President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday called for the urgent review of the nation’s tax laws to make for a more efficient and productive tax system in the country.
Saraki who gave the charge while inaugurating the Technical Committee on Reforming Nigeria’s Tax System at the National Assembly in Abuja, said the Federal Government’s target should not only be that of increased revenue, but evolving a tax system that is productive and efficient.
He lamented that there still existed a lot of duplication in the tax regime and called on the committee to harmonise the various tax instruments in order to make for greater ease of doing business in the country.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, said: “For a country like ours that wants to grow, we must adopt a more efficient and productive tax system.
“It is not just to increase revenue alone, I think it is also to address how efficient and the level of harmonisation of taxes across board, particularly as we operate a three tier system of government.
“One of the difficulties or frustration you find, from business people is where they have to pay similar taxes at the local, state and federal levels.
“There is a lot of duplication even from state to state. You see people moving goods from Sokoto State to Lagos and by the time they do that, they are made to pay similar taxes along the way at various inter-state and local government checkpoints.
“This at the long run makes business unproductive. I hope that at the end of the day you should have an approach that will bring in a system that is efficient, a system that reduces all these barricades and the different challenges on the ease of doing business,” he said.
He called for the expansion of the technical committee to include major players in the private sector “as it is better to engage and get their input rather than giving them directives during the implementation of the expected reforms.”
He called on the committee to come up with an approach that would harmonise the tax process among the three levels of government.
“It should also be an approach that is transparent, consistent and stable. People must be very clear on what they should pay. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the private sector to get involved.
“This is an opportunity for us to really redesign the tax system of our country and I think there are a lot of experts in the private sector because at the end of the day they are the ones that the law is going to affect.
“We need to engage them rather than just giving them directives. I think there is need for the committee to expand its membership to include stakeholders from the private sector,” he stated.
Earlier, the leader of the Technical Committee and Director General of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), Professor Ladi Hamalai, thanked the Senate President for the initiative aimed at reforming the nation’s tax system.
“The expected report and pieces of legislation from the work of this Technical Committee will not only harmonise the various disparate legislations, it would also facilitate the ease of paying taxes in the country and at the same time, impact on the overall ease of doing business,” Prof. Hamalai said.
Members of the committee include representatives of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and State Commissioners of Finance.