The Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has tasked citizens of commonwealth countries including Nigerians to pay their taxes so as to have morale justification to hold governments accountable on implementation of development programmes.
The President, who spoke at a meeting of 46-member countries of Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA), urged the tax administrators to educate the citizens of their respective countries on the need to pay their taxes to finance development projects.
President Jonathan said: “As you deliberate on the technical issues of taxation, remember that your activities are meant to provide the governments of your respective nations and by extension their people, strong foundations for nurturing democratic and stable governments and also about strong and viable economies. We know that commonwealth nations are not only bound by a common history, but also have common economic ties.
He therefore urged participants to see themselves as ambassadors for the development of the economies of their countries. “As tax administrators, it is your duty to remind your citizens that payment of taxes fosters democracy, accountability and participatory Government, as it provides an avenue for citizens to contribute to the common purse and hold their leaders accountable for the management of national resources,” he said.
The President, whose address was read by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, stressed that even though Nigeria had been confronted with many challenges in the last 50 years of its independence, but it had recorded many significant developments cutting across political, social and economic spheres.
Dr. Jonathan enumerated some of the reforms so far achieved in the nation’s tax system such as the development and adoption of National Tax Policy, the development of a national Unigue Taxpayer Identification System and the proposed project for the creation of the Integrated Tax Administration System.
He assured Government’s commitment towards providing the necessary conditions and support required by the tax authorities in Nigeria to make taxation the bedrock of the Nigerian economy and a major sustainable source of government revenue.
Earlier in an address, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Olusegun Aganga recalled that CATA established in 1977 by a meeting of Commonwealth Ministers of Finance was a visionary step which has contributed substantially to the development of tax administration among member countries.
He noted that the conference which has as its major issues of discussion focusing on Exchange of information (domestic and international) and the taxation of specialized sectors could not have come at a more auspicious time in view of increasing globalization and continuous removal of virtual and actual borders.
Also, while welcoming the CATA delegates to the conference, the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru noted that the association has lived up to its founding creed and member countries had immensely benefited from it, adding that the technical session affords members to deliberate on critical issues affecting tax administration in member countries and make far reaching resolutions.
She said that as Nigeria is one of the oldest members of CATA, “whatever positive deliberations that are carried out in the technical conference will have far reaching effects on the 140 million Nigerians that we represent in CATA.”
She said that it was an honour for Nigeria to host the conference in the month of the celebration of the golden jubilee independence anniversary. According to her whatever positive deliberations that are carried out in the technical conference will have far-reaching effects on the over 140 million Nigerians.
She said,”We have assembled every year for over three decades to reaffirm our faith in the vision of the founding fathers, who recognised and acted on their conviction about the pivotal position of tax administration in the socio-economic development of our nations.
”Without any doubt, CATA has lived up to its founding creed and member countries have immensely benefited from membership of the organisation. The technical conference has always provided an avenue for member countries to deliberate on critical issues affecting tax administration in member countries and make far reaching resolutions.”
She added: ”As we seek to move our economy from mono-product revenue into one in which taxation plays a pivotal role in economic development, we will need all the skill and expertise we can get.
”Without a doubt, the Nigerian government and people have made significant progress in developing our tax system and administration to the level that it is today. However, there is still work to be done and we believe that conferences of this nature can only add value to the system.”
CATA, established in 1977, is reputed to be the largest association of taxmen in the world offers its members the opportunities for training and to compare notes on global best practices in tax administration.