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CITN sues for inclusive growth, sustainable development agenda

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Chief Mark Chidolue DikeTHE call for inclusive growth and sustainable development, which is a sharp contrast from the usual quantitative figures reeled out often, has again been made, if the country would record a meaningful impact on the citizenry.

Besides, the persistent abuse of the provisions of Tax Holiday in the country should be reversed to plug in the huge revenue losses, which would have boosted government coffers.

The President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Chief Mark Chidolue Dike, made the observations during a press conference on the 17th yearly tax conference of the body, in Lagos, on Wednesday.

According to him, the institute, as a stakeholder in the Nigeria Project, is committed to evolving a viable tax system that would not only translate to increased revenue to the government, but also and more importantly, better the welfare of the citizens.

He said that given the obvious difference between the nation’s growth reports and the assessed standard of living of the populace, there was need to understand and benchmark growth against verifiable indices.

This year’s tax conference, slated for May 13 to 16, in Abuja, with the theme “Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development: Fiscal Imperatives, Prospects and Challenges”, he said, was informed by the fact that economic development requires sound foundations and the timing coincided with the period of change of government.

“Growth and economic development are not synonymous, and inequality could be a barrier for growth. Several opinions had been expressed on the importance of redistribution of income as the most effective way for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

“Economic growth is a narrower concept than economic development. While economic growth is quantitative measured by an increase in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), economic development is qualitative, and is measured by an increase in the per capita income of the citizens, nay, the standard of living,” the tax chief said.

He pointed out that universal access to education, health services, access to financial services, new technologies, affordable mortgage facilities, bank loans and better distribution of resources could all support economic development in Nigeria.

Additionally, stable and predictable operating environment, good governance and tackling of corruption at all levels in both private and public sectors are some of the major prerequisites for private sector investments.

Dike said that while he was not preempting the thoughts of the various speakers, who would tackle the issues at the conference, there cannot be sustainable development without inclusive growth. “Inclusion is more about ensuring that the benefits of economic growth reach all segments of society.

For example, energy access blueprints, which aim to bring modern energy solutions to the doorstep of every household, seek to advance the agenda of inclusion. In Nigeria particularly, inclusion refers to the very large marginalized segments’ right to be a part of the economic growth story.

“Inclusion is an urgent and widespread problem in Nigeria, particularly because there are great disparities in access to gains of development. “Sustainability, on the other hand, is about balancing economic growth with environmental and social benefits.

It is about accepting the fact that economic growth does not necessarily in and of itself provide environmental and social gains – including addressing the problem of social inclusion,” he said.

He lamented that various efforts in the area of evolving a viable tax system as a panacea for economic growth and development are yet to be translated to better living conditions for majority of our citizens in addition to giving the nation a strong economic footing.

“Apparently therefore, we feel statutorily obliged to initiate programmes and discussions that would not only help in critically addressing these issues, but would also find solutions to the numerous problems bedeviling our economy.

Already, beside four scholarly and well-articulated papers to be presented at the conference, among others, President Goodluck Jonathan would declare the forum open, while the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will deliver the paper.


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