• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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BusinessDay

FG working with states to cut number of taxes— Oyedele

The Federal Government, through the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, is working with state governors to cut the number of existing taxes in Nigeria, Taiwo Oyedele, chairman of the committee, has said.

Oyedele also hinted at plans to train and incorporate street boys, popularly known in the local parlance as ‘agberos’, into the nation’s tax collection system.

He stated this while appearing on the Sunrise Daily programme of Channel Television, monitored by BusinessDay. According to him, neither the state nor local government benefit from the taxes collected by ‘agberos’, even as he decried the pain that the activities of agberos inflict on small businesses.

Oyelede spoke on the implementation of the policies developed by the committee, saying, “Some of our policies will be, for example, asking state and local governments to suspend nuisance taxes that create problems, with very little revenue to show for it. We’re already meeting with the governors on this. In some cases, we have set up small committees to discuss with their team; so, we’re already working on that.

He noted that the government would soon begin implementing the committee’s recommendation which, according to him, would impact the people, particularly small businesses and poor people.

“Where we are today, the state is not benefitting, the local government is not befitting and people are suffering; they’re going through pain. What we are proposing is different and benefits everyone. Imagine you have only just one tax, our view is that there should be only one tax at the local government level, so you know how much you need to pay and you can pay by instalments or electronically. It shouldn’t be harder to pay tax than it is to buy pizza.

“So, our view is that the local government can collect more than 10 times what they are collecting now, by following the recommendations that we’re giving them. Also, as a sweetener, we’re looking for sources where we can find at least N50 billion which we can then use to compensate them for suspending the tax we ask them to suspend.

“Because at the end of the day, if you stop the livelihood of anyone, whether legitimately or not, you can create a crisis or become difficult to manage. But once you bring everybody in, maybe we need to train those area boys and touts, give them uniforms, and then they’ll be the ones to ask you to show the evidence on your phone right? And then they get paid a decent salary. And, if we give them the skills, some of them will on their move on from that job to something else.”

Speaking further, the chairman decried the administrative bottlenecks involved in the import and exportation of goods in the country, stating that efforts were ongoing to create an institution that would address such bottlenecks.

According to him, promoting export and import was a major area for the committee, as it impacted the economy and international trade.

“We’ve been speaking to the players, from Customs to the exporters and importers, and there are lots of issues. Many of those issues are things that are within our control as a country. If you want to export anything out of Nigeria, some of them say you need about 23 different regulators with permits or licences and nobody is asking where you’re going and that process can take you somewhere between two to three months.

“Imagine if you’re exporting perishable goods. If you import as well, it is just as complicated. It takes a lot, a lot of processes and in fact, if you import a mobile phone and somebody at Customs says well, what you just imported now is satellite equipment. You’re stuck with them. You have to pay the money they want you to pay or you let go of those products.

“So, we’re also planning to create an institution that will intervene in that process to get you out of it. We also have recommendations to promote exporting services and creativity because it’s easier for you to export services. We’re looking at those areas, focusing on not just goods or services and intellectual property export, and simplifying the process of importing, including the single window for the Customs,” he said.