Stakeholders in the public and private sectors, academia, civil society groups and the media have called for the harmonisation of all tax laws in the Federation. They believe this would allow for a more innovative way of taxation that will avoid duplicity and multiplicity in collection of taxes across the three tiers of government in the country. The call is contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day dialogue on Fiscal Governance and Economic Resilience in Nigeria. The dialogue was organised by the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn-(PERL), a UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)-funded governance programme in Nigeria. They suggested that the Centralisation of the entire database linked to the National Identity Numbers of citizen on taxation will be domiciled with the tax authority. The stakeholders believe this would allow government have real time intelligence on the economic status of citizens and for planning purposes.
The stakeholders also said that the need to reinvent Nigeria’s fiscal governance will require complementary reforms to strengthen formulation and execution of the budget. They said “The use of consultants in the tax regime which is detrimental to national revenue drive, and so there is need to institute a vibrant revenue generation drive by public institutions instead of using consultants, saying there is the need for synergy and coordination among government agencies in fiscal governance in the implementation of the major frameworks. According to them, “Innovative fiscal policies administration is required in tackling under-performing or performing revenue generation mechanism of the agencies at both national and sub-national levels. This is key in effective fiscal governance in Nigeria.” They added that a public financial management reforms that would have a greater impact on transparency and accountability would be needed. They further said that there is the need for an integrated revenue architecture at the national and subnational levels working independently to enhance revenue drive in the robust fiscal governance of Nigeria.
The role and absolute independence of Legislative Oversight, Public Account Committee (PAC) and the Auditor General of the Federation, is sacrosanct in effective fiscal governance in Nigeria. The stakeholders stated that there was also the need for urgent legislation to guarantee the independence of Auditor General of the Federation to enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability at all levels of governments. They noted that capacity building among public officials in the preparation and implementation of fiscal governance strategic frameworks, especially at the sub-national level is important to re-energize the fiscal governance in Nigeria.“The adoption of bottom-up approach, instead of the current top-down method in the preparation of the budget/MTEF should be encouraged, as that will not only enhance citizen’s engagement but also serve as enlightenment on the expected role of government to the citizens. Services that are meant for the states should be removed from Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List for the purposes of a harmonious tax regime between the national and sub-national levels of government.
They suggested the need for a strong fiscal governance system that requires strong fiscal rules and institutions, supported by measures that will strengthen the quality of spending in order to address corruption, transparency and accountability,’’ The stakeholders further said key sectors, such as agriculture, information and communication technology, construction and transportation being the main drivers that facilitated the nation’s recovery from recessions, require more investments that will transform economy. “And put in place a mechanism for the generation of data and evidence to support fiscal policy reforms that will improve government revenue and expenditure systems; as well as enthrone measures to maintain micro-economic stability such as reducing inflation, implementation of foreign exchange management system.”The stakeholders noted that the system will improve inflow of Foreign Direct Investment, thereby address the issue of funding government projects budgets; putting public service delivery at the centre of public finance management.
They said that the aim of the event is to provide a platform for leaders to brainstorm on the many contending issues of fiscal governance and to recommend actionable policy options for policy makers and practitioners. It was also to initiate a public discourse around fiscal federalism and economic resilience among the citizenry to influence policy decisions within government at the national and sub-national levels. (NAN)