The Acting Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Zacch Adedeji, has said the target of the agency under his watch is to beat Africa’s average tax-to-GDP ratio of 16.5%, by achieving 18% within three years.
Adedeji, who stated this on Monday, September 18, during a hand-over ceremony held at the Revenue House in Abuja, also disclosed that his administration would be relying on technology and innovation to achieve its target, adding that with technology, FIRS would not only be increasing revenue generation but will also be blocking leaks, ensure coordination and accountability.
The new revenue boss, who had lauded his predecessor, Muhammad Nami, for laying the groundwork on which the new administration will be progressing, said the FIRS is also targeting ramping public trust in the nation’s tax system, by modernizing the system to something dependable, which encourages voluntary tax compliance.
He warned that those who would want to continue with tax evasion will also find an effective enforcement model in place, which will ensure deterrence, in a fair and transparent way.
He, however, lamented the current revenue situation, which has been devoting 96% of revenue to debt servicing, reminding the agency’s staff and management that the situation would require that the pace of work be heightened to save the economy.
Adedeji noted: “Presently, we confront a pressing revenue crisis, with a staggering 96% of government revenue being funnelled into servicing our debts. This stark reality necessitates swift and resolute action on our part. We cannot afford to delay; we must act decisively to reverse this concerning trend.
“In our pursuit of a brighter fiscal future, we are determined to align ourselves with President Bola Tinubu’s esteemed Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee. This collaboration will enable us to shape a prosperous fiscal landscape that empowers our nation’s growth and development.
“As we chart our course ahead, FIRS is committed to placing innovation, technology, and fresh ideas at the forefront of our operations. This strategic focus will empower us to enhance efficiency, fortify against revenue leaks, and bolster coordination and accountability within our organization.
“Our overarching goal is to nurture voluntary tax compliance by establishing a modern, dependable tax system that garners the trust and admiration of all stakeholders. Through this, we hope to create an environment where taxpayers willingly fulfill their civic duties.
“For those who deviate from their tax obligations, rest assured, we will enforce our responsibilities judiciously. We will implement a robust enforcement model that effectively deters tax evaders while maintaining fairness and transparency in our processes.
“A fundamental aspect of our mission is to elucidate to taxpayers why their civic duty matters. We are committed to simplifying our tax system, making it accessible and comprehensible, thereby facilitating voluntary tax payments and fostering a sense of civic responsibility.
“Quality data will be the cornerstone of our operations, enabling us to measure our progress, make informed decisions, and maintain the highest standards of accountability. We recognize that data-driven strategies are essential to our success.
“Our aspiration is audacious – to surpass Africa’s average tax-to-GDP ratio of 16.5% and achieve an impressive 18% within three years. By doing so, we aim to reduce our nation’s reliance on borrowing and ensure financial sustainability.”
While pledging that the welfare of the workforce of the agency will not be neglected, just as their hard work and dedication will be rewarded, he opened doors to stakeholders to come up with ideas on strengthening the tax system.
Also speaking at the event, the immediate past Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Nami, highlighted some of his achievements while leading the agency, recalling that his administration embarked on broad reforms focusing on the automation of tax administration processes and administrative and operational restructuring of the service.
Nami said: “The service achieved this goal by using in-house capacities to develop and deploy the Taxpro MAX which had been in use since 2021. The Taxpro MAX is a landmark success considering that the legacy iTax system that was procured at huge costs did not operate beyond the pilot stage,” he stated.
He charged his successor to continue with the reforms and projects that were introduced during his four-year administration for high tax revenue generation and effective tax collection, even as he said some of the reforms could be changed.
“The reforms may require more changes to the administrative and operational structure of the Service. Therefore, I encourage the acting Executive Chairman to continue with these reforms and projects for the benefit of our dear country.”