The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that only the development of a strong tax administration can guarantee sustainable development among member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The Minister, who was speaking at the opening of the 4th meeting of the West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) in Abuja on Monday, stressed the need for information sharing among member countries as critical for resource mobilization and revenue generation. She also stressed the need for effective and efficient mobilization of resource to enhance the development of ECOWAS member states.
“The work of WATAF is of immense significance, as it is expected that it would assist in developing a strong tax administration in West African countries and make them well positioned to generate revenue for governments within the region, so as to meet their huge developmental needs,” she said.
The Minister said the WATAF initiative agrees with the global focus on domestic resource mobilization, especially for developing nations, adding that the forum can provide a useful platform for West African countries to mobilize resources towards achieving their individual and collective developmental goals.
Represented by the Acting Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Kabir Mashi, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said she is excited that the FIRS had set the pace in implementing the provisions of the National Tax Policy (NTP) as regards wide network on international and regional treaties.
She noted that in spite of its establishment less than a year ago in Nigeria, membership of such international bodies has helped promote both international and regional cooperation in the areas of exchange of information, capacity building and collaboration in tax policy and administration.
The forum’s objective of bringing together tax agencies within the West Africa sub-region for the purpose of collaboration and exchange of information is aimed at improving the overall quality of tax administration in the different jurisdictions overseen by the tax agencies.
In addition, the forum seeks to create a platform for tax agencies in the region to have a common position on tax policy and administration matters.
The Acting Executive Chairman of FIRS, who was represented by the Coordinating Director, Support Services Group (SSG), Osy Chuke, said the meeting represented a major step in achieving the vision to make WATAF a major voice on tax policy and administration in the region.
He said that the forum, which had as its theme “Sharing Experiences in Best Practices in Tax Administration,” was conceived to enable the region find a common solution to issues on general tax administration and revenue generation that would facilitate the developmental agenda of member nations.
No fewer than 30 delegates from Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Bukina Faso attended the meeting, which focused principally on the Drafting of a Legal Framework for the formal establishment of the forum and the proposal of an organisational structure for the forum, drafting of a Memorandum of Cooperation and Multilateral Agreement as well as Presentation of Tax Policies of various countries in the sub-region.