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Oyedele: Tax waivers have not been transparent | We’ve created economic distortion

Taiwo Oyedele, chairman of the presidential fiscal policy and tax reforms committee Taiwo Oyedele, chairman of the presidential fiscal policy and tax reforms committee

Taiwo Oyedele, chairman of the presidential committee on tax reforms and fiscal policy, says Nigeria has not been very “prudent and transparent” in granting tax waivers.

Oyedele spoke on Friday in an interview on Channels Television. 

On Wednesday, the house of representatives directed that all tax waivers from 2015 to date should be investigated by the relevant committee.

Commenting on the development, the tax expert said the waivers have not been equitably executed.

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Oyedele, who had in September said the incentives gulp N6 trillion every year, added that Nigeria was giving so much when it required revenue.

“Every country, you know, gives one form of waiver, incentive or the other. So in principle, there’s nothing wrong with granting waivers but the way we have done these over the years essentially means that we haven’t been as prudent and transparent about the waivers we granted,” he said.

“In some cases, it’s been based on those who have contracts and assets. Whilst some are benefiting, you find someone who is doing business in the same industry does not have access to it.

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“What that means is not only were we wasting taxpayers’ money on those incentives, we created economic distortion that wasn’t good for the operation of the market, and by extension, not helpful for the economy.”

Oyedele said the tax reform committee is looking into the situation and will ensure that tax collection is fair. 

“We’re working through that process as we speak. So we try to rationalise it so that every naira that we give away is properly designed in terms of the targets,” he said.

‘EMERGENCY ECONOMIC INTERVENTION BILL STALLING REFORMS’

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Oyedele also provided updates on the progress of the implementation of the tax policy reform recommendations.

He said the quick passage of the emergency economic intervention bill would go a long way to fast-track the process.

“Some of the recommendations required that we prepare executive orders. A couple of them to be signed by Mr. President,” he said.

“There are also a couple of orders or regulations to be action by the finance minister. We also have about two for the Federal Inland Revenue Service and we also do a memorandum of understanding (MoU)  with the government as well as an emergency economic intervention bill, which will need the national assembly to work on.

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“But of course, the process of implementing that requires that you work through the internal processes of getting the bill presented to the national assembly, and that process now is at the advanced stage. 

“So we’re expecting in the next few days, we should have a bill that’s ready to go to the national assembly. 

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“We call it an emergency because of the sense of urgency and the need for us to move with speed on these issues. So those different implementation instruments are at different stages as we speak. 

“But really in most parts, the recommendations we have require that you have made the law. So we cannot do that until the emergency bill has been passed.”

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Oyedele said the committee would need to work on a technology-driven intelligence database system for tax administration in Nigeria, and by extension, revenue management 

This, he said, would help to identify who indeed is poor, design effective interventions, and promote transparency. 

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