Nigeria: FIRS boss calls for diversification, sustainable revenue base

WorldStage Newsonline– The Chairman, Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mr Babatunde Fowler has stressed the need for diversification, calling for sustainable revenue base for inclusive growth.

Represented by Mrs Junila Takon, the Director, Career and Skills Department at the opening of a two-day second annual meeting of the Nigerian Research Tax Network (NRTN) on Wednesday in Abuja, he said though Nigeria had long relied on revenue from oil, there was now widespread recognition of the need to diversify the sources of government budget.

Moreover, NRTN said rigorous research that can inform both tax policy and practice was key to raising increased tax revenue in an equitable manner without impeding economic growth.

The Coordinator of NRTN, Mr Michael Falade said this at the meeting with the theme “Revenue Beyond Oil Reliance’ that though Nigeria, the giant of Africa possesses a huge deposit of natural resources, only oil had served as its economic mainstay for a very long time.

He, however, said that there were other sectors that could be built on to actually maximise what the nation had beyond mineral resources and oil.

“Yes, to a very large extent oil is a major mainstay in many world economies, but to have a sustainable economy, we have to move beyond oil.

“We cannot just rely on oil. Our advocacy is to make the debate around oil and how to really diversify the economy and make practical plans and decisions to put our economy in place.”

He said that the nation’s reliance on oil had limited its ability to finance and deliver critical social programmes and infrastructure to spur the nation’s development.

Fowlers said that the NRTN conference was aimed at bringing together stakeholders as well as showcase the best current researches on the pressing challenges of taxation and revenue in Nigeria.

The FIRS chief said that the NRTN, an initiative of the International Centre for Tax and Development, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was inaugurated in 2017 in partnership with the FIRS.

He said that the network was aimed at providing funding for quality, policy-related research partially or wholly undertaken by Nigerian researchers.

It would also provide a platform for knowledge exchange and evidence-based debate on tax issues through workshops, conferences and publications.

Dr Olly Owen, Research Director of NRTN, said that the commitment the FIRS have made to the network showed that research culture was really a strong institution.

“We are very grateful that they have been our counterpart in this and by giving us the use of this facility, it shows that they take it extremely serious and that research is really important to know how to face the challenges.

“Really, internal revenue is replacing oil, so it is strategic to the future of Nigeria that we go about this in a well-informed research manner and the FIRS is backing that.”

Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the lowest in the world at under six per cent.

It is far below the sub-Saharan African average of 20 per cent and the 15 per cent considered necessary to fund adequate public services.

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