Nigeria has the worst tax payment culture - Minister
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has decried the poor tax payment culture in Nigeria, describing it as one of the worst there is, as only about 20percent of its economically active population pay their tax.
Adeosun while speaking at a sensitisation programme on the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, hosted by the Enugu State Government, said Nigeria had a poor scorecard in tax payment lamenting that only 14 million people were paying taxes out of about 70 million economically active people.
A statement by her Special Adviser on Media, Oluyinka Akintunde, quoted the minister as saying that “payment of taxes is a fundamental requirement for our growth story. Nigeria has a very poor scorecard in tax payment. When oil came, we abandoned the old system of tax collection that provided most of our infrastructure since the colonial days.
“Currently, we have just 14 million taxpayers out of 70 million who are economically active. So, many people who should be paying are not paying anything. It is the development of taxes that will help the states and the Federal Government to achieve their true potential.”
She explained that the payment of taxes had become imperative in order to avoid the repeat of the recent experience of the collapse in oil prices and the resultant recession, adding that predictable tax revenue inflow would lead to more investments in infrastructure and job and wealth creation across the nation.
The minister gave an assurance that the Federal Government would avoid the boom and bust cycle by aligning with nations that had predictable revenues in order to ensure progressive improvements in the quality of life of the citizens.
She recalled that after years of neglect, the Federal Government has revived Federal Road projects including the 9th Mile - Ngwo to Milken Hill to New Market.
“This government has recognized that infrastructure is the key to creating jobs, growth and wealth. We have already released N1.2 trillion in capital so far for the 2017 Budget, which commenced in June 2017 and most of this was applied to roads, bridges, rail, power, our airports and other key infrastructural projects,” Adeosun said.
Speaking on the VAIDS, she disclosed the scheme was initiated to provide the opportunity for taxpayers to regularise their tax status relating to previous tax periods.
She maintained that tax defaulters who failed to take advantage of the VAIDS programme would be subjected to tax investigations as well as made to face criminal prosecution for tax offences.
Governor of Enugu State Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi enjoined all tax payers to take advantage of the VAIDS to regularise their tax liability.