The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has revived it information machinery with regular media invitation and press releases issued on various positive development on tax administration in the country.
The current in creating public awareness on tax matters is remiscience of the period when one Wahab Gbadamosi was Media consultant in the agency.
So far the new helmsman in the Corporate Communication Department (CCD), Emmanuel Obeta who is the current Director, has improved and sustained the tempo on enlightment campaigns on tax administration in Nigeria.
Within a month not only was the agency very visible in the media and public consciousness, their press releases issued to the media are apt and timely.
For instance when the service launched three denominations of commemorative postage stamps, the occasion was well-covered as the event underscored the importance of taxation to national development. The Finance Minister of State, Dr. Lawal Ngama, who launched the stamps commended the FIRS and its partner in the project, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) on their successful collaborative efforts that have culminated in the historic launching of the first ever FIRS commemorative stamps in Nigeria. The Minister added that taxation is a sustainable source of revenue and that would enable Nigeria achieve its developmental goals.
Earlier, the FIRS Executive Chairman, Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, explained that the idea of introducing stamps to convey tax messages for the enlightenment of the tax paying public was conceived in 2009 by three staff of the Service: Tunde Oladapo, Olumide Odesanya and Francis Oliver. She said that the objectives included the promotion of tax advocacy, general enlightenment on tax matters and the benefits of paying taxes as well as enhanced image and mileage for FIRS.
Okauru said ``Following a detailed analysis, Management subsequently welcome and approved the proposal, which was presented to NIPOST for a possible buy-in. A great deal of collaborative efforts resulted in FIRS designing the stamps while NIPOST assumed the responsibility of producing them.’’
She said the Service had evolved well-structured taxpayers education initiatives in order to make Nigerians willingly comply with tax obligations, saying ``These include the endowment of professorial chairs on taxation in Nigerian Universities and Students Tax Advocacy Initiatives (STAI).
The commemorative stamps which are available in N20, N50 and N100 denominations, to the postal service-using public, philatelists, legal practitioners, business enterprises among others remains another step by FIRS to deepen tax culture in Nigeria.
At another forum of advocacy visit to the House Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal at the National Assembly, Mrs Omoigui-Okauru sought the passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which could generate more revenue to the Federation Account. She also solicited the support of the House of Representatives for a wholesome review of tax laws and other related enactment as part of its legislative agenda.
She said: ``We are looking at wholesome review of our tax laws in the spirit of reforming the entire tax administration in the country, most of which are still colonial in rendition thereby making difficult to interpret. Some of these bills which we hope to put in a plain English language to ensure clarity includes Tax Administration Code, Income Tax Amendment, Value Added Tax Amendment, Stamp Duty Amendment, Capital Gain Tax Amendment and constitution amendment.
“We recognize the issues that are still been addressed like the PIB. Given the complexity of the PIB, we salute the hardwork and thoroughness of the work of legislators on the bill. We await the passage of this all important bill, as it is core to our efforts at being part of the efforts to increase the nation’s earnings.
She also urged the leadership of the House and the National Assembly to support the FIRS whenever it comes before it to ratify the tax treaties that were signed with the international organizations.
Speaker Tambuwal gave the assurance that the leadership and members would continue to support and partner with the FIRS efforts to reform tax administration and other revenue agencies in order to enhance revenue generation.
Also at an interactive session with 391 registered contractors to FIRS, the Chairman of FIRS tasked them on the need to ensure adherence with the rules and regulations guiding public procurement process.
She said there was need for good and quality service delivery, professionalism, and high ethical standard in the procurement process among stakeholders. She gave the assurance that FIRS would be fair and just to stakeholders while ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in the award and implementation of contracts.
She also pointed out that the idea of obtaining Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) and payment of taxes by contractors and consultants should not be aimed at winning contracts, but as part of the obligations and civic responsibilities of a good citizen.
With the current tempo of advocacy and sensitization campaigns from the Federal Inland Revenue Service the public would be adequately informed on development in that sector as well as dispel wicked rumour mongering.