Stakeholders brainstorm on review of tax justice system in Delta

Patrick Ochei

Stakeholders in the Nigeria Labour Congress, media, Delta Board of Internal Revenue, Forum of NGOs, concerned MDAs and others gathered under the Delta State Tax Justice Platform to deliberate on the need to have the tax justice document reviewed for effective implementation in Delta state.

Addressing the participants at the NLC conference hall in Asaba, the coordinator of tax justice, good governance office in Delta state, Barr. Bridget Anyafulu gave the history of how the process began in Delta and how OXFAM and CISLAC had to sponsor a research that has produced the document on Tax Justice.

She said at the point the finding was concluded, labour was mandated to coordinate the project in Delta, with media assigned a key role towards seeing to the successful implementation of the programme.

Anyafulu stressed that now that NLC had agreed to coordinate it, a date is needed to launch the research document and then present it to government to look into the findings.

Barr. Anyafulu, a development expert, affirmed that about 85 percent revenue comes to Delta state government through the formal sector, while the remaining 15 percent is from the informal sector.

She argued that the formal sector has no problem because government collects its tax directly from the source; adding that the challenge lies mostly on the informal sector with multiple taxations.

She, however, charged all the participants to help in ensuring that the loopholes are blocked and money saved for government, maintaining that the poor pay more in tax, even with beating most of the time. And that these monies end up in private pockets who claim to be consultants.

The NLC vice chairman, Comrade Tony Toki assured of the labour’s commitment to the cause, adding that labour had already keyed fully into the programme.

He said this is because we don’t want government to be losing revenue, but instead, receive these revenues and use them to develop our society.

Speaking also was the director of operations at the Delta Board of Internal Revenue, DBIR, Mr. Paul Itanwata, who defined Tax as a compulsory levy imposed on the income of citizens by government in order to carry out certain functions.

He said the taxes and levies act specifies the legitimate taxes to be collected by government, advising that citizens must not be ignorant of the operations of touts and illegal persons for tax collection.

Others who spoke included a representative of the Market Women Association in Udu local government area, Mrs. Grace Mragbozo and Comrade Ifeanyi Olanye from the Delta media on tax justice. While Madam Grace recounted their multiple ordeals in the hands of tax collectors, Comrade Olanye said it has become arbitrary how the poor is being daily oppressed all in the name of tax collection.

Meanwhile, a new date had been taken to meet again to review the document on Tax Justice, with the following in mind; to train revenue collectors on capacity building, to block loopholes where government is losing money, to strengthen Labour/Media synergy towards driving the process and promoting the programme and then give incentives to revenue workers to work honestly.

It was also unanimously agreed not to allow the vulnerable segment of the informal sector of the society to continue to suffer the disparity in tax payments which have left the poor with huge burden of taxation.

While it was seen as a responsibility on the part of the stakeholders to help to breach the disparity between the taxes those in the formal and informal sectors pay, it was equally agreed that the Tax Justice project must be one to endure sustainability in Delta state.

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