By Tony Obiechina, AbujaAbuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed hon Friday inaugurated a 20 – member Steering Committee (Project Lighthouse) to boost the nation’s revenue drive.
The Steering Committee which is to being chaired by the minister, has the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the ministry, Dr Mohammed K. Dikwa, as the deputy chairman.
The Presidential Initiatives for Continuous Audit (PICA) and Department of Technical Services in the Ministry will serve as the secretariat of the Project Lighthouse.
ln her inaugural address, the minister pointed out that one of the key economic policy objectives of the current administration, as contained in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), is improving overall Federal Government revenues by targeting and increasing revenues from non-oil sources.
According to her, in the last few months, major steps have been taken to address chronic revenue challenges, one of which include the launch of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives (SRGI).
The minister noted that following the ratification of Project Lighthouse at Federal Executive (FEC) on Wednesday 9th May, 2019, the ministry has entered into a post-VAIDS or Phase 2 of the Project.
“However, this time around, Project Lighthouse is being positioned as a ‘single source of truth’ for revenue and tax related intelligence that will support the Ministry, its agencies, revenue agencies, tax authorities and other stakeholders to be better positioned to address the revenue challenges we are facing”, she added.
Ahmed stressed that in this phase of Project Lighthouse, “we will be using Big Data analytics, date sciences and related technologies to gather and analyse financial data and revenue related data from multiple but related sources. We would also use the sophisticated date analysis tools to ‘connect the dots’ between different data sets”.
The terms of reference of the Steering Committee include, provide strategic direction for the Project; serve as the source of the data required to populate the Project Lighthouse Platform; assist the Ministry of Finance with relevant data/information on mining of information of tax payers and revenue value chain; review of technical aspects of the Project and report on the progress of the project to relevant stakeholders.
While urging stakeholders to put in their best to ensure the successful implementation of the initiative, the Minister said, “we can drastically change our revenue story by fully and innovatively exploiting the great power of Big Data Analytics, Data Science and related technologies.”
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary Special Duties, Dr Dikwa, said the Project Lighthouse, is part of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives, which according to him is the policy initiative of the current Minister of Finance as measures to boost revenues in line with the provisions of the Constitution, the Fiscal Responsibility Act and other associated laws.
He noted further that the Project Lighthouse will be a platform that will help the Ministry gather information from both the formal and informal sectors for the purpose of boosting internal generated revenues to adequately fund the budget.
Members of the Steering Committee include, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Joint Tax Board (JTB), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Others are, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Special Presidential Initiatives on Recovery of Public Properties (SPIRPP), Permanent Secretary Finance (PSF), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).