A private sector Think-Tank, NESG, is launching 'Better Tax' initiative - evidence-based advocacy to reshape tax perception and expand the country's revenue base

Dr. Sarah Alade, Former deputy governor at CBN and Chairman (NESG) Fiscal Policy Roundtable
  • Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), a private sector Think-Tank, is launching Better Tax initiative.
  • “Better Tax” is evidence-based advocacy that brings together the Nigerian government and citizens to make taxation work for the country’s socio-economic development.
  • Dr Sarah Alade, Chairman, NESG Fiscal Policy Roundtable, says "Better Tax" adopts a multi-pronged approach to easing the tax burden.

In order to educate Nigerians on the importance of tax, re-orientate and expand revenue base for the country, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), a private sector Think-Tank, says it is launching Better Tax initiative – evidence-based advocacy for the country’s socio-economic development.

The initiative which is set for scheduled for launch in Lagos on May 15, is a product of the NESG’s Fiscal Policy Roundtable’s commitment to building a globally competitive Nigerian economy through fiscal consolidation that impacts the citizenry and drives holistic national development.

The group will also unveil findings of its nationwide survey on tax perception in order to drive government-citizen engagement for sustainable fiscal reforms.

Dr Sarah Alade, Chairman, NESG Fiscal Policy Roundtable, said, “Project Better Tax is distinct from previous tax reform initiatives because it adopts a multi-pronged approach to easing the tax burden. The project leverages the findings of nationwide surveys to cascade information on Nigeria’s current fiscal position in a concise manner designed to educate stakeholders on the role of taxation, and the dual responsibility of citizens and the government to actualise the social contract envisaged through strict tax compliance and fiscal responsibility as obtains in developed economies.

According to NESG, “Better Tax” is evidence-based advocacy that brings together the Nigerian government and citizens to make taxation work for the country’s socio-economic development.

With an overall objective of setting a tax reform agenda, the initiative will create a platform for discourse between government and the citizenry that will reshape tax perception. It is expected to transform tax from being perceived as a burden to a tool for socio-economic development.

Better Tax sets a radically different tax reform agenda for Nigeria that is impactful and proffers evidence-based solutions to address the twin-problem of low tax morale and compliance that Nigeria continues to grapple with. The research component of “Better Tax” is holistic and cuts across the six geopolitical zones. It includes all stakeholders across the tax revenue value chain such as the government, taxpayers and tax officials. The overarching objective of the project is to drive mutual collaboration and action among all stakeholders which will, in turn, see Nigeria transform its tax strategy and grow its revenue significantly in record time,” the private Think Tank said in a statement.

Experts have long advocated a refocus on the non-oil sector of the Nigerian economy following the 2014 crash in global oil prices. Reinforcing this argument, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairman Babatunde Fowler disclosed that the non-oil sector outpaced the oil sector with a 54% contribution to the N5.32 Trillion revenue generated in 2018.

Aligned with this development, the government has set a policy priority to significantly boost the share of non-oil revenue by 2020. However, Nigeria’s low tax compliance levels thwart the realisation of this revenue mobilisation objective. In 2018, FIRS disclosed that about 6,772 billionaire businesses in Nigeria do not pay tax, adding that this category of organisations have between N1 billion and N5 billion turnover in their accounts, but had no Tax Identification Number (TIN). A whopping 57 million Nigerians are economically active, but the vast majority are not registered to pay Personal Income Tax.

Experts expected at the event include Chairman (NESG) Fiscal Policy Roundtable Dr Sarah Alade; and Co-Chair (NESG) Fiscal Policy Roundtable Dr Doyin Salami. The event will also feature a panel discussion on "Making Taxation work for Nigeria" Issues, Solutions and Priorities; Panellists include the President Manufacturing Association of Nigeria; Engr. Ahmed Mansur, Executive Director Enough is Enough Nigeria Ms Yemi Ademolakun amongst others.

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