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Collaborations will improve tax returns, say ACCA, CITN

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The Global Chief Executive, ACCA, Helen Brand

The need for finance professionals with requisite skills and integrity, especially in accounting and tax administrations, given the evolving technology, has called for strategic collaborations.
Besides, collaborations that cut across professionals, with goals of instilling values and deepening development, would be what Nigeria needed to scale through the current economic challenge.

The Chief Executive of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Helen Brand, agreeing that Nigeria’s tax return has been one of the lowest in the world, said skills and highly ethical professionals are needed now to put processes transparently.

“I think the government is trying to look at taxation and revenue generation, because they are needed to build the services and utilities that Nigerians really expect. Of course, it has to be a balance.

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“The global changes show that incremental changes to individual circumstances are more likely to be absorbed than huge ones.

“On a flip side, you need very efficient and effective public service financial management to ensure that those revenues are efficiently and effectively managed.

“And ACCA has been very encouraged by public service reforms and the scales and capability within the public sector financial services to ensure public has confidence and trust in the way those taxes will be used.

“I think countries like Nigeria have a forward looking role. There is slow down, but there are opportunities. What we have to do is to equip people with the knowledge and the skills and the change of mindset that allows people to embrace such opportunities that are coming in the new economic environment,” she said.

Speaking on ACCA’s partnership with the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), she said members are developed as professional accountants and expected to understand taxation, but now have the opportunity to go even further in that taxation knowledge and specialise.

“I think in the heart of all of these is behaviours and specifically, ethical behaviours. And being a member of ACCA means committing entirety of your career to code of ethics, which one will be held accountable.

“And of course, we have a regulatory and disciplinary system that should member of the public wish to complain about conduct of one of our members, that would be investigated and action would be taken,” she added.

CITN President, Dame Olajumoke Simplice, said that accountancy and taxation are “Siamese twins”, as both are related to fiscal and monetary policy developments.

“The coming together of the two institutions is just to foster that relationship, build capacity for members. We want to look at the field of accountancy and taxation in-depth and then transfer that knowledge to our members.

“It’s serious partnership where professionalism and integrity are key. We both look ahead and we want to deliver quality membership and professionals that can talk with confidence in their field.

“We want to do research, we need to discuss technical issues as it affects the economy, not necessarily in Nigeria but globally too because the world is now a very small village and we need to key into all the developments in all its ramifications,” she said.

Speaking on the country’s tax system, she said that to harness the tax resources, there would be need to amend some tax laws and simplify others, so that they can be used to develop the economy.

Earlier, the Head of ACCA Nigeria, Tom Isibor, said ACCA’s strategy is clear, as it wants to work with national bodies and global organisations that will support their priority- development of the finance profession.

“We believe that we can’t do it alone, we need network of partners to maximise opportunities as they come. And we can do that with people of shared value, so that the scale in which we achieve that will be much more faster.

He noted that the accounting body had sealed two key partnerships- collaboration with CITN and The New Synergy Specialists (TNSS) Nigeria – an approved learning providers, certified by University of London.

ACCA Director for Africa, Jamil Ampomah, agreed that governments across Africa are grappling with tax challenges, particularly how to raise adequate revenue to support development of the various economies.

“I think there is an acceptance that the old ways of raising revenue are no longer viable because businesses are changing. So, government and revenue collection agencies need to find new ways to effectively mobilise and collect funds.

“I know also there’s aspect of having the right level of skills to combat tax audit to actually perform the duties within the revenue collection agencies. That also cut across Africa.

“The other challenge, which I believe most of you are aware of is really the tax base itself. And in most countries, we do have a very large sectors that are informal, and to a large extent, those sectors do not come within the tax bracket.

“Ultimately, the taxpayers need to be clear that services will be delivered for whatever they are paying. And government has a role to demonstrate to its citizenry how they are utilising funds. It works both ways,” he said.

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