Nigeria Economic Summit Group’s Fiscal Policy Roundtable (NESG) has launched its Citizen Perception Report, a first of several research pieces to be published in support of its tax reform and advocacy vehicle ‘Better Tax.’
Launched in Lagos on Wednesday, the citizens perceptions report, which is the product of a nationwide perception survey cutting across households and small businesses in the tax value chain, also tasked government to establish an Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) among other recommendations targeted at demystifying complex provisions in the nation’s tax laws and boosting dwindling revenues from the non-oil sector of the economy.
Dr. Sarah Alade, Chairman, NESG Fiscal Policy Roundtable, said: the core concept of the roundtable was to reflect the needs and objectives that forms the basis of a robust fiscal reform platform focused on mobilising and growing the country’s tax revenue.
“This limits Nigeria’s ability to credibly execute its development plan and fund critical social sector programmes. It also leaves Nigeria very vulnerable to macro-economic shocks from low oil prices.
“The most recent fall in oil prices threw Nigeria into a fiscal crisis with spill-over effects on the economy resulting in a recession in 2016.
“Building a strong revenue base that is balanced between the oil and non-oil sector is therefore critical to sustainably financing Nigeria’s development programme and long-term macro-economic stability”, she said.
According to Alade, data from the Citizen Perception Survey reinforces the appalling level of fiscal responsibility in taxpayer education, which fuels apathy and low morale among taxpayers.
“There is the presumption that the Nigerian citizenry is apathetic to the payment of taxes, which makes the findings of the Citizen Perception Survey crucial.
“The findings show that Nigerians are not averse to taxpaying given proper education and expenditure transparency on the allocation and application of resources by the Government”.
Dr. Doyin Salami, Fiscal Policy Roundtable Co-Chair represented by Mr. Taiwo Oyedele – PWC West Africa Tax Leader, and Research Director, NESG Fiscal Policy Roundtable, said the government had been unable to meet recurrent and capital expenditures following a budget deficit of N3.8 billion and debt profile of N22.7 billion.
Oyedele, who shared evidence-based data from the Citizen Report during his technical presentation at the event, disclosed that “low tax compliance results from tax complexity, crisis of trust in the government and inadequate social contract deliverables; while tax officials were constrained by inconsistent tax policies, limited resources, unrealistic targets, and inability to influence service delivery, among others”.
Citing the date from the Citizens Perceptions Reports, he said that over 70 per cent of Nigerians believed that “it is not wrong to pay taxes”.