FIRS boss Fowler tasks governors to give autonomy to state tax authorities

Babatunde Fowler, FIRS Chairman [Photo: politicoscope.com]
Babatunde Fowler, FIRS Chairman [Photo: politicoscope.com]

The Chairman of the Joint Tax Board, JTB, Tunde Fowler, on Monday placed a call to the Kwara State Governor, AbdulFatah Ahmed, saying “ask your colleagues to empower their State Internal Revenue Services (SIRSs) by giving them autonomy.”

Autonomy, Mr. Fowler said, is the key to professionalism and generation of more revenue.

“The good work that you are doing is evident in the performance of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, KWIRS. It is good enough for others to follow. We commend the work that KWIRS is doing and agreed amongst ourselves to adopt is as a model. Like I often tell my colleagues, we members of JTB must not disappoint Nigerians.

“I like you to call on other governors, your colleagues in other states who have not taken the bold step to please do and give autonomy to State Internal Revenue Services. Please help us to convey this to them as an ambassador and tell other governors.

“While calling on the members of the JTB to intensify efforts towards meeting our revenue targets, I enjoin the various state governments to enhance funding of the tax authorities so as to achieve the desired objectives to ask his colleagues to do the same. You may have a vision. But if you don’t have the revenue to drive that vision, it is mere dream.

“I like to commend the efforts of the Executive Governor in transforming the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service. It is on record that the State annual IGR grew from N7.1 billion in 2015 to N17.2 billion in 2016. I therefore, urge the service not to relent in their efforts and continue to work hard to justify the encouragement received by the state government.

Mr. Fowler, who is also the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, spoke in Ilorin on Monday, at the opening ceremony of the 137th Meeting of the JTB, with the theme: “Collaboration amongst tax Authorities: Its Impact on Revenue Generation and Service Delivery to Taxpayers.”

Governor Ahmed, who declared the meeting open, told the 36 chairmen of the State Internal Revenue Service that KWIRS’ ability to grow Kwara’s annual internally generated revenue fromN7.1 billion in 2015 to N17.2 billion in 2016 is predicated on three key planks: people, processes and technology.

He noted that Kwara’s IGR moved from N600 million in 2015 prior to autonomy to N1.5 billion monthly, with increase of about N17.4 billion in 2016.

“As you are aware the Kwara State government signed the Kwara State Revenue Administration Law No. 6 of 2015 on the 22nd of June, 2015. Ever since the face of revenue administration has witnessed significant changes that started with the complete change of the people, process and technology for the administration of taxes,” he said.

The governor who noted that the state has floated the Kwara State Infrastructure Bond (IF-K) into which a percentage of the State’s IGR will be paid, said that the state wants to ensure that contractors are no longer owed in Kwara as banks will not fret to give loans to contractors.

But it is no longer business as usual, Governor Ahmed warned.

“While we thank all stakeholders for their contribution to the achievements, taxpayers need note that tax payment is a civic responsibility for the development of the state.”

He noted that government cannot provide the goods of democracy without citizens playing their part.

To earn continued support of taxpayers, government must demonstrate transparency and show what taxes being collected are being used for. It can no longer be business as usual.

“In Kwara State, our government is committed to the support of Kwara State Internal Revenue Service in the pursuit of revenue mobilisation for the strategic development of Kwara State.

“This positive result has encouraged us to go ahead with our plan to plough the revenue back into the development of infrastructure through the introduction of improve provision of social amenities to the people.  I welcome you to the 137th meeting of the JTB in this 50th year of the creation of Kwara State.

The governor noted that tax authorities across the country could benefit from synergy and cross-fertilisation of ideas adding that: “In the 26 years of the operation of the JTB, Kwara State is hosting the meeting for the first time. It is worthy that Kwara State is hosting the meeting at a time when our major reforms of tax collection and management has yielded significant results’’.

He said the tax payment was the civic responsibility of the citizenry that must be held and that the government would ensure judicious use of the collection to improve the welfare of the people.


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