By Laja Thomas
In order to overcome poverty and promote infrastructural development, state governments in Nigeria have been advised to strengthen their revenue generation and to some extent, fiduciary risk mitigation in order to achieve good governance.
This was stated by Mr. Sina Fagbenro-Byron, South-West Regional Coordinator, Department for International Development, DFID, an arm of the British Government at a workshop tagged: South-West Economic Forum on Internal Generated Revenue in Lagos.
According to Mr. Fagbenro-Bryon “the objectives of the workshop are to identify strategic ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for internal revenue generation within the government system in the various states; examine their potentials or capacity for income generation; establish their current status with reference to IGR generation in their respective states; given their current status, determine their present challenges that affect their optimal performances; produce a draft report for presentation at the economic forum of the stakeholders, among others.
Continuing, he said, “The workshop hope to provide a working day forum where public officials, working under guidance of selected resource persons (the consultants) shall lay out measures for increasing IGR; critically evaluate structure of industry in each state and what such structures translate to in terms of opportunities for IGR; examine how government can grow industry to become sustainable source of income in a principal- agency relationship that is conducive for symbiotic relationship between government and industry; evaluate implications of alternative measures of public finance and debt management on revenue and expenditure independence of sub-national governments; examine South-West regional best practices in light of challenges facing IGR and public expenditure managements of states; explore options for reducing dependence of states in the South-West on Federally collected revenue as well as reducing financial pressure on the states.
Adding that, “it is publicly acknowledged that the manner of generation and distribution of oil revenue has helped to estrange the government from the people. Therefore, the workshop will explore ways of using IGR policies of government to increase affinity between the people and government as we link taxes, revenue and service delivery.”
Also speaking at the occasion, the Executive Chairman, Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue, LIRS, Mr. Tunde Fowler, in a paper titled: “Repositioning the Internal Revenue Service, IRS, for efficient Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, Harnessing-Lagos State Experience,” said, “The key indicator to achieve effective and efficient taxation is the political will, which the Lagos stage government has demonstrated through the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, noting the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu initiated the Lagos State reform on IGR in 1999, which has yielded positive results.”
Continuing, he said, “What has been achieved in Lagos State can be replicated in other states in Nigeria, especially South-West States because they share similar culture in IGR and other sectors of the economy, lamenting that most states rely solely on federal allocation,” saying that “as the federal allocation decreases, the revenue base of these states are put in jeopardy. According to him, “In the case of Lagos State, “the IGR has a direct coloration with the budget size. What is require is the political will on the part of governments and an effective tax reform to improve the IGR.
Present at the workshop were Mr. Kehinde Sogunle, Ogun State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ade Ipaye, Special Adviser to Lagos Governor on Taxation, Mr. Steven Amah, a legal luminary and representatives from Osun, Oyo Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara States.