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Despite $472.62bn GDP, Nigeria Yet to Record Commensurate Tax Inflows, Says Tax Chairman Adedeji 

The Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)/Joint Tax board (JTB), Zacch Adedeji, on Wednesday said the country was yet to take full advantage of its growth potential despite being Africa’s biggest economy with a GDP size of $472.62 billion.

He said the growth and population advantage of about 220 million had not translated to a commensurately acceptable level of tax inflows into the economy.  

Speaking at the opening of the 154th meeting of the JTB in Abuja, with the theme, “Optimising Tax Administration: Leveraging Harmonisation of Taxes via Digital Transformation,” he pointed out that a well-designed and properly managed tax system has the propensity to encourage investment, promote social equity, and contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development.  

Adedeji, said taxation as a tool, possesses multi-dimensional means of influencing macro-economic indices of the country when properly deployed.

The JBT chairman said the country was presently challenged on many fronts, adding however, that these should reinforce the desire of tax administrators to find the required solution, through individual and collective actions as the drivers of tax administration in the country.

He said he remained confident that the role of the board in the nation’s tax landscape would be further strengthened under his watch.

He added that the country’s inability to take advantage of its growth potential due to a number of factors had led to the fragmented and complex nature of the unique tax system.

Adedeji, further expressed optimism that the JTB could become the medium to adequately and appropriately address these tax-related issues that the country had been grappling with for decades.

He said it was in light of the foregoing that President Bola Tinubu, recently constituted the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee as a vehicle for addressing the critical challenges around fiscal governance, revenue transformation and economic growth to comprehensively address identified bottlenecks.

He also stressed the need to modernise tax administration using the opportunities presented by digital technologies among others.

Adedeji said, “As we begin to take the first steps towards this emerging dispensation, it is imperative that we gradually leave behind the old way of doing things, while adopting realistic initiatives, and leveraging technology to accomplish our goals.

“In this regard, the current tax system, and its unwieldy composition is one major albatross that needs to be tamed.

“The simplification of our tax system, the need for coherence, harmony, and synergy, and the need to leverage technology in a 21st century world, are just some of the imperatives required to achieve the transition from our current state to our desired objectives.”

He added, “I call on each of you my dear colleagues and friends, to re-dedicate ourselves to the national cause, leveraging the strategic role that revenue agencies play in forging national development, and I give the assurance that when the tale is being told, our little efforts here at the JTB will be written in gold.

“As the first quarter of 2024 gradually winds down, let us re-dedicate ourselves to improving on past achievements as we must always strive to break new grounds.”

Adedeji, stressed that as the dynamics of the global economy continued to be laced with unpredictability, it was necessary that tax processes continue to be strengthened through the adoption of technology, digital transformation, and the positive disruptions it has wrought.

He said while focusing on the structural and institutional aspects of evolution, “we must also focus on the process and people aspect, as these factors, working in sync, can enable the full optimisation of the potentials in tax revenue that are yet untapped in the country.”

 James Emejo

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