Nigeria’s finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, on Friday said the federal government would step on toes in its revenue generation drive.
Mrs. Adeosun said only 214 people in the entire nation pay taxes of more than N20 million. All in that category are in Lagos.
The minister spoke at a parley put together by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, in collaboration with Bloomberg.
The programme, themed “Innovating Out of Nigeria’s recession: Exploring New Paradigms for Nigeria’s Economic Growth”, held in Lagos.
Mrs. Adeosun, who said that Nigeria’s road has been rough, noted that the nation’s infrastructure deficit demands that the government seeks funds to fix them.
She, however, explained that the nation suffers from low-level tax compliance which must be amended, adding that there is widespread malpractice among tax payers in Nigeria.
The minister said part of the plan was to recruit 7,500 community tax officers who will educate people about tax issues in communities.
“We have just 40 million active tax payers, out of an estimated 69.9 million…and of that 40 million, majority are PAYE, those who have their taxes deducted at source,” she said.
The minister said the government was working towards issues surrounding profit shifting, adding that it would begin monitoring companies that generate profits in Nigeria but shift taxes to countries of jurisdiction where little or no tax is payable.
She noted that the practice was bad and unacceptable, adding that the government would resist it.
“These practices harm Nigeria; these practices harm Nigerians and these practices must stop!”
She further said, “Only 214 people in the entire nation pay taxes of more than 20 million naira,” she said, adding that “all of which are in Lagos.”
She added that the nation’s tax to GDP ratio is poor and must be addressed.
For the nation to grow, Mrs. Adeosun said, it must address the inadequacies in the tax system.
“If we have to grow we must address these issues, and do so aggressively. And to do so we have to step on toes,” she added.