From PHILIP IKPONKO (Abuja) -The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Secretariat has expressed its commitment to playing more active roles in supporting the 36 States of the Federation to boost their internally generated revenue (IGR) capabilities.
Director-General of the NGF, Asishana Okauru who announced this in Abuja on Monday disclosed that already, the few steps so far taken by the Secretariat were already yielding positive results, adding that despite the recession, 23 States in the country recorded overall growth of 20% in internally generated revenue (IGR) last year – from N687 billion in 2015 to N821 billion in 2016.
Okauru, who noted that this growth was far up from a 3% contraction recorded previously, pledged that the NGF Secretariat would continue to explore other areas in public financial management.
The Director-General was speaking at the opening of the 2017 IGR National Peer Learning Event in Abuja with the theme, “Achieving Effective Tax Administration.”
He attributed the development to the few steps so far taken by the NGF Secretariat to provide a level playing field for States to share practical and effective measure of boosting revenue generation in the country.
“Over the course of the year, we have played a more active role and have made significant inroads through our IGR Dashboard and HelpDesk programmes to provide technical assistance to States. This event is the third component of the framework in which these programmes stand – peer learning – the basis for agenda setting and prioritization of reform actions. Governors now receive regular briefings based on evidence and recommendations from the Boards of Internal Revenue,” he said.
According to Okauru, the 2017 IGR National Peer Learning Event which marked another milestone for the NGF, was a follow-up from the last learning event in 2015 which brought over 120 delegates from the 36 States.
“Today’s even will bring together lessons since our last learning event, by combining the findings of our work and experiences from states. It is also an opportunity for us to disseminate some of the knowledge resources our teams have put together, based on their interactions with states, including guides and checklists to support the implementation of reforms and process changes,” he explained.
He noted that in recent times, a number of states had recorded landmark reforms that are leading to significant improvements in revenue generation.
“Major reforms implemented have targeted the use of technology to revolutionize collection and remittance systems, the implementation of the Joint Tax Board presumptive tax regime, the review and update of rates and charges, and the institutionalization of Revenue Boards,” he said.
“For instance, State-level MDA laws have been developed in Kaduna (where there was a focus on autonomy of the State Board of Internal Revenue) and in Kano (where there was a focus on strengthening MDA operations and streamlining rates and charges). Cross River and Kano have also reviewed their tax policies to promote voluntary compliance. As these laws develop, models for harmonised tax laws have also emanated to address issues of tax distortions and double taxation. In Benue State, there is a real time Dashboard that monitors the flow of remittances. These are commendable practices, and we are already seeing the results,” Okauru said.
He thanked the NGF’s partners, particularly the Department for International Development’s PERL programme, the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “for buying into our vision and for their ongoing work in bringing reforms to states.”
Through the support from these partners, Okauru said the NGF Secretariat now has an opportunity to strengthen the reform environment, by replicating these reforms across other states.
There were goodwill messages from the Executive Chairman , Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler; Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics, Yemi Kale; Country Director of the World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud and; Head of DFID in Nigeria, Ben Mellor.