By Seriki Adinoyi
Despite the ravaging effect of Coronavirus pandemic on the economy of Nigeria, Plateau State Internal Revenue Service (PSIRS) has said that it was determined and strategising to meet its N22bn Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) target for the year 2020.
Addressing a press conference in Jos yesterday, the chairman of PSIRS, Mr. Dashe Arlat said the Service in collaboration with the MDAs had already achieved over N7.2bn in the first quarter of 2020, adding that the stride was made through an aggressive revenue drive and an improved technology that reduced cash handling thereby preventing pilfering.
He noted that though the pandemic had posed serious challenge on achieving the N22bn target, the Service was not relenting as it was engaging sectors like telecommunication, health, transport and agriculture that are not so affected by the current lockdown with a view to maximising their potentials to achieving the target.
Arlat said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the world and Nigeria in various ways and has resulted in unforeseen and devastating health and economic consequences. Crude oil prices, the main driver of Nigeria’s economy has been on a decline since 6th March 2020 falling below 20USD per barrel by the end of March 2020 – the lowest in over two (2) decades.
“With the unprecedented drop of crude oil prices that resulted in the drop in statutory revenue allocation to the state, taxation and charging fees for services have become a ready-made alternative source of revenue.
This however has become a challenge with the attendant lockdowns across the states and country stifling economic activities in an effort to keep citizens safe from the dreaded COVID-19.”
He said prior to the pandemic, the service in its efforts to get the best out of tax payers had populated a list of 2019 compliant tax payers and defaulters across the state which will add up to the already existing list the Service has to make an updated database of all taxable individuals and organisations in the state.
He said, “As a strategy to educate and sensitise tax payers and the citizenry to illicit voluntary tax compliance, the Service through the Corporate Affairs Department had stepped up its activities by periodically issuing press releases, news commentaries and news releases to the media in 2020.
In addition, the Service has renewed old retainership contracts and entered into new ones with several prominent media houses as well as holding quarterly media briefings.”
He said the Service would more aggressively pursue all revenues in the informal sector in 2020 through strategic partnerships with various trade unions and associations at the state and local government levels to make the collection in the sector seamless for all stakeholders. “We will also embark on aggressive MLA enforcement across the state district-by-district to ensure total and comprehensive mop up of all revenues in the transport sector.”
Arlat however added that to help ease the strain on the businesses of our esteemed tax payers during the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, “the Service has extended the deadline dates for the submission of annual tax returns by our tax payers in the formal and informal sectors from 31st January and 31st March respectively till 30th June 2020. This, he said will allow them the space to recover from the shock posed by the challenging economy.”