The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, has put the nation’s tax collections so far at N5 trillion, saying that the agency is at the verge of raking in N5.3 trillion at the end of the year.
If the FIRS is able to achieve this feat, that will be the highest revenue ever generated by FIRS in history. The highest in FIRS history was N5.07 trillion generated in 2012.
Fowler’s generation of N5 trillion is significant as it was at a period when oil prices oscillated between $50 and $70 per barrel. Oil price was at an average of $100 to $120 per barrel between 2010 and 2013.
Speaking at the induction of new members of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) on Wednesday in Abuja, Fowler said FIRS has been able to record significant achievements following maximum support from the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, the JTB and other taxation stakeholders.
“This year, the FIRS, with the support of the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, the JTB and other stakeholders, has been able to generate up to N5 trillion. We believe that we should be able to close at N5.3 trillion, which should be the highest in the history of FIRS. And we believe that with that additional revenue, the state and federal governments would be able to provide more services and more development to the people of Nigeria,” he said.
Fowler urged the new JTB inductees to equip themselves with new ideas and embrace the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to be able to face the reality of revenue collection in the ever-changing society.
“I see it as a privilege to be addressing this class of inductees today as history has chosen you at this critical point in time in our nation’s development to steer the ship of sustainable revenue generation.
“While preparing for this occasion, I came across an observation by the American inventor and author Ray Kurzweil where he noted that the rate of scientific and technological change is exponential rather than linear. This observation presupposes that the better part of applied wisdom requires that in our journey of life we are capable of identifying the most apt moment to know at what point to adapt to the ever-tumultuous sea that modern existence represents.
“It also indicates that we should be able to develop the ability to accept and embrace positive change, may be due to the fact that change is inevitable, but more significantly that oftentimes, change presents us with the rare breaks that we can exploit to advance individual and collective goals and objectives,” he said.
The FIRS boss also stated that as global society continues to transform in structure and process, especially with new technologies and ways of doing things, the role that has been presented before tax administrators in an emerging economy such as Nigeria are quite enormous.
He said rather than being overwhelmed by the rapid changes of the 21st century, taxmen should remain undaunted and see the opportunities that are possible to us as a people in general and as tax administrators in particular.
“I believe that history has placed this responsibility on each and every one of us here today to be the critical success factors in our quest towards ensuring sustainable revenue generation for our various jurisdictions and for our country as well.
“Developments in global politics and economics indicate a trend towards increased deemphasis on proceeds from oil and other commodity exports. Huge investments are being made everyday by more advanced economies towards seeking alternative energy sources; and sooner rather than later, oil as a mainstay of the nation’s economy will indeed no longer be sustainable, it is just a matter of time,” he added.
He further charged the JTB members: “This address is not an all doom and gloom affair, far from it. Rather, it is a clarion call to us all, especially you, our esteemed inductees, that though the path before you may seem strewn with sticks and stones, further down the road is a path paved with gold. To navigate to that path, we will need to have courage, a courage borne of our innate convictions towards being the tool for positive change in a time of economic uncertainty.
The JTB presents a unique platform for you to be that change. Your positive actions as the drivers of revenue generation are capable of achieving much impact. They are capable of providing the much needed funds that will provide the care that saves the life of that infant who is born in the remotest parts of Birnin Magaji in Zamfara State. They can provide the funds that ensures that a disadvantaged little child can have access to free quality education in a government funded public school in Ijesa-Isu in Ekiti State. Your actions as drivers of sustainable revenue generation in your respective jurisdictions beyond the bigger picture can achieve the little things that bring about great outcomes in the life of a nation.