Saturday, 19 July 2014

How to improve Anambra State IGR?

Okechukwu Onuegbu

Unarguably, income tax and levies are among the government revenue generating windows in Nigeria. Others include but not restricted to federal allocations which each state receives from the federal government on monthly basis, grants, loans and dividends from some international or donor agencies.
Income tax, by ways of definition, encompasses specific amount of money every working class citizen (usually, people of 18 years and above) ought to pay to their government, willingly, in accordance with their earnings. This could be deducted from workers’ salaries per month, while entrepreneurs and other citizens’ mostly contribute parts of their remuneration and wages through direct and indirect taxation among other legal means as determined by the government.
Government is expected to utlise the revenues generated therein in betterment of the societies where it governed. In accordance to this, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, section 17, subsection 3 (a-h) directed the Federal, States and Local Government Areas to provide adequate means of livelihood and social amenities to the citizenries, even as section 1, chapter 11, subsection 24 (f) charged the governed to comply by paying their tax promptly.
Additionally, section 165 of the same constitution affirms that all state shall in respect of each financial year, pay to the federation an amount equal to such part of the expenditure incurred by the federation during that financial year for the purpose of collection of taxes or duties which are wholly or partly payable to the state as proportionate to share of the proceeds of those taxes or duties received by the state in respect of the financial year.
However, the origin of taxation could be traced to Bible because in Matthew 22vs 21; Jesus advices believers to pay to God what duly belongs to Him (Tithe) and Government (Caesar) what deems necessary to it. Also, the Holy scripture recounted Jesus ordeals with tax collectors including Levi (also known as Apostle Matthew), while disclosing how Christ paid taxes for Himself and His disciples through a coin miraculously excavated from the belly of a fish by Apostle Peter.
As a result, the federal government of Nigeria established Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission at the centre and the Board of Internally Generated Revenue throughout the 36 states of the federation and a similar ministry throughout the 177 council areas in the country.
In Anambra State to be precise, the Board of Internal Revenue is a governmental agency charged with the full responsibility of generating revenues for smooth running of the state government through income tax, clearance and levies, property tax, parks and market among others. The staffers of this agency along with their colleagues in the Ministry of Transport, Anambra State Property and Land Use Charge (APLUC) and market leaders work unanimously towards realisation of this dream.
Early 1990s, the state which pride itself as “Light of the Nation” was at forefront in terms of IGR in the whole Southeast geopolitical zone sequel to revenues generated in her markets clusters at Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia, Ihiala, Ogidi, etc where economic trees and farm produce such as oranges, palm oil, palm nuts, coconuts, mangoes, cashew nuts, groundnuts, rice, tubers of yams, abacha, iwu, etc are been marketed.
As at then, it was not uncommon to see tax collectors (both the genuine and fakes) parading at respective markets, specifically at Upper-Iweka axis Onitsha, if not for the story’s of one Chief Pericoma, an Arondizuogu son whose diabolic acts reportedly sent tax collectors to their heels at the process of been arrested to pay tax.
However, Analysts observed that Anambrarians and her residents, at present, have turned deaf ears to their civil responsibility (so to say), despite multiple markets, uncountable motor-parks, heavy commercial trucks of all kinds of goods, companies, private and commercial houses, hotels, eateries and so on hovers across the state like vultures in the market square.
It was on this note that the erstwhile Governor Peter Obi, allegedly contracted private firms and individuals to assist in improving the state IGR, but all to no avail as his administration recoded poor IGR compared to what was tenable at Enugu state (which Anambra stood aloft in the previous years).
To this end, the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano, on assumption of office, pledged to do his possible best to boost the state internally generated revenue, with an assurance that the state civil servants would have their remuneration increased once this dream materialised. But how could this be actaulised? What measures are to be put in place so as to revive the state lost glory and put sparkling smiles on the faces of her citizenries?
Mr. Polycarp Onwubiko, a social affairs commentator, admonished the governor to retrieve all the state revenue windows from private firms and individuals, and re-channel them to appropriate government ministries or agents, because according to him, they are fully grounded with experiences needed in handling the matter.
Mr. Onwubiko, who reiterated the needs to train and equip the staff of Anambra State Board of Internal Revenue with modern facilities, ICT, vehicles and other incentives with a view to enabling them carry-out their function effectively and efficiently, eadvised Obiano to leave the local government internally generated revenue and allocations on the elected council executives entirely which was allegedly misappropriated by his predecessor, and open doors for other revenue widows to thrive.
On his part, Sir Okey Moka, Chairman, Anambra State Board of Internal Revenue said it would not be business as usual as his agency is ready to ensure that the administration delivers on its mandate.
According to Moka, the Board is working to capture the profiles of eligible tax payers and employees in the state; companies or offices they work for accurate documentation of their data, salary structures, etc so as to further compel their respective employers to remit all they had deducted from them in the past for the purpose of tax.
Similarly, he said the agency would soon introduce POS standard payment terminal in order to provide enabling environment for hawkers, entrepreneurs, private business executives, travelers and special service providers without a definite address, to pay as and at due; while the market leaders and other agents from the ministry would be mobilised to action at their areas of jurisdiction.
Sir Moka, while noting that the board has blocked the loopholes through which some unknown persons siphoned the state revenue years back, frowned at miscreants who still masquerade as the government tax collectors agents, charging them to quit or be ready to face the wrath of law, because the agency would prosecute defaulters; both the so-called agents and those they defraud, through its enforcement teams.
While, the Anambra State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budgeting, Prof. Solomon Chukwulobelu, in an interview earlier, charged all the eligible tax payers resident in the state to join hands with the government to move Anambra state to enviable height, by ensuring they pay their tax and levies promptly as that contribute to the state internally generated revenue, which according to him, is the government enablement to engender quality socio-economic development in the societies where it governs, as it empowers the governed to efficiently and effectively address issues of social infrastructure, recruitment, optimum payment of civil servants salaries.



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