• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Govt urged to be more transparent in tax collection, revenue allocation

Govt urged to be more transparent in tax collection, revenue allocation

The government has been urged to maintain transparency in tax collection and the allocation of revenue generated regularly to foster voluntary compliance.

Managing Partner/CEO Okwudili Ijezie & Co, a chartered accountants firm, Blakey Ijezie, who made the appeal at the 4th edition of BLAKEY’s national tax conference in Lagos, also attributed poor tax paying culture in Nigeria to lack of transparency and accountability on the part of government.

Describing tax as a compulsory levy designed to generate revenue to fund public expenditure including infrastructure, Ijezie, the convener of the conference, which came under the theme: ‘Tax transparency and accountability of tax revenues in Nigeria,’ said: “If our taxes are for government functionaries feeding fat, how can people be encouraged to pay taxes?

“Our government at all tiers need to be perpetually engaged to reduce their profligacy and face utilisation of tax revenues for the public good.’’

Stating that Nigeria is not where it’s supposed to be on tax GDP ratio, Ijezie also stressed the need for Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms to complete its assignment, adding that the silence of the Committee is getting too loud.

“We are still waiting for the Taiwo Oyedele Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy & Tax Reforms to complete its assignment. The silence of the Committee is getting too loud,’’ he said.

While describing absence of transparency in contract award through competitive bidding as a gross violation of Public Procurement Act of 2007, he called on the present administration to put on hold further action on the Lagos- Calabar Coastal Highway until the real cost of the project is addressed.

His words: “Tinubu government should put on hold further action on Lagos-Calabar Coastal road until all basic questions are answered and the issue of the real cost of the project is addressed; for me, anything short of this will amount to defrauding Nigerians through dubious contracts.
“Government must be transparent and accountable in all their dealings. We must know how they are spending taxpayers’ money.’’

Speaking on ‘Understanding transparency in public expenditure’, a public finance expert, Tunji Adeniyi, defined fiscal transparency as a means of making all relevant information on public expenditure available to all stakeholders and the general public.”

“Such effort”, he said, “facilitates awareness, prioritisation, participation, and the assessment of relative costs and benefits.”

For him, understanding transparency in public expenditure enables impact assessment of government expenditure on the public policy objectives of efficiency, equity and democratic accountability.

Enumerating barriers to transparency in public expenditure, Adeniyi said they include low public understanding of budgeting and national and sub-national accounts.

Joe Nwakwue of Zera Advisory Consulting who spoke on ‘Nigeria’s natural gas: taxation, investments and gas-based industrialisation’, observed that society’s progress is intrinsically related to energy, adding that access to safe, reliable and affordable energy is a critical enabler of higher living standards, including a longer and healthier life.

He also noted that a significant portion of the global population still faces serious challenges in accessing energy on a daily basis which according to him is negatively impacting health and preventing many from fully realising their potential.

“The challenges become even greater considering that by 2040 the global population is projected to grow to 9.2 billion from 7.5 billion today,’’ he said.

He further said: “Improving access to energy and a growing global economy will lead to better economic opportunities, higher incomes and improved living conditions for many.

“As countries move up the human development index, the improving living conditions standards are associated with increased energy use.

“Today, almost 50 percent of the global population live in countries that rank low to medium on the UN’s human development index. Advancing development for nearly half the world’s population creates the potential for significant global energy growth,’’ Nwakwue added.