The minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has launched the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) in Enugu with an appeal to tax payers to comply before March 31, this year, warning that there would be a crackdown with possible loss of assets for defaulters.
The minister said VAIDS is a time-limited opportunity for tax payers to regularise their status relating to previous tax periods.
She explained that tax payers were expected to honestly declare their previously undisclosed assets and income within the period. Members of the public who complied will neither be sanctioned nor subject to paying the interest that would have accrued, she said.
Adeosun stated that tough decisions needed to be made to set the country’s economy on the path of progress, noting that, “henceforth, there would not be any hiding place for tax evaders. I advise every Nigerian to pay their taxes. I want to urge us all to take advantage of VAIDS to support ourselves and government in building this country”.
According to her, Nigeria had poor tax record with a mere 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in tax returns. She added that successful countries had efficient tax systems. She explained that out of the 70 million economically viable Nigerians, only 14 million were paying taxes and may not be paying the correct amount
The Minister was of the view that “if we are serious about building this country, we must embrace efficient taxation. We must make sure that we collect and deploy taxes effectively.”
She said the current administration had made remarkable progress in fixing the economy through well thought out schemes, adding that there were clear signals that the economy was on the path of growth and recovery after the recession as infrastructure deficits were being fixed.
“When we came into power in 2015, N19 billion was allocated to road construction but in 2016, we increased it to N220 billion and a total of N1.2 trillion had already been released for capital votes,” she remarked.
In his speech, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State commended the federal government for the initiative as it would increase government’s revenue collection.
He disclosed that Enugu State government had made substantial progress in its tax returns in the past one year, explaining that his administration spent over N40 billion in the construction of 240 kilometres of roads between 2015 and 2018.
Governor Ugwuanyi noted that the government also spent N2.7 billion in fixing federal roads within the same period, adding that grassroots projects worth N200 million had been completed in each local government area of the state.
The governor said his administration had constructed 46.9km feeder roads in agrarian communities to support farmers and food production in the state, saying more than 4000 public school teachers have also been employed “to make Enugu State among the first four most developed states in the country by 2020”.
He disclosed that federal agencies in Enugu State are owing the state government over N14 billion in unpaid taxes, appealing to the minister of finance to help the state recover the huge sums.
Earlier, the chairman of the Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue, Mr. Emeka Odo, attributed the success recorded by the state government in tax collection to the impact of the community tax liaison officers deployed to the state from Abuja. He said they were posted to the 17 local government areas of the state to assist in sensitizing the public on the need to pay their taxes. Odo said their presence in the state has yielded fruit as the IGR witnessed a tremendous increase.