Troubled by mounting challenges and paucity of funds in the system, the Plateau State Internal Revenue Service (PSIRS) originates prolific models to shore up corporate finances. CHAMBERLAIN ODEY reports that going forward, PSIRS engaged stakeholders in a round-table discourse on the science of the Smart Revenue System Process (SRSP); maximising taxes on legitimate incomes; and dutiful collation of revenues on the Plateau.
With participants drawn from varied backgrounds, a cream of actors and activists that adorn the state’s business and political community in commanding presence, the bold banner message displayed at the venue was not only awe-inspiring but oozed out compelling authority: “Pay your tax to develop Plateau State”.
In his welcome address, Executive Chairman, Plateau State Internal Revenue Service, Dashe Arlat Dasogot, was quick to inform his august audience that the event was the third time out. He captured and underscored the event as a “platform for a productive exchange of ideas and rich interactions between the Internal Revenue Service and its stakeholders.” For him, “the ultimate goal is for all to agree on the pathway to better internally generated revenue collection, in order to promote the socio-economic development of Plateau state”.
With the theme: “Democratising tax collections and expanding the tax base for socio-economic prosperity”, the dialogue leveraged on the background of a recessionary economy; worrying trend of dwindling Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) among states of the federation; and discovery that the downward trend was predicated on poor tax administration as well as inappropriate fiscal governance.
According to Dasogot, the theme was contextualised and chosen “in order to consolidate on some of the resolutions that were unanimously adopted during the various interactions”, even as he hinged the significance of the round table talk on “Nigeria’s current recession challenge (which) has induced a great deal of stress on individuals and business”.
Emphasizing why innovative and effective tax collection regulations and controls must be in place, Dasogo also painted a regrettable picture of statutory allocations and IGRs, which are constantly less than allocation received from the federation account. “Within the public sector”, Dasogot maintained that, “a number of state governments have struggled to stay afloat, and many of them have taken critical and bold steps, aimed at improving their internally generated revenue. In spite of these efforts, the truth remains that federal allocation for many of the states in Nigeria still exceed internally generated revenue”.
In acknowledging that this “is a dangerous situation indeed; which has continued to negatively affect all aspects of development in the polity”, Dasogot however said Plateau state has already set machinery in motion to depart from this festering ugly status quo. Hear him: “For us in Plateau state, the government has confronted the situation headlong”.
The PSIRS boss said this is implemented through “very bold, visionary, people-centered policies being pursued by this administration to mitigate the economic slowdown and ameliorate the hardship faced by the people”. Providing further insights into innovative tax drive and policy adjustments towards improved results and SRSP’s execution, Dasogot said: “We recognize that the 21st century has created competitive environments for managers in the public and private sectors. But just as the private sector has increasingly managed ground-breaking profitable operations, there is a need for public managers to also demonstrate productivity in practical terms”.
Further illuminating SRSP’s innovation, Dasogot declared that, “through the deliberate implementation of some recommendations from previous editions of these roundtable engagements, we identified the recommendation for the Service to ‘exploit the use of technology in ensuring better levels of compliance among constituents, many of whom have gone underground or have been emboldened to devise crafty ways of avoiding their statutory responsibility”.
Highlight of the event was Governor Simon Lalong’s unveiling of SRSP and he used the opportunity to commend the State Internal Revenue Service for its resolve in improving the State’s IGR profile; maintaining standards; and adhering to global best practices in the administration of public finances.
Lalong urged the Revenue agency to continuously maintain high ethical and moral standards, even as he hopes that, like the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the new Smart Revenue regime will bring about more transparency, accountability, and improved turn over in internally generated revenue of the state.
With the SRSP unveiled and put into operational use, Dasagot said, the “system will put the Service ahead in terms of ease of collection of taxes and other receipts, (and that) the system, especially creates a seamless procedure for tax payer enumeration, registration, and the generation of tax identification numbers”, adding that the technology “is a direct improvement on the elements of convenience, flexibility, and promptness for tax payers”.
Another key point of the event was the keynote address by Haggai Gutap, Director General, Plateau State Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency. The presentation dwelt extensively on the general business environment; especially existing opportunities to set up and successfully run a business in the State, with its rich agricultural background and demo-diversity.
Of interest to the audience was Gutap’s revelations that among other wasted opportunities and causes of shortfall in IGR, Plateau state has been losing a whopping 250 million Naira every week since the Jos Main market got burnt fifteen years ago.
Ultimately, the PSIRS’ leadership hopes the new revenue system will harmonise and simplify tax payer’s accessibility as well as the tax collection process. According to the Agency’s Chief, “with full implementation of the TSA in the state, this new technology will, no doubt, help MDAs to also harmonise their payment processes and platforms”.