Nigeria Worried Over W/Africa Tax Agency’s Lack of Financial Security

By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Muhammad Nami has expressed concern over lack of vitality and financial security by West Tax Agency to effectively meet its mandate.

Speaking at the first major stakeholder meeting of the Support Programme for Tax Transition in West Africa (PATF) in Abuja on Thursday, Nami said this lack of vitality and financial security is denying West African countries the much-needed domestic revenue to run their countries.

As a first step, Nigeria wants the 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West States (ECOWAS) to develop an individual national database as well as a regional platform to improve the management of Value Added Tax (VAT) in West Africa.

PATF is made up of tax administrators, Customs and Trade Union organizations of the Economic Community of West States (ECOWAS).

According to Mani, “it is imperative for our countries to have national databases and a regional platform. This indispensable steering body of our consultation system still lacks vitality, as it does not have institutional and financial guarantees”.

He therefore wants PATF to propose innovative, realistic and feasible recommendations stressing that “our various governments are facing health and security difficulties; in this context, they greatly need these results”.

The result Nigeria desires are: for PATF to “commit our community space to move forward in a united manner to develop the technical and professional of the tax and customs administrations, in order to guarantee them a better increase in domestic revenue, following the decline in revenue linked to efforts to improve the free movement of people and goods”.

Nigeria also wants “improvement in the management of VAT in the region. This mission provides an opportunity to have a practical guide for VAT management”. Nami is also demanding for an improvement in “the management of tax expenditures in the region. This mission provides an opportunity to have a regional methodology guide for the evaluation of tax expenditures, the establishment of an information system specific to the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and ECOWAS Commissions”.

Director of Fiscal Affairs and Public Finance at WAEMU, Habbas Traoure noted that the Support Programme for Tax Transition in West Africa (PATF) will help West Africa “fight domestic tax evasion and drive revenue mobilization and fight illicit tax flows”.

Habbas Traoure stated that “since January 2020, experts have started working to provide technical support for 15 member countries and Mauritania”.

“We have had study on VAT and the ECOWAS commission is proud of the result achieved so far and this seminar is proof to show that we are on the right track. This meeting will help us review what has been done and help the actors to brainstorm on the measures to be put in place to address issues affecting taxation in the region” he said.

 On his part, Tiemtore Salifou, Director of Trade, Customs Union (ECOWAS) said the PATF platform now provides “the opportunity to bring together experts in tax in West and elsewhere to discuss topics that mobilize our interest in taxation”.

He urged member countries to “share experiences and move towards moving tax revenue and ensure that international tax standards are implemented”.

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