Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has stated that taxation plays a critical role in defining government’s accountability and directs the society positively.
Speaking in his office, while receiving a delegation of the African Tax Administration Forum, ATAF, at the Presidential Villa, the Vice President said when people don’t pay taxes they will not feel a sense of claim to the resources and corruption would be allowed to go unchecked.
“The business of taxation is a contract between the government and the people. Countries that export commodities and are involved in the extractive industries such as Nigeria had focused only on the revenues from such sources and have not benefitted from taxation. We missed the point long before now,” Professor Osinbajo told the delegation.
The Vice President further said people should appreciate that government will do what it is supposed to do by providing services and creating an enabling environment for their business and lives to thrive.
“Very often you hear people say ‘we don’t pay taxes because we don’t see the services. If government takes its responsibilities seriously it is easier for people to pay taxes,” he said.
While emphasizing the important role of taxation in governance, the Vice President called on tax administrators in Africa to develop a more robust tax administration system and also commended the existence of such a forum.
Leader of the delegation and Chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum, Mr Gershem Pasi said part of the work of the forum is addressing the problem of illicit financial outflows from Africa, as directed by the African Union.
He said through cooperation between member states, ATAF works towards increasing the level of voluntary tax compliance whilst combating tax evasion and avoidance.
“The work that we are doing across the continent is basically to support each other in being efficient and effective in raising revenues for our respective governments., for the African Union has directed that we need to mobilize domestic resources rather than depend on donors from outside all the time,” he stated.
Mr Pasi, who is also the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwean Revenue Authority, said the Council of ATAF was in Nigeria for a meeting, preparatory to its general assembly. “We had a good meeting with the Vice President, who gave us word of encouragement to continue on this path and to call on his good office whenever the need arises. We have 38 members across the continent and our meeting here as Council, is in preparation to the general assembly that we will hold.”
Chairman of Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Tunde Fowler, who was part of the delegation, told Voice of Nigeria that African countries can adequately fund their budgets through taxation.
“The era of oil is basically over and now we are looking towards taxation to fund the current budget and subsequent ones. In ATAF we exchange ideas and also try and learn from each other. The best way to move forward is to ensure that taxation moves to a point that we can beat our chests and say that Africa as a continent is self sufficient financially through taxation,” Mr Fowler declared.
He said payment of tax is mandatory and citizens must shun tax evasion, in order to boost development.