FULL TEXT SPEECH BY EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL INLAND REVENUE SERVICE (FIRS) AT THE 2017 LAGOS INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR.

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 All Protocols duly observed.

We at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are delighted to be here with you today as we mark our FIRS Day just as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry hosts her 37th International Trade Fair. Being the premier Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria, we are aware of all your laudable activities in supporting business, trade and industry in Nigeria through policy advocacy, trade mission and advisory services for your members and various other stakeholders. We are also aware that you have partnered with tax administrations in many ways, helping to spread the mantra of responsible citizenship while challenging the government to be accountable to the peoplein the way and manner tax revenue is being spent.

 

Nigeria has endured a severe economic downturn over the last two years, but as the country is gradually emerging  from recession, Governments at the Federal and State levels are focusing  energy and scarce resources towards reversing the negative impact of the recession on businesses via targeted tax and fiscal policies and other actions aimed at reinvigorating the business environment.

The theme you have chosen for the Lagos International Trade Fair this year, “Promoting industrialization for economic recovery and sustainable growthis timely and further illustrates the alignment between Government and various stakeholders in the Nigeria Project. In developing this year’s theme, the LCCI would have recognized Lagos as the strategic epicentre around which the growth of the nation’s commerce and industry revolves, thus the focused outreach to  industrialized nations and investors to this Fair which covers key sectors such as mining, real estate, oil and gas, ICT and agriculture with a particular focus on exports. To move from absolute dependence on oil to growth of the non-oil sector, attracting both entrepreneurs and investors to boost growth, jobs and revenue, it is critical to provide the information, resources and supporting structures that will enable successful execution of the national economic recovery and growth plan.

 

On our part, we are working hard to ensure that the FIRS is in full alignment with all efforts to grow national revenue from taxation while easing the administrative burdens inherent. There are in existence several incentives contained in tax-related laws that can benefit various types of businesses and we have also undertaken the following to lighten the burden of taxationon taxpayers, individuals and corporate    bodies;

  1. With an eye on future developmental needs, we supported the changes introduced by the Revised National Tax Policy
  2. Working under the auspices of the Joint Tax Board, we continue to advocate for the simplification, harmonization and streamlining of processes, levies and taxes at the State and Local Government levels.
  3. We also reviewed our operational guidelines,in fulfilment of one of Adam Smith’s Canons of Taxation suchthattax payers can now file tax returns online and/or at any of our offices that is convenient for them and also pay taxes from the comfort of their homes.
  4. We created a Department within the FIRS known as the Federal Engagement & Enlightenment Tax Team (FEET) to drive public awareness and engagement campaigns. This department is anchoring our participation in this Fair and directly engages the business community, stakeholders and the general populace in order to increase tax awareness and compliance
  5. Under the direction of the Honourable Minister for Finance, we at FIRS along with all SBIRS are encouraging businesses and individuals to take advantage of the Voluntary Assets & Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) – a time-limited opportunity for taxpayers to tidy up their tax positions without fear of criminal prosecution or investigation. We urge you all to take advantage of this especially as the scheme begins to wind down this December.
  6. Our participation in the Presidential Ease of Doing Business Council project resulted in several changes to our operations in a bid to make compliance easier for tax payers and thus contributing to the significant upward leap of Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank records.
  7. We have deployed 6 online solutions (e-stamp duty, e-receipt, e-filing, e-registration and e-TCC) and are currently working on the full deployment of tax software designed to enable swift processing of data, all to improve the quality of service to taxpayers

 

It is our earnest belief that these progressive steps will boost the voluntary compliance rate and eventually result in steady growth in revenue available for national advancement.  Further, we acknowledge that the challenges and opportunities revealed by our economic situation require new, creative innovations and to this end, we have adopted engagement, collaboration and the technology as key facets of our approach to seize these opportunities and address such challenges. It is our expectation that the vibrant, vocal Lagos business community will regularly interact with us, share thoughts on how we can ensure that we make taxation the pivot of development at all levels of government. We invite you to visitour stand,which is at Hall 4 at the Trade Fair grounds. The visitation willenable you to obtain information, register your business and get a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), and you will also be able to resolve any doubtful issues you may have regarding taxation. We are here to serve you and lessen the pains of doing business.

Once again, we congratulate the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on yet another successful outing of your annual Trade Fair and wish you a pleasant and fruitful participation. Thank you for listening and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Babatunde Fowler

Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service


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