By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, to June 30, 2018.
The president explained, Wenesday that the short extension after the original March 31 deadline was based on appeals by professional bodies and individual tax-payers.
In a statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, President Buhari, however, said no further extension of time would be approved after June 30.
He explained that a new date was given, based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance would be attained, and that additional revenue would accrue.
President Buhari further explained that a fresh Executive Order will be made to give legal backing to the new timeline.
He said: “For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world.
Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes must stop
“Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself.
“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potentialities, these must stop.”
The President urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularise.”
He added that the right thing might not be convenient or comfortable “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of.”
President Buhari further urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who failed to regularise their tax status.
He said: “VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to reposition the economy and correct inherited underdevelopment.
“The country has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just six per cent of GDP. This was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw us abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them.
“President Buhari had last year launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, and VAIDS tax amnesty is first in the series of reforms that will transform our tax system and provide sustainable, predictable funding for all tiers of government.
“Tax revenues will ensure that public infrastructure is provided, and public services are funded to improve the lives of the people. Taxes redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less, and VAIDS is one of the windows to achieve such.”