By Chinwendu Obienyi
Federal Government yesterday, said that the recently-launched Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) will attract over $1 million into the nation’s coffers.
Speaking during a sensitization workshop on the scheme organised by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in Lagos, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said that the Federal Government has a target of about $1 billion from the scheme if people pay the right taxes.
“We have set a preliminary target of about $1billion from the scheme and we think we might get more. We are going to see how it goes but the right incentive is to get people to pay the right taxes continuously. What is important is getting people into the tax net and paying the right taxes. The majority of the people that are paying tax at the moment are those that are on Pay As You Earn (PAYE) platform, but the ones who seem to be evading taxes are those who own their businesses and this is unfair as everyone needs to pay his tax according to their level of income. That is how progressive taxes work in the world” she said.
She, said the government intends to drive deep awareness and will continue to create more initiatives, urging Nigerians to partake in the initiative as they would benefit immensely from the scheme. “We also intend to go to shopping centres to talk to people through the first batch of liaison officers who have already been recruited and more are being trained.
So, we intend to drive very deep awareness of this scheme and continue to do programmes like this. We must build a revenue tax base that is resilient so that the government can provide basic infrastructural services because every journey begins with a single step. If we can get an effective tax base, we can fix power, grow, increase the size of our Gross Domestic Products (GDP). And as we do that, the tax burden must be shared”, Adeosun stressed.
According to the Minister, the present government aims to be among the prosperous nations in the world, adding that the need for Nigeria to address the decline in the level of tax compliance in the country, was the reason VAIDS was introduced.
“From an economic perspective, Nigeria aims to be a prosperous nation because we have the human and natural resources to be among other prosperous nations. But we are currently behind South Africa and Ghana in tax compliance rate as tax contribution to GDP in Nigeria is 6 per cent.
“It is therefore very important that we attain a better level of tax compliance rate in Nigeria and the way we can do that is through the VAIDS initiative. Whatever reasons we are giving ourselves for not paying tax in Nigeria is why the scheme was introduced as a voluntary programme for every Nigerian and we decided to give people voluntary window to come in and do the right thing at the right time for Nigeria.
“We are trying to build an economy where we have oil and everything else. I am sure that the taxes will be used judiciously and I have strong assurance that as our tax revenues go up, governance will improve, she said.
The government currently has many projects it wants to do which if we have the funds, we could do them. So, progressively, Nigerians need to look out for an improvement in the standard of living and their lifestyles” .” she explained.