Groups unite on fair tax, inaugurate Ondo platform

tax-identification-numberA NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), is engaging sister-groups in the global drive for equity and fairness in taxation. In the pursuit of this objective, it has inaugurated the Ondo State chapter of the Tax, Justice and Governance Platform in Akure.

CISLAC, which has engaged in legislative advocacy since 2005, according to its Senior Programme Officer, Kolawole Banwo, emerged from the need to address the gaps in civil societies’ legislative advocacy work and government’s access to civil society groups, opening a window of interaction for both public and policy officials.

Speaking on the burdens of taxation in the country, the host and Director of Justice, Peace and Development Centre (JPDC), Rev. Fr. Patrick Adebayo, recounted the untoward experiences of tax-payers in the hands of tax-collectors, regretting that there is no holistic approach to the system and faulting its inadequacies.

According to him, 90 per cent of those expected to pay tax and are experiencing the burden are the small-scale enterprises. This, he said, inevitably puts them in great danger of being shut out of business, with its resultant unpalatable socio-economic consequences.

The clergy noted that there is inequality and injustice in the payment of taxes in Nigeria. He also criticized the unpatriotic attitude of Nigerians, especially the landlords, who have numerous buildings and collect huge rent from tenants but do not pay tax on the tenement rates.

Representative of the market women and Iyaloja of Akure, said she had thought the forum does not concern market women and petty traders but later realized that it was put in place to save them from multiple taxation. She lamented that they pay too many taxes to various collectors, who do not even issue them receipts.

However, the CISLAC Senior Programme Officer, Banwo, informed that the international community has come up with a lasting solution to the nation’s present economic problems with its Capacity for Research and Advocacy (CRAFT) initiative.

He insisted on fair taxation across the globe, which is an offshoot of the ongoing campaign globally to ensure that all nations, especially the developing nations, lean on internal survival rather than on foreign aids. Banwo noted that there is discrepancy between government’s expected income through taxes and what is being remitted, and identified as a problem the informal sector, where some big organisations evade taxes.

Nevertheless, he iterated that the platform is mandated to work as bridge between the government and tax-payers and must harp on research, sensitisation and advocacy to ensure collectiveness, honesty, justice, equity and fairness in the system.

He urged the platform to adapt the success stories of other states, where it had negotiated with government on revenue collected from market women on 70-30 per cent ratio, which had seen more persons willingly paying their taxes.

According to him, if the spirit of social contract is adequately utilised through transparency in what is collected and what it is used for, taxation in Nigeria will be a win-situation. Meanwhile, a member of Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue, Bunmi Alade, said the state would do more for the people with more revenue, like consolidate on the Mother and Child Hospital and Free Shuttle Service, among others.

A committee of 10, comprising a member from each organisation, with Mr. Kunle Oyegoke of the Centre for Rehabilitation of Exceptional Persons as chairman, and the Director of Girls to Women Research and Development Centre as secretary, was inaugurated and signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

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