlation with higher tax rates, there are other issues around taxpaying in Nigeria.
“There is the presumption that the Nigerian citizens are apathetic to the payment of taxes which makes the findings of the citizen perception survey crucial. The data shows low level of fiscal responsibility in tax payer education in the country. The findings also show that Nigerians are not averse to taxpaying given proper education and expenditure transparency on the allocation and application of resources by the government.”
“Better Tax was created to help the Nigerian government and citizen understand how taxes can deliver the desired socio economic development.”