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CITN scores govt’s tax plans low, seeks review of budget proposals


THE Federal Government’s acclaimed tax strategies to boost revenue may have been assessed low, even as zero-based budgeting was recommended to help scrutinize the contents of the current fiscal proposal.

  Besides, the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN)- the sole body charged by the Constitution to train and regulate tax practices in the country, which made the observation during a media chat in Lagos, yesterday, noted that the current economic realities called for attention to details to identify waste, as well as pruning down excesses in the fiscal plan.

  The President and Chairman of Council, CITN, Chief Mark Anthony Dike, who made the disclosure, lamented that government’s approach to tax matters betrays its claims.

 Describing the revenue projections from the proposed Luxury Tax as narrow flows, as it would only contribute 0.38 per cent to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), assuming a revenue target of N6 trillion, he pointed out that another issue of concern presently is the question of whether it is a tax or levy as the necessary legal instrument to back it up has not been submitted to the National Assembly for consideration.

 He noted that government has encouraged tax payment as it consistently appoint people without consideration to their tax compliance status, even presenting someone who has been indicted over tax malpractices.

 “We reiterate our call on government to consider the current non-oil sector growth drivers such as Mining and Quarrying, Trade, Information and Communication, Telecommunications and Information Services and Real Estate Sectors which constitute 14.50 per cent, 17.02 per cent, 10.94 per cent, 8.69 per cent and 8.02 per cent respectively of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at 2013 for increased revenue,” he said.

According to him, the focus should now be on using any excess arising from crude oil prices to boost the critical revenue buffer needed to hedge the economy from revenue volatilities, as well as cutting down over-bloated recurrent expenditure that has not added much value to government’s fiscal transparency drive.

 Speaking on the malfunctioning refineries, controversial pump price of petrol and the subsidy, he said the institute is displeased with the current regime of importation of refined petroleum products, thereby subjecting local purchase of petroleum products to international reference prices. 

  “The Institute believes that the Nigerian government has not done enough over time to address the local refining challenges of the local economy. We strongly believe that if this challenge is addressed with the patriotism and vigour that is required, there is no reason why the downstream sector cannot be fully deregulated with provisions made for intervention where necessary in the sector.

“It came as a surprise when the government said it still maintained a subsidy of N2.84 per litre on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) even with the reduction in the crude oil price as at the time. We are at a loss as to why elements of a subsidy regime still subsists for a government that has always shown preference for deregulation of the downstream sector. 

  “We call on the government to set the records straight both by way of analysis of the new pump price and plans for this vital sector of the Nigerian economy going forward,” he said.

He however, canvassed a more transparent and responsible waiver regime, where the beneficiaries are tracked for utilisation and performance with respect to the impact of the waivers and concessions.

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