THE COMMUNIQUE OF THE PUBLIC PRESENTATION ON REPORT OF BASELINE STUDY ON TAX IN NIGERIA AND THE LAUNCHING OF NATIONAL PLATFORM ON TAX JUSTICE IN NIGERIA AT BOLTON WHITE HOTEL, ABUJA, ON AUGUST 14, 2012
Civil Society organisations in Nigeria at the presentation of a report titled ‘Baseline Study on Tax in Nigeria and Launching of National Platform on Tax Justice’ on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 launched a National Platform on Tax Justice Research and Advocacy with the aim of engaging the government in raising awareness on the need for a just, equitable and efficient Tax System.
The study which was commissioned by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), with support from Oxfam Novib, examined the tax system in Nigeria, paying special attention to relationship between tax, social inequality, resource mobilisation for national development and accountability in governance.
The public presentation of the study and launch of the National platform on Tax Justice which was organised by CISLAC in collaboration with Christian Aid and ActionAid Nigeria held at Bolton White Hotel, Abuja. In attendance were Country Manager of Christian Aid, Jane East; Country Director of ActionAid, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, Representative of Oxfam Novib, Representatives of the Budget Office, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Chartered Institute of Taxation in Nigeria, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Centre for Democracy and Development, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), USAID, Fredreich Ebert Stiftung (FES)Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Centre for Development and Civil Society, Publish What You Pay, Centre for Information and Technology Development. Also present at the occasion are some board members of CISLAC, in the persons of Emma Ezeazu and Mallam Y. Z. Y’au, among others.
A session on the design of term of reference for the platform on Tax Justice was held and chaired by the Chairman of Tax Justice Network Africa from Nairobi-Kenya, Dr. Dereje Alemayehu was held after the formal launch of the platform.
The following Observations were made:
1. That there is little knowledge of Tax issues in the country.
2. There are bottlenecks within the MDAs that need to be reviewed as part of an effective Tax system reform.
3. Tax system in Nigeria is characterised by Tax-gaps, non-filing, under-reporting and under-payment.
4. The dearth of data base and technical staff at the revenue office contribute immensely to the Tax system in the country.
5. Inability of the nation and relevant agencies to adapt international best practices on taxation in the areas of domestic taxations, revenues from natural resources extraction and monitoring of business transactions and declarations of returns by multinational corporations in the country has led to huge revenue loss.
6. There is little involvement of Civil Society and the media in the various attempts at reform in the Tax system in Nigeria.
7. There is insufficient awareness and involvement of citizens in the taxation process and has contributed to the non-existence of active citizenry demanding for accountability from government.
8. There are leakages within the tax system in Nigeria that reduces the amount of actual tax available to finance development and provide service to the citizens.
The Platform Resolved as follows:
1. Awareness creation: The platform agrees that Tax education and Tax awareness creation among citizens at all levels will go a long way in building the knowledge on Tax system.
2. There is urgent need for advocacy, campaign and lobbying for abolition of harmful and regressive tax practices and adoption of pro-poor tax regimes. .
3. Research: there should be further research into tax systems, structures, administration for evidence based engagement. The data garnered will be used for the purpose of advocacy.
4. Build international partnership and collaboration within the West africa sub region and globally to address issues of tax treaties, revenue generation for development purposes and tax as instrument for environment protection.
5. Communication strategy: that partnership and engagement with the media on tax justice in Nigeria is important and will make room for further sensitisation. An interactive website dedicated to issues in taxation, inequality, revenue generation for development purposes will be created.
6. Mobilization of citizens at all levels to develop positive attitudes to tax payment and demanding accountability and service delivery.
7. Tracking of Tax Revenue as key component of domestic resources needed for development.
The platform advocates for a fair, just, transparent and equitable tax system that adequately protects the rights and interests of Nigerian citizens through research, advocacy, partnership and mobilisation. The platform further advocated for a progressive Tax regime that will curb tax evasion and avoidance by multinationals and other corporate bodies as well as the rich. It was resolved that members present should make effort towards expanding the membership of the platform to include other civil society organisations/faith based organisations working on tax reforms/justice. Drawing from the experience of the Tax Justice Network in Africa the platform at the event agreed on some basic term of reference in its engagement with the tax system in Nigeria.
Dr. Hussaini Abdul
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)