Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Monday launched a Public Finance Database that will allow citizens to easily filter and analyse states’ fiscal data and information.
The launch of the first reference database for state-level public finance data was done at the 8th NGF IGR Peer Learning Event in Abuja and reiterates the Forum’s commitment to fiscal transparency and accountability as well as the resolve to strengthen governance in the country.
Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman NGF in his speech said the database is to understand the need to build greater accountability, especially showing citizens the linkage between their taxes and service delivery.
Fayemi who was represented by Abdullahi Sule, Nasarawa State Governor informed that this will require ending the proliferation of taxpayer identification numbers and databases and call for harmonisation, leveraging a unique identification number as is global best practice.
The NGF chairman affirmed that for them to achieve this, information sharing between jurisdictions must be seamless, not only between the tiers of government but also inter and intra-state.
According to him, the Forum is working with revenue services and other MDAs to expand the tax-for-service initiatives in rewarding compliance while ensuring citizens know where they expend their taxes annually.
Fayemi said their renewed effort must take into consideration the emerging dynamics surrounding private income in Nigeria today including the devaluation effect of the rising inflation rate, structural transition in employment, business dealings and investments, driven by the evolution of technology.
He said beyond the laws and regulations they have passed, the forum must occasionally by policy respond to the fast-changing tax environment to stay ahead of evasion and avoidance tactics.
Fayemi pointed out that they recognise the need to support internal revenue services and continue to empower them with the necessary political support and financial resources required for them to execute their mandate effectively.
” For one, the event today beckons a nostalgic feeling, as it reminds me of a collective decision we took as governors in 2019 to be deliberate with reforming our tax administrations to become more efficient and effective. Consensus reforms were focused on ending multiple taxation; professionalising and modernising our revenue services; embracing a taxpayer-centric culture that eases taxpayer compliance and strengthens the existing social contract.
“This pact birthed the State Action Plan for Revenue Generation (SAPRG), whose implementation progress we will be examining today with the objective of underscoring what has worked and what we need to do better to foster an enabling tax environment and administration that allows us to optimise our revenue potential as subnationals.
“Our pursuit to do things differently has benefitted from the relentless efforts of our state officials, technical assistance programmes within our Secretariat and partners’ support.
“Your collaboration and support have ensured we stay the course of implementation, delivering far reaching reforms, which have yielded the results we see today.
“We have seen total IGR of States grow from NGN1.31 trillion in 2019 to NGN1.67 trillion in 2021 and the share of IGR (as % of total recurrent revenue) grow from 31% in 2019 to 35% in 2021.
“While this is good progress, we must not lose sight of the need to sustain and advance the momentum of reforms, considering the decline in FAAC receipts.
“I would like to encourage the Joint Tax Board (JTB) in its pursuit for a plausible solution to this anomaly.
On strengthening public legitimacy for tax collection, we have improved the transparency not just around tax revenues but the entire treasury.
“I am optimistic about the tax reform journey and believe even within the time some of us have left, we can achieve a lot. As is often said, government is a continuum, so I trust those after us to continue in these reforms and many more, as may be necessary in guaranteeing the fiscal sustainability of our states” he said