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Understanding Edo New Tax Administration (4)

By Erasmus Ikhide
 Published May 29th, 2009

THE tax administration in Nigeria is not a cast-iron case without taking due cognizance of the denizens; the very poor, the not so poor, the rich and the supper rich. It is proportionate to all according to his or her earnings so as to curb undue exploitation of the poor to reward the rich. The people of Edo State must find a path back to those glorious days, to prosperity as it were, by describing how to respond to our depleting economy that left the vast majority behind poverty line even before Oshiomhole’s ascendancy. This, as we all know, is due mainly to greed, visionlessness, and corruption that rewarded injustice at the expense of hard labour.

Just now, Federal Government has caught the bug and comes to the realization that the healthiness of a nation lies critically at the heart of taxation and, that concrete nation-being suffers without holistic process of taxation. The minister of State for Finance, Remi Babalola has joined, though belatedly, in our clarion calls in Edo and Lagos States in our taxation drives as the single most potent source of revenue generation towards the creation of a viable economy. The reawaken is a welcome signal that we may yet recover from the shock wave that our nation has undergone due to the crash of oil price over the last six to eight months.

At an annual tax conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria CITN, recently held in Abuja, Remi Babalola alerted the nation that Federal Government is being owed over N260 billion and $260 million in Withholding tax WHT, Pay As You Earn PAYE, and Value Added Tax VAT, by companies, institutions, ministries, departments and agencies MDAs. ‘‘The government, Remi Babalola said, ‘‘has observed the disturbing trend of delay in the remittance of revenue collected by some banks to the appropriate authorities. There is alarming volume of tax debts owed by companies, institutions and MDAs to government, raising question of whether the current penalty for defaulters is adequate’’.

Not only that, Remi Babalola disclosed that government would soon review the penalty for defaulters in WHT, PAYE and VAT. He also averred that government is determine to ensure that taxes are certain, fair, easy to understand, straight forward to pay and economical to collect. He didn’t stop at that. He noted that the government resolve is to be ‘proactive and look beyond the challenges of the moment to reposition the economy to effectively meet its present and future growth needs, which all Nigerians will be proud of’.

Make no mistake about it: there is nothing wrong with our tax laws as amended in 2004, but every dam thing has been wrong with the bizarre leadership style of the rulers of this country from bottom up that has let up its contractual responsibility, albeit felt-heartedly, in lieu of free money it gets from Niger Delta which it allowed to be diverted to private use. If the Nigeria state has judiciously utilized the oil wealth to develop the teaming youths and the infrastructures, the chances are that we would have been far more between and comfortable with ourselves today in all our chosen endevours.

It is not healthy for a nation to depend wholly on an exhaustible resource when it can deviate substantially through allowable variables as an emulative precedent for nation-building. But because we have failed to imbibe a culture of contributing to the pool to sustain the imposing structures our rulers imposed on us through vague preoccupation and white elephant projects occasioned by free money we also lost sight along with our leaders that we are not on the right part to economic rebirth.

The buck of the blames still rest at the barrel chest of our corrupt politicians whose insatiable lost for greed surpasses the genuine desire to heal the festering virus that is drowning the nation. Alas! The enemies of the people of Edo State are now head-over-heels with euphoria that the Comrade Governor was out to chastise the people who voted him into office with iron hands. The PDP running dogs are wont to alledge that payment of tax was punishment to the people of Edo who have been roundly denied of good governance over the years.

These criticisms relocates us back to pre-Oshiomhole era, where even the evidence of existence of government vanished as a recognizable symbol of governance. We wouldn’t get back to those unenvied distinctions of our state, where hundreds of billions of millions of dollars are allocated to the state, but relocate to private accounts at the same time.

Nothing can be more worrisome than to find one’s state in more than sympathetic condition. But the self-declared champions of Edo people are the perpetuators of this given poverty in the state. There is no use attempting any holier-than-thou approach to what has become a national issue that needed concerted efforts towards the revival of the nation’s economy woes. Oshiomhole’s resolve are that: wait a minute, whether the outclassed predators like or not the good people of Edo State who have borne the burden of poverty will enjoy the last laugh.

But because we wouldn’t just walk up to the Central Bank of Nigeria and ask to be given minted print of hundreds of billions of naira we need to develop our states as did Zimbabwe, we opted for this painful but rewarding option that encompasses mass reorientation of giving back 10% or a part of ones’ earnings to the state in order to aggregate tangentially the plight and aspiration of one and all.

 

Erasmus Ikhide is a Senior Special Assistance Media Affairs to Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomnhole.


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