Source: The Guardian
Mr. Akin Ambode, the Lagos State accountant-general has said that the state's N152 billion internally generated revenue (IGR) target in the 2008 budget was feasible.
Ambode told journalists recently after a stakeholders' meeting on revenue at Ikeja that the various strategies put in place by the state government and the experience of the past would enable it meet the target.
He said the state achieved 72 per cent of its target in the outgoing year.
In attendance were the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mrs Seyi Williams, the Managing Director of Alpha Beta Consulting, (ABC), Mr. Olumide Ogunmola and Mr. Dele Ibraheem of Lands Records Company.
"We believe that the N152 billion estimate for 2008 by us will be realised 100 per cent, considering the efforts we have being putting in place before now and our past experiences,'' he said.
Some of the strategies, he said, included directing tax payers to pay directly to the banks, use of the e-payment mode to monitor payment and the computerisation of the accounting system of the state.
"Through that we have been able to plug all the loopholes through which taxes paid into the state's coffer go into individual pockets,'' he said.
Ambode, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the State Treasury Office (STO), disclosed that his office had been able to identify the informal sector as a veritable source of boosting taxation and revenue for the state.
"We regard the informal sector, which included the self-employed, artisans and others as key players to the success of year 2008 estimate improvement. And we have begun to partner with them.
"We are poised to capture more people from that sector and the state has been working in concert with the leadership of those groups and the field back reaching the state was favourable,'' he said.
Also, Ibraheem identified property tax as another area where the state could generate more money.
"We have enumerated about 700,000 taxable properties in the state. When taxes are collected from these properties by the government, it would boost the revenue accruing to it,'' Ibraheem said.
He also listed other advantages inherent in property tax to include job creation for the would be enumerators as well as using data collected by them for effective planning strategy for development.
Ibraheem added that the state government would partner with the local governments to eliminate multiplicity of taxes, which he said, had always been an area of conflict.
"We will introduce the land use charge to cover the tenement rate, ground rent and neighbourhood improvement charges. With this in place, all tax multiplicity would have been addressed,'' he said.
Ogunmola, in his response, said that each tax payer in the informal sector would be expected to pay a minimum of N2,500.00 and that tax officials would assist tax payers on how to fill the necessary forms.
"Also we have devised means through which receipts and other documents would be given to them without any hitch,'' he said.
Ogunmola assured that the government was not out to make life difficult for them, adding that "it is when you pay your taxes that the government will be able to fulfil its obligations to the state''.
He stressed that the state has made available to the citizenry various micro finance institutions where they could obtain soft loans and credit facilities that would help them in their businesses.
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Seyi Williams, enjoined Lagosians to pay what is due to them so that the state government would be able to deliver on its promises to them.
"There are instances where a lot of people are not paying taxes at all, there are those paying peanuts compared to what they should have paid while just very few are paying what they should be paying some after coercion while some do it willingly,'' she said.