From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
In the face global economic shocks and dwindling statutory allocations from the Federation Account, the Taraba State government has recorded success in devising ways to boost internally generated revenue.
The robust efforts of the government have seen the state’s IGR double from barely N4 billion to almost N10 billion through diligence, administrative ingenuity and dogged political will.
According to statistics from the Economic Confidential on Annual States Viability Index (ASVI) for 2020, Taraba State is among the top 10 most economically unviable states in the country with the IGR representing less than 10 per cent of her receipts from Federation Account Allocation (FAA).
The index carefully and painstakingly computed proved that without the monthly disbursement from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), many states remain unviable, and cannot survive without the federally collected revenue, mostly from the oil sector.
The IGR is generated by states through Pay-As-You-Earn Tax (PAYE), Direct Assessment, Road Taxes and revenues from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The IGR of the 36 states of the federation totalled N1.3 trillion in 2020 was the same figure in 2019. The report by the Economic Confidential, an intelligence magazine further indicates that the IGR of Lagos State of N418bn is higher than that of 22 other states put together whose Internally Generated Revenues are extremely low, and poor compared to their allocations from the Federation Account.
What is, however, interesting about the case of Taraba which though among the most unviable states, is the steady rise in the IGR over the last few years such that there has been over 120 per cent increase in collections over the last seven years, growing from barely N3 billion in 2014 to about N10 billion in 2021.
Taraba State is richly endowed with diverse climatic conditions and rich agricultural potentials that if fully harnessed, could comfortably feed the nation literally. The tourism potentials and mineral deposits are grossly under utilized while the vast human capacity is left mostly docile and idle.
Irked by the development, the state government has embarked on deliberate measures to tackle the rather sorry situation and has continued to witness steady improvement over the years.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Iliya Bekyu, the increase may not be so significant in terms of the amount but it showed for the first time that the state could actually tap it’s resources and look inwards at ways of generating revenue to fund critical projects rather than depending almost entirely on FAAC earnings.
“When this administration came to power about seven years ago, we met an IGR of barely N4 billion annually. It was so poor that Governor Darius Ishaku decided that something had to be done immediately. In 2016, we improved the IGR with over N300 million naira. In 2017, we witnessed an impressive rise of over N1 billion from the previous year.
“In fact, during 2020 which was a COVID-19 year and activities in all sectors were seriously affected, we recorded nearly N2 billion increase over the previous year. As we speak, Taraba generated over N9.6bn in 2021, compared to N4.1 in 2015. So the rise is steady and the target is to make sure that we generate much of our revenue internally.”
Bekyu said deliberate steps were taken to achieve the results so far recorded, explaining: “One of the first things this government did was to assemble the right team for the job. The board and management of the Taraba State Board of Internal Revenue was reconstituted and manned by well experienced, well spirited and highly motivated experts who brought about new measures to block leakages, expand scope of collection, ensure that more persons were captured and generally make the system more effective and efficient.”