Taiwo Oyedele, the chairman of the presidential committee on fiscal policy and tax reforms, has said that no government agency has been stopped from collecting revenue, but his team has been mandated to harmonize tax collection in the country. Oyedele, who is a former fiscal policy partner and African tax leader at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said that the Federal Government does not intend to introduce new taxes. The fiscal policy expert revealed this in a post on X (formerly Twitter), where he addressed some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the committee.
However, the tax expert said that many of the agencies would rather focus on their primary functions, so the committee plans to harmonize the fragmented revenue collection functions into one agency for each government. He said that this is the case in many countries including the leading tax regimes in Africa. In his words, “This reform will help to improve efficiency and enable the agencies to focus on their primary mandates for the overall benefit of the economy.”
Committee would rather reduce the number of taxes.
Meanwhile, Oyedele clarified that while the committee does not intend to introduce new taxes, it also does not want to impose higher tax rates. “Rather, our mandate is to reduce the number of taxes and levies while harmonizing revenue collection to reduce the burden on the people and businesses,” he said. The objective is to avoid taxing investment, capital, production or poverty. He said that the committee plans to review and re-enact the major tax laws in a holistic manner, thereby limiting the necessity for frequent changes through annual finance acts.
On how the committee plans to achieve a tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of 18 percent in three years, Oyedele said that the average tax-to-GDP ratio for Africa excluding Nigeria is about 18 percent. The target and the estimated tax gap of ₦20 trillion have been based on this. While he noted that there is a huge opportunity to generate revenue by leveraging technology and tax intelligence to close the tax gap, he said that the team will rationalize incentives, reduce the cost of collection, and optimize revenue from government assets and natural resources by doing so. That way, the country generates more revenue without introducing new taxes.
Tax boss pushes for exclusive tax collection by FIRS.
Speaking on the multiplicity of revenue collection by ministries, departments and agencies (MDA), the tax boss had earlier said that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was best-suited to collect revenue for the MDAs. He advised that the (MDA) of the federal government should not collect revenue directly. He said that Nigeria revenue collection from taxes is one of the lowest in the world, whereas the cost of collection is one of the highest. This is because the country has got many MDAs, the Federal Government having 63 agencies alone.
One of the problems with this is that these agencies are being distracted from doing their primary function which is to facilitate the economy. Another is that they were not set up to collect revenue. When they start doing so, they will not be able to collect the revenue efficiently. But when revenue collection is transferred to the FIRS, the cost and efficiency improve and the agencies simply focus on their primary work, which benefits the economy as a result.
The committee has been tasked with short-term tax reforms.
For instance, the Customs service focuses on trade facilitation and border protection. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) focuses on just regulating telecommunications. This is because they are not set up to collect revenue. “It can be your revenue and someone else can collect it for you,” Oyedele said. He said that there will be more transparency because each agency can see what is being collected and everything is accounted for properly. It is also a way of holding everyone to account as to how the money collected from the people is spent. The committee, which was inaugurated by President Bola Tinubu, is tasked with delivering tax reforms achievable in 30 days.