The Oxfam in Nigeria has urged the federal government to fast-track actions on the newly approved National Tax Policy as part of measures to tackle corporate Crimes.
The Oxfam in Nigeria Country Director, Mr. Constant Tchona, made the call Wednesday in Abuja at the public unveiling of the Fair Tax Index report and the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRII) report.
The event was with the theme “West Africa Inequality Crisis: The Fight Against Inequality through Progressive Taxation”.
According to him, Oxfam has developed policy recommendations and influencing strategies, saying it would be used to advocate for a fairer tax system that helps to redistribute prosperity from the richest in the societies to the very poorest.
He said that a 2015 Oxfam’s report highlights the inefficiency of Nigeria’s tax incentives where it submits that the country loses N580bn annually through tax incentives to multinational corporations.
While saying that the health budget was only one third of this amount in 2015, Tchona said Nigeria needs to rework its strategies and sets its economic priorities right by investing in agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure rather than waste its hard-earned resources on unproductive and redundant tax incentives.
He regretted that the official Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) numbers suggest that the entire tax system was fraught with crippling challenges of weak enforcement, corruption and outright evasion.
“The records show that about 30 per cent of companies in Nigeria are involved in tax evasion and also 25 per cent of registered companies in the country are not paying tax. Taxpayers often opt to negotiate with corruption tax administration staff in return for gratifications and reduced sums to the coffers of the government,” he said.
Tchona said that the fiscal incentives granted with the hope of stimulating investments into the country’s economy are eroded with poor governance and lack of transparency, especially when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has confirmed that there was no cost benefit analysis to justify the expemtions and when there is no check in discretionary powers residing with the Executive in granting exemptions.
He said that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) was designed to increase tax revenue by encouraging voluntary disclosure of any previously undisclosed income liable for tax and to bring as many people as possible into the tax net, resulted in $5m extra revenue which is about N1.8bn, but this was only 10 percent of the expected amount.
He however urged the federal government to opt for aggressive taxation of the informal sector to meet revenue targets.