Members of the Joint Tax Board (JTB), the ultimate body for all tax authorities in Nigeria, have been urged by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to expand their focus beyond Personal Income Tax to other tax areas.
Sanwo-Olu speaking at the opening ceremony of the 149th meeting of the JTB, held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, advised members of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) to look towards harmonising the interpretations of various tax laws to achieve real federalism.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Finance, Dr Rabiu Olowo, also emphasized the importance of the Finance Act being enacted every year in order to keep it up to date with current economic realities.
The governor stated that the crucial role that JTB members play individually and collectively in fulfilling the social contract that supports democratic government is as fundamental as the country’s very existence.
Sanwo-Olu said: “I implore the Joint Tax Board (JTB) to expand its focus beyond Personal Income Tax, to other tax types. While I acknowledge that some of the extant legal or constitutional provisions are not within the purview of the JTB to review or amend, let me say that it is very crucial that your (JTB) unwavering voice is heard in championing the process for change.
“You are one of the most important stakeholders on this journey towards a truly fair, equitable and efficient national revenue collection system.
“As part of this retreat, therefore, I urge you to deliberate and come up with practical solutions on critical revenue issues and fiscal federalism, especially as they relate to Stamp Duties, the regulation of lotteries, Federal/State tax jurisdiction, and the matter of Value Added Tax, which I am aware, is currently subjudice.
“One step in the right direction for the Country, which must be highlighted, is the yearly enactment of the Finance Act. It is aimed at reviewing and updating all existing financial/fiscal legislations of the Federal Government and aligning them with current economic realities and global best practices.
“It is my hope and expectation that the Finance Act has come to stay and that it will progressively make a considerable positive impact on the state of our national and sub-national finances, and the fiscal relations between the various tiers of government.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also disclosed that Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) since 1999 has undergone the most extensive tax administration reforms of any sub-national government in Nigeria, noting that “Lagos State has grown it’s Internal General Revenue (IGR) from N600 million monthly in 1999 to over N45 billion monthly as of today, an astounding increase of 7,400 percent.”
He said: “Lagos is by far the largest contributor to national non-oil revenues, by way of corporate income taxes, VAT (almost half of the vatable transactions take place in Lagos State), customs duties, port charges, and so on. This is to be expected from three of the sub-national entity that is the most populous in the country and is also the biggest commercial hub.
However, there is no mention of Lagos State’s participation in the later re-distribution of resources. The demographic and infrastructural constraints and demands that come with being the nation’s economic nerve centre are not taken into account in our part of the redistribution.
“This state of affairs is what compelled the State, under the visionary leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to commence a transformational reform of its internal revenue process, within the ambit of the law.”
The Chairman of the JTB, Muhammed Nami Mamman, who was represented by Mr Mohammed Abubakar, Coordinating Director of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, said the meeting’s theme, “Leveraging Technology for Effective Administration of Stamp Duties and Road Taxes in Nigeria,” was carefully chosen to explore innovative ways of administering the two critical tax types in the country.
In his welcome message, the Chairman of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Ayodele Subair, emphasized the importance of the board continuing to carry out its duties successfully for the country’s overall growth, as taxes remained the government’s principal source of revenue.
“A lot more financial resources are required to enable us to procure and maintain the long-overdue uninterrupted power and water supply, better and quality education, improved security of life and property, better roads and drainage networks and other basic amenities the citizens yearn for,” he said.