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Group seeks judicious use of taxes in Ekiti

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From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti

A Group, Tax for Service Group in Ekiti State ( TSG_EK), has called on the state government to ensure that tax payers money are used for the growth and development of the state.

The TSG comprises tax payers from the informal sector with representatives from various associations in the state, such as hoteliers association, taylors association, market women, saw millers association, artisans among others,
noted it will ensure tax payers in the state regularly pay their taxes.

The group which consists of a seven-member steering committee to monitor taxes in the state has Prof. Christopher T. Oluwadare as Chairman and Pastor Akin Abimbola as the Secretary

Speaking on behalf of the group’s Chairman , Prof Christopher T. Oluwadare after a two-day stakeholders’ meeting in Ado- Ekiti, Capital of the State ,during its first media engagement on ‘Improving Governance Through Tax For Service in Ekiti State’ organised by New Initiative for Social Development ( NISD) in collaboration with Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room supported by UK International Development, the group’s Secretary, Pastor Akin Abimbola, said the functions of the group include to serve as representatives of Tax Payers even at budgeting, to monitor government activities, to collaborate with the government on tax education, and to collaborate with the government to identify and stop tax leakages.

He said the group’s Code of Conduct include Accountability and Transparency, Non- Partisan and members must not deviate from the aims and objectives of the group.

He also noted the group has outlined some advocacy plans, where it will ensure regular courtesy visits to the government, carry out sensitisation to other groups not represented in the stakeholders’ engagement within Ekiti, engage in periodic stakeholders dialogue, educate and and enlighten members of the public.

Fielding questions from newsmen on whether the informal sector has been paying taxes to the state government and whether the group is satisfied with the way the taxes are being utilised before the media engagement, Abimbola said :

” It is an erroneous believe that the taxes from Ekiti State are from the formal sector alone, a considerable percentage of the taxes have actually been coming from the hoteliers association, the saw millers, the market women, and other associations in the informal sector

” I want to tell you that most of the people who pay tax through the formal sector are indirectly members of this informal sector, they are engaged in one business or the other as a means of surviving. So, we want to be available to ensure that the money that tax payers are paying are judiciously utilised for provision of infrastructure for better and improved tax system.

“We want the government to be very supportive so that we will mobilise and monitor their programmes and projects, we want to believe that much more revenue will be generated through tax.”

On what sanctions await the government if it fails to use tax payers’ money to develop the society and also if the people fail to pay tax, he said: ” That is the essence of this group. The group will ensure that the informal sector pays tax because a good citizen should be a tax payer and payment should be timely. This would be carried out through proper education.

” To the best of our knowledge, the citizens of the state are ready to pay the tax, at the same time they are very ready to see what the government is ready to give back to tax payers and that is the reason we will ensure the government provides the necessary infrastructure.

” And in the event the government does not do that that is the essence of this group, we will call the government out, we will question the government and we will ensure that every detail as being projected in every fiscal year budget is fulfilled.”

The group, however, decried double and multiple taxation by the government, which it said has adversely affected businesses of tax payers in the informal sector.

Abimbola said, ” This group condemns and stands against double, multiple taxation and uncertainties in payment of tax. Let me start with the uncertainty, the informal sector observed that even after the payment of their direct taxes, the withholding tax, government agencies come around to request for what is supposed to be 10 per cent probably from a rentage of a kiosk or a shop from the landlord but what they will be requesting will even be more than the amount of the rent that means there are uncertainties in the way they levied the tax payers, this must be condemned.

” Permit me to tell you about double and multiple taxation. I will take a cue from the hoteliers association where the government was already paid all the 7.5 per cent of all the services being rendered in the hotel to the federal government. The Nigerian constitution provides that the 7.5 per cent if any considerate per cent of it comes back to the state government and part of it to the federal government where as the state government is also coming up again to collect additional 5 per cent aside the 7.5 which will now measure up to 12.5 per cent on the same service, this will have a heavy slap on the masses. The economy will not be too palatable and it is already affecting patronages in some of the business areas. The State government on that consumption tax targets basically the hospitality sector, the hotels, fast-food and event centres and it was specifically stated in that law and we will be there to dialogue with the government against double and multiple taxation to ensure that if you want tax payers to pay let all these grey areas be addressed right from the house of assembly, we will ensure that is done. If the government is able to do that, this group is going to serve as a middle man between the government and our people, to interface with the government, tell our people what we want and what the government expects from us we will give it back to them to ensure that things are going on well. If taxes are paid,then quality projects should also come out from the taxes that are being paid. We condemn outrightly double, multiple taxation, uncertainties and non equity in the payment of taxes.”




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