By Stanley Nwanosike
Enugu, March 24, 2022 A tax expert, Dr Mark Abani, has urged governments at all levels to encourage the public to pay taxes for development by being transparent and accountable to them.
Abani, former Board member of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), gave the advice at the Big Ideas Podium Conference organised by the African Heritage Institution (Afri-Heritage) in Enugu on Thursday.
The Theme of the conference is “Taxation and Accountability: Why should Nigerians Pay Tax?
The expert said that the good use of taxpayers’ money would encourage the public to pay their taxes, adding that it was the responsibility of the government to provide goods and services for the public.
Abani noted that the public could pay and would be highly motivated to pay taxes when they see what it was being used for.
The former FIRS board member called on governments to always make public on how taxes were being used as this would encourage them to pay.
Another keynote speaker, Mr Emmanuel Obeta, a former staff of FIRS, said that Nigerians’ cultural mentality needed to be changed for the country to realise accountability in tax payment.
Obeta said that leaders should be accountable to the public and not to government functionaries, adding that the leaders should not see themselves as rulers but public servants.
He said that extravagance in the country had made it impossible for accountability to have its way in tax payment and administration.
Mr Nnaemeka Eloike, Managing Director of Dometech Farms Enterprise, Enugu said that the country’s law needed to be changed for good.
He added that the immunity clause should be removed from the Constitution as this would help the government to sit up and all classes of people pay their taxes.
Another speaker, Mr Gerald Ugochukwu, said that it was the obligation of the public to pay taxes while the obligation of the government was to provide goods and services.
“Without tax payment, the country will not be administered smoothly and basic amenities would be lacking in the country,” Ugochukwu said.
In a welcome address, the Executive Director of Afri-Heritage, Prof. Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, said that “Nigeria is one of the countries where the issue of tax payment is important but not respected”.
According to him, it appears that the major reason for this is that transparency is poor and accountability is lacking.