Why I pay taxes”
“As a villager, I loathed paying taxes, or what they called revenue, in our weekly open air market,” said Maitabo, the livestock trader who is now an industrialist in the big city where he established factories that turned out a basket of consumer goods, including polished rice.
He said he spent the first 40 years of his life in his native village without electricity. There was no smooth, all-season motorable road to his village either. The only school in the district was in Alkarya, the district headquarters of his Karkara collection of hamlets, tiny villages, and homesteads.
Maitabo said he previously viewed paying the community tax and cattle tax to the local leaders as an unnecessary dishing money out to big men who dress nicely, ride bicycles, even motor cycles and build cemented houses with roofs made of shiny corrugated iron sheets.
However, as his livestock trade expanded and the necessity for Maitabo to hire articulated trailers to convey his wares from the big livestock markets where he buys them in hundreds to far-flung consumption centres of Kano, Ibadan, Warri, Abuja, Benin, Uyo, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt and Okigwe near Umuahia, he appreciated that the wide, smooth and tarred highways plied by the trailers were important facilitators for his flourishing lucrative trade.
He also realised that the trailers conveying his livestock travel through thick forests where security personnel were stationed to protect travellers from marauders. The trailers were driven on bridges built by the government to cross both big rivers and streams: the days of using risky ferries to cross the rivers were over.
As an industrialist who graduated from livestock trade and living in a rural Nigeria 50 years ago, he is now face to face with the importance and benefits of paying taxes. And he no longer loathes paying taxes as he did previously. He nowadays encourages other business owners and everyone who will listen to him to pay taxes as and when due.
His favourite justification for his willingness to pay taxes was the improvement he noticed to the wellbeing of people in his village during a visit. The authorities have provided a laterite road linking his village to other towns; a windmill that draws potable water from a deep well for his community; a dispensary that meets the health care needs of a cluster of villages including his home village, and the most wonderful of all, the electricity that was wired to the village by the Rural Electrification Authority.
Maitabo will tell his listeners that it was long after he enjoyed various government services that it dawned on him that the livestock tax he paid and the flat tax paid by all male adults in his village, contributed to the pool of money spent in providing those services in his and other neighbouring villages.
Now as a dweller in a city, the owner of manufacturing plants and a fleet of trailers that bring raw materials to his factories and evacuate manufactured goods from there, he realises that the constant electricity supplied to his factories and the smooth roads used by his articulated trucks were emplaced by government using the very taxes he previously loathed to pay.
He now discourages tax evasion; shun false tax entries and avoids quarrels with tax officials. Maitabo believes as the World Bank does in a Subnational Studies on ease of doing business that, taxpayers and businesses are interested in what they get for their taxes: quality infrastructure including good roads, reliable railway network, functional aviation facilities, efficient sea ports, continuous supply of electricity and telecommunication connectivity, which are all vital for the sound functioning of an economy.
A healthy workforce enhances economic competitiveness and productivity. This makes governments invests in the provision of health services. Government also spends on imparting relevant skills to improve the efficiency of workers. It provides tertiary education facilities such as the 37 Federal Polytechnics, 43 Federal Universities and 27 Federal Colleges of Education where top-level human capital is nurtured to support the economy through technical innovations.
Maitabo often explains to his listeners that although the government in Nigeria charges excise, import and export duties and collects petroleum profit tax to raise revenue to finance the operations of the security forces namely the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Civil Defense, he noted that the bread and tea millions of Nigerians buy daily, complete with fried eggs and the meals they enjoy in countless eateries and open air restaurants, including the peppersoup, are not taxed by the government.
Maitabo is always at his best telling people who listen to him why he pays taxes. He points out that revenues from taxes are used to compensate public servants who provide essential services as ambulance drivers, fire fighters, nurses in healthcare centres and air traffic controllers who contribute to safe aviation in the country.
He narrates correctly that Nigerians who travel anywhere by road, sea and air, inevitably drive on government-provided roads, use safe sea lanes cleared by the country’s maritime authority and fly out or land at beautiful airports built by government–using money from taxes.
Maitabo admits that he benefits immensely from the services provided by the government which it pays for with money generated through taxation, and wished that those services continue to improve sustainably, often saying, “That is why I pay taxes.”
By Salisu Na’inna Dambatta
“Nigeria College of Taxation and Fiscal Studies” Bill Passes Second Reading
A bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria College of Taxation and Fiscal Studies passed its Second Reading last week at the Senate.
The presentation of the Bill was made by Senator Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi CON on the floor of the Senate Tuesday last week, where he noted that the institution, if established would provide professional and academic training as well as certification for tax administrators, tax practitioners and tax professionals across the country.
In his presentation, Senator Sabi, who represents Niger North Senatorial District of Niger State stated that the College had become necessary given the important role that taxation is playing in the nation’s economy, and that this institution would help formulate and draft tax policy for the country while addressing human capital gaps in the country’s tax industry.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that diversifying the sources of government revenue to focus on sustainable sources is inevitable. This diversification puts taxation at the centre of the revenue mobilization discussion; the attainment of this laudable objective would require tax experts who have been properly and adequately schooled to formulate tax policy, draft and interpret tax legislation, carry on private tax practice, and administer taxation in the modern era.
“In view of the constant shift in the social, technological and business environment, with direct impact on the tax system, it is is important to have skills, competence, and adaptable personnel to man the tax system. There must be a conscious development of the field of taxation and fiscal policies in Nigeria to awake the society on the importance of taxation as a sine qua non to our development.
“Nigeria must go beyond the mere inclusion of taxation in the curriculum of educational institutions; instead the country must establish a modern system that facilitates the study of taxation via a well laid out academic curriculum, guided and focused by practical realities of Nigerian taxation and the revenue ecosystem,” he noted.
Senator Sabi further emphasised that the College would help in tackling the issue of lack of sufficient capacity of tax officers, which he noted has led to “the delegation of powers of revenue authorities to third parties, creating complications, multiplicity and uncertainty in the tax system,” and that it would correct “aggressive and orthodox methods for tax collection” while also carrying out a “regular review of obsolete tax laws that do not reflect modern realities.”
He noted that all these would help the country address its fiscal and revenue challenges and achieve the objectives of the National Tax Policy.
In his presentation, the distinguished Senator representing Niger North also cited that countries such as Kenya, Japan, India, Australia, Austria, Singapore, and Malaysia have established similar institutions for developing capacity in taxation, excise duty and customs and fiscal matters, and that this has impacted positively on their economy through significantly high tax-to-GDP ratios.
This College is expected to provide training for tax officials, including officers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Customs, sub-national revenue authorities, and even the general public. It is to consist of a main campus and 12 regional centres.
The Bill proposes that the College would be funded chiefly by the extant yearly subvention of the FIRS for training thus requiring no direct impact on government spending.
Senator Adamu Aliero representing Kebbi Central District, Kebbi State, commenting on the Bill noted that the only sustainable source of revenue for the Federation was taxation, and that the proposed College would train tax officials who would be instrumental to widening the country’s tax net.
He also added that there is currently no institution in Nigeria that offers specialised training in taxation.
NLC, CBN meet in Abuja over Cash scarcity
In less than 24 hours after the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, directed all its branches and affiliate unions to mobilize members for a shut down of all the branches of the Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN, across the country, over cash scarcity, the apex bank on Thursday evening met with the NLC at the Labour House Abuja.
Recall that the Comrade Joe Ajaero-led NLC, had on Wednesday while addressing journalists said that activities in all branches of the CBN nationwide and the Abuja headquarters will be shut down on Wednesday next due to the cash crunch in the country.
Comrade Ajaero had advised workers to stockpile food items as the industrial dispute with the CBN will be total.
He said Nigerians have been subjected to untold hardship occasioned by the scarcity of naira notes to attend to medical needs and other areas of need.
Vanguard gathered that the NLC threat to paralyze activities at the CBN necessitated the impromptu meeting which started at about 5 pm on Thursday.
The two man delegation made up of the CBN Deputy Gpvrrnor in charge of operations and the Deputy Governor in charge of Economic Pokicy, told the NLC President that about two billion naira was pushed out on Thursdsy in a bid to address the hardship.
A source privy to the meeting told Vanguard that the CBN promised to ensure that the scarcity of naira notes will come to an end as quickly as possible.
“They said the money they pushed out today is equivalent to the whole money pushed out within the week. They also promised to work day and night starting from this night to ensure that there is enough money in the banks,” the source said.
He further said that the CBN denied the allegation that it was printing money out of the country and that the Governor, Godwin Emefiele has directed that the old naira notes should be made available to customers.
Besides, the source denied the allegation that the old naira notes have been burnt, assuring that there will be remarkable improvement in few days to come.
It was gathered that the NLC President, Comrade Ajaero told the CBN delegation that he was not interested in how much that was pushed out, but only interested in seeing that workers and other Nigerians collect their money in banks without stress..
“The President told them that it does not bother us how much they pushed out, our concern is to see that this hardship comes to a stop.
“He also told them that they should work day and night to solve the problem and will depend on the feedback from the average Nigerians who go to the banks to make withdrawals whether there is improvement before Wednesday next week NLC planned to picket the apex bank ,” the source said.
When contacted, the NLC President, Comrade Ajaero, confirmed the meeting and said that the interest of the leadership is to see that Nigerians are able to withdraw their money devoid of the hardship they are passing through.
“We will only know that they are serious when we see improvement,” he added.
EFCC Arraigns FCMB Manager Over N55Million Overdraft Fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned one Kichime Gomwalk, a bank manager and two others for alleged fraud.
Gomwalk of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited were arraigned on Tuesday before Justice P. S. Gang of the Plateau State High Court Jos.
The accused persons were arraigned on five counts bordering on stealing, cheating and obtaining by false pretence money to the tune of N55,000.000.00 (fifty-five million naira).
Gomwalk, while serving as the manager of the bank’s branch at Murtala Mohammed Way in Jos, the Plateau State capital, was alleged to have forged COCIN Gratuity Certificate of Pledge/Letter of Set-Off dated December 30, 2019, purportedly co-signed by Mrs. Monica Bitrus Tang and Rev (Dr.) Amos Musa Mohzo, Directors.
It was allegedly used to secure an overdraft facility from FCMB Plc to the tune of N55 million with COCIN Gratuity account number 100GOMWALK379 domiciled with FCMB Plc.
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