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UNDP harps on improved tax for SDGs, trains NIPC, others on tax regime

From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) once again harped on the need for an improved taxing system in Nigeria to enable the Country to fulfill its part in the Sustainable Development Goals ahead of the 2030 target.

UNDP’s tax for SDG initiative brings taxation to the center stage of the SDG agenda because taxation plays a critical role in both encouraging and realising the SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), 10 (reducing inequality), and 16 (Peace Justice and strong institutions).

The Initiative is designed to help governments take innovative approaches to taxation that will on one hand improve domestic revenue mobilisation to finance the SDG initiatives, and on the other hand, use tax policy tools to incentivize the achievement of the SDGs.

Though Nigeria is not yet a signatory to the Global Minimum Tax, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)and other Federal Agencies charged with implementing the pioneer status incentive are required to understand the implications of the global minimum tax on the incentive.

It is against this background that a three-day capacity-building workshop on the Governance, Reporting, and Evaluation of Tax Expenditures was organised to enhance the knowledge of NIPC, Nigerian Customs Service, and National Bureau of Statistics staff in the thematic areas.

Speaking on the sideline of the workshop held at a hotel in Lagos, the National Coordinator, Tax for SDGs (public financing for SDGs), Saied Tafida Suleiman said the Initiative was supported by UNDP under the Integrated financial framework largely supported by the European Union, Norway, and Finland.

“The whole thing is about how do we support and enhance resource mobilisation in Nigeria. NIPC is key because you cannot be talking about generating more income without more investors. NIPC is also responsible for giving one important incentive which is called pioneer status.

“So, it is important that when there is investment in Nigeria, let it be genuine and when incentive is giving, let it be that it will not harm Nigerians”, he said.

Acting Executive Secretary, NIPC, Hajiya Gana Wakil noted that tax is important because it forms the bulk of government resources to deliver good governance to citizens as captured some of the SDGs.

“We approached the UNDP to come and train us in the tax regime. We were seen as giving away waivers whereas we don’t. What we give is an incentive to encourage investors to settle down, especially with the current harsh economy – deficiency in infrastructure, and multiple taxation.

“These investors use the tax holiday not only to expand but to also do their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as companies operating in Nigeria. If these companies expand, they will employ people and the people they employ will pay PAYE tax”, she said.

The important thing is that President Bola Tinubu has identified the need for Nigeria to harmonise its tax system and set up a Federal Tax Policy Committee with very experienced people onboard it.
This is the time for both the Federal, State, and Local Governments each at its level to realise that for the Country to be competitive in such a way that can attract investments, create jobs, and transform the Country, all hands must be on deck.

So, in addition to infrastructure provision, the Nigerian tax system is one of the problems chasing away investments. If investors know the specific taxes they are going to pay, it will guide them to do their business plan.

But in a situation where there are all manners of hidden taxes and all manners of corrupt practices, investors will continue to be discouraged which may be why many investors are leaving for other Countries thereby gradually becoming a market economy despite being the largest economy in Africa.