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Obasanjo calls for tax audit to detect shortfall

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Olusegun Obasanjo

Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has emphasized the need for tax administrators in Local, State and Federal levels to critically pay attention to tax issues and education for the sake of national development.

Speaking at the launch and public presentation of a book, titled: “A Review of Effective Tax Regime in Nigeria”, written by Tunde Ogunsakin, Obasanjo explained that while tax avoidance is legal, tax evasion is both criminal and civic.

In reference to the new book, he said the part he found very interesting in the book, is the explanation of Tax avoidance and Tax evasion.

His words: “If you marry more than one wife, you get tax relieve for additional wife or you have more children, you get tax relieve for having addition children; that is tax avoidance but if you claim you have more than one wife and you have only one wife and you claim you have more than four children and you have only four children; that is tax evasion and you better take note of that.

“There is a lot they can learn, there is a lot they will also need to do for reform and to be able to do and to get as much as they really need to get on government taxes but there is also a lot that need to be done on the uses of taxes they have collected, so that people who are paying taxes can still be a little bit happy that the money they are paying are being highly utilized.”

Lead reviewer of the book, Prof. Abiola Sanni, stressed that taxation was of fundamental importance to nation building. He pointed that the history of tax went back to ancient Egypt and Greece where it became a means of financing war and massive empire expansion.

Sanni said, “When you know how to administer taxes, you know how to develop your country. Nigeria has one of the lowest and poorest GDP tax ratios in the world. Well, we are six per cent, during Baba’s (Obasanjo) time we move from under one per cent to about five per cent, which is a 500 per cent improvement.

“When you compare six per cent tax GDP ratio to 20 per cent in Ghana, 15 per cent in Benin, 18 per cent in Cameroun, 27 per cent in South Africa, 24 per cent in UK, 29 per cent in USA and I think Germany is over 40% you can then understand the serious economy and Physical implication for Nigeria it is actually with the number I have seen the amount of tax we collect is just about sufficient to cover our debt service obligations.”

He urged Nigeria to emulate other countries where taxation grows to fund the provision of public goods and services, which every Nigerian should enjoy.

Author of the book, retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Tunde Ogunsakin, warned Nigeria to embrace taxation as a source of revenue as oil may no longer be dependable.

“As oil continues to dwindle, Nigeria leaders must harness the taxation potentials maximizing the advantage of our huge population and the reduction of tax evasion. Aside solar, electric and electronic inventions as alternatives to oil, Asia recently invented a vehicle that runs on water. By 2025 2030, oil might be obsolete as source of energy and revenue to nations. Only the visionary nations will be able to cope or survive, this is therefore a warning signal to Nigeria to explore taxation as alternation to oil,” he added.

However, Ogunsakin who said he was opportune to serve as a member of the then Federal Government Panel on Education Tax set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to investigate and recover all unpaid Education Tax by companies registered in Nigeria drives his passion to research more in taxation.
“It is hoped that drawing great insight from the expositions in this book will invariably assist us in advancing the course of reducing tax malpractices in Nigeria through voluntary compliance with taxation” he said.



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