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The launch of Tunde Ogunsakin ‘s book, A Review of Effective Tax Regime in Nigeria, has prompted many in Nigeria to suggest a rejig of the tax system in Nigeria.
Nigeria has one of the least tax-GDP ratios, 6 percent, in the world.
America has one of the highest, 39 percent.
Many of the dignitaries that spoke at the book lauch October 14 agreed that at this point in the history of Nigeria, when revenues are dwindling, the nation has to tackle the problems
those in authorities and others in the tax net face.
“The problem of ignorance of the tax system is what is affecting the efforts to generate revenues apart from oil,’ said Ayo Subair, Lagos tax boss representing Gov. Akinwumi Ambode at the occasion in the Nigeria Institute of Foreign Affairs in Lagos.
Citing what Lagos underwent when it had problem getting federal allocations between 2003 and 2007, Subair said the state had to look inwards, and revamp its tax administration to cope with the challenge.
“Lagos then moved from N600 million to 12 billion monthly,” he said, adding that the state now generates between N25 billion and N30 billion monthly, projecting for N50 billion next year.
Oba Otudeko, chairman of Honeywell Group, also graced the occasion.
He said in his address there’s no government that can adequately provide for the well-being of its citizens without a good tax system.
Still on the problem facing taxation in Nigeria, Reginald Stanley, former executive director of the Petroleum and Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) told the National Daily Nigerians are willing to pay their taxes if they have a government they can trust.
That was to counter the argument of some tax experts who believe Nigerians want service first before they can be willing to pay their taxes.
And on double taxation most businesses complain of, Stanley said it is just a street talk.
“Taxation is a complex obligation that must necessarily be backed by law so that nobody can do anything they like. The laws are there—if they tax you that way, you can seek redress,” he said.
“I don’t believe government double tax anybody when the law does not permit it.”
Also remarking on a viable tax regime Ogunsakin wrote about, Andrew Davidson, deputy head of mission in the Lagos office of the Prosperity Fund, a U.K aid fund, in the British High Commission in Nigeria, highlighted how essential an effective tax system is to any country.
“In UK, there are two things unavoidable—tax and death,” he said.
According to him, the UK development fund, about £1.3 billion, is out to assist Nigeria and other eligible countries achieve development in many areas, including establishing an effective tax regime for better revenue generation, improved business environment, and infrastructure development.
Many state governments have gone into auto-drive in the effort to up the ante from their internally generated fund since the oil slump took effect in 2014.
The book chief launcher, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said no doubt an intellectual work like Ogunsakin’s, easy to understand as many already testified, will be of help in enlightening the government and the taxpayers in the revenue drive.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was the chairman of the occasion, though he later handed over to Cross River ex-Gov. Donald Duke.