By Emeka Mamah
The Kaduna state government says its internally generated revenue will hit about N6.7 billion at the end of this month.
The Executive Chairman, Kaduna State Board of Internal Revenue, Alhaji Ahmed Jibril, who made this known, said that the board has made progressive increase in its internally generated revenue since the inception of the administration of Governor Mohammed Namadi Sambo with N4.8 billion in 2007 from the figure of N2.6 billion in 2006.
In an interview with reporters in Kaduna ,Jibril attributed the development to certain innovations as well as the blockage of loopholes through which staff had collaborated with tax payers to defraud the government.
He however denied reports that state governments plan to increase taxes adding that the recent meeting of governors on the matter was to examine ways to empower their tax authorities so that they can improve on internally generated revenue through improvement in efficiency and not increase taxes.
â€œThis is the first time in the history of Nigeria that governors would meet to discuss taxation due to the economic meltdown. The easy money we used to get from Abuja is no longer forthcoming.
â€œThat is why the governors decided to look inwards and see how they can generate more revenue to meet their demands. All of us grew up to meet the oil boom and we have never given any serious attention to taxation. Due to the problem in the oil sector, we have to look inwards.
Since the inception of this administration in Kaduna state, the governor has done a few things to enable us take more serious action on the private sector. We have instituted what we call self-assessment.
â€œWe are only used to receiving oil money from government. What we have been doing in the last two years is to enlighten the people on taxation and the benefits. We have also instituted a transparent tax collection system.
â€œIn the past, people used to bring cash or cheques to us but we no longer collect cheques or cash. We ask you to go to the bank and pay through what we call the Pay Direct System.
We have partnered with all the banks in Nigeria so that anywhere you are, you just walk into the bank and say you want to pay tax to the Kaduna state revenue board and you will be given a form to fill and you pay your tax.
â€œThe transaction will show directly on my desk and the Governor too has a system on his table for him to see the payments as they come in. So, people are now confident that whatever they pay goes directly into the account of government and this has encouraged more people to pay unlike in the past when they believed that what they pay does not get to government.
â€œThe system is transparent and people are happy. So, you just walk into any bank and pay your tax and the system generates an e-receipt and you can come to the board to collect the original receipt.
â€œDespite the economic meltdown, due to some of these things we have put in place, we have been able to improve on our collection.
â€œIn 2006, we made a collection of N2.8 billion. In 2007, it jumped to N4.8 billion and last year we had N5.3 billion. This year, 2009, we have already generated N5.5 billion out of an estimated sum of N6.7 billion. We hope to hit the target before the end of the year.
In the five years before the coming of this administration, we never went beyond N2 billion, that is between 2003 and 2006, we were hovering between N2 billion and N2.6 billion. You can see that in two years we have almost doubled our collections.
Government has approved a little bonus, performance bonus for the staff. The staff is better paid than the ordinary civil servant.
â€œSo, anybody caught in fraudulent acts will be dealt with thoroughly because government has adequately provided for them. Government has also provided vehicles.
Last time government gave us 10 brand new vehicles. So, all our offices have vehicles and motorcycles and we are trying to connect all of them to the internet by next year so that tax payers will be able to sit in the comfort of their offices and homes and pay their taxes through the internet.
â€œThe tax man is always a target from all angles. Even the government would tell you that you are not collecting enough; the public would say that you are overtaxing them and your friends and family would say you do not give them money in spite of being the chairman of the revenue board where they think easy money flows. For us to have doubled our collections in two years, then you know that we must have stepped on many toes.
Nigerians do not like paying taxes and we force them to pay, so, we expect criticisms. We put in a place a number of internal controls,â€ he said.