From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Actionaid Nigeria has identified the under utilisation of taxes in the areas of infrastructure, security and governance as reasons most Nigerians evade tax remittances.
The Governance Manager for Actionaid Nigeria, Celestine Okwudili Odoh, stated this at a 2-day national tax summit organised by the Tax Justice and Governance Platform (TJ&GP), yesterday in Abuja.
Regardless, Odoh urged citizens to always pay taxes and, also, encouraged government to judiciously untilise tax collected so as to charge citizens to fulfill their civil responsibility.
“We are campaigning for people to pay a fair share of taxation starting from the corporations. We have the nationals, multinationals and we also have those hiding in the informal sector.
“It is not just about paying tax; it is about government utilising the tax revenue by providing social amenities for the people.
“If you look at the theme of the summit, it talks about public finance and accountability. So, government needs to hold public resources on trust and we expect to account for the utilisation of the resources.
“Nobody is taking government to court; it is about partnering with government. The thing is that government should be able to put up mechanisms to ensure compliance to avoid compromise that would lead to forfeiture of revenue and to close up leakages.
“We do not want resources to be sneaked away. Globalisation is also there which makes it difficult to track digital transactions.
“There is an amendment on how it should be done globally and Nigeria should be part of it.
“Government should be able to name and shame tax evaders. We are creating that space and engaging with the government and multinationals.
“Aside non-compliance, we also have illicit financial flows from Africa. Previously, Thabo Mbeki had said over $50 billion was leaving Africa annually but it is more than that today,” he submitted.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Victor Muruakor, expressed worry over citizens’ reservation to do the needful, adding that even those who do, cheat the system.
Muruakor lamented poor handling of government projects sited in communities, saying rural dwellers care less about those projects but hold gingerly the ones they contributed money to build.
“Even corporate organisations find it very easy to circumvent the means of paying after declaring so much dividends.
“In order to remit their taxes to government, they find a way to subsume profits so that would not pay government such tax.
“The curious thing is that the same people who delight in taxing themselves to make personal donations towards churches, village organisation and community development for hefty projects that take time to complete, surprisingly find it difficult to give part of their income as taxes to government but wait for government to provide certain things,” he said.
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