Caption: The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Muhammad Nami, unveils MATAN identity card at the stakeholder engagement meeting with Market Traders Association of Nigeria in Lagos on June 21, 2023.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it will partner the Nigeria Police and other security agencies across the country in the fight against touting and self-imposed tax collection agents across Nigerian markets, leading to huge loss of revenue by the federation.
Speaking at a Stakeholders Engagement Programme on the VAT DIRECT Initiative in Lagos State, Muhammad Nami, Executive Chairman FIRS, said the service has partnered the Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN) to collect and remit Value Added Tax (VAT) from markets across the country, especially from those in the informal sector.
The initiative, which is the first of its kind, he noted, is crucial to revenue generation and also to eliminating multiple taxation, especially from the informal sector, noting that the success of this collaboration would lead to increased revenue for the country, while providing government the needed resources to fund infrastructure and other social amenities.
Nami, who is also the Chairman of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) further expressed the government’s worry over the multiplicity of taxes, assuring that the Service and JTB are working on various modalities to address this challenge, adding that the partnership has laid a very good foundation for the government to address the issue of multiple taxation and extortion by tax officials, tax agents and touts in the market place.
“One important area of our collaboration is the issue of providing adequate security in the markets. We are aware of the challenges that you have faced in the past with miscreants, self-imposed tax collection agents, and touts,” Nami said.
Caption: Nami, surrounded by Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN) enumeration vendors at the stakeholder engagement meeting in Lagos on June 21, 2023.
“I want to assure you that as part of this initiative, we will be collaborating with the relevant security agencies particularly the Nigeria Police Force to tackle all forms of touting and illegal tax collection by miscreants and keep them away from your markets.
“The successful outcome of this collaboration and additional revenue accruable will have multiplier effects on all sectors of the economy as the government will have more revenue to provide the needed social amenities and infrastructure in critical sectors.
“An improved VAT collection will improve the revenue base of the States and Local Governments at the sub-national level and the citizens will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
“This initiative is very important to the government, particularly at this moment of dwindling revenues from the petroleum sector and therefore, requires that we put all hands on deck and optimally explore all available opportunities.
“The administration of VAT in the informal sector is characterized mainly by a low level of compliance and a lack of awareness in terms of obligation and liability. It, therefore, becomes necessary to leverage the MATAN platform to positively change the status quo,” Nami stated.
He also noted that to ensure transparency and accountability of the project operations, a combined monitoring and evaluation team comprising both organisations would be formed.
As part of the deal, the FIRS, according to a statement by Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola, Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman, FIRS (Media and Communication), will collaborate with the association, which boasts of over 40m members across the 774 local government councils in the country, to deploy technology to enumerate traders for collecting and remitting VAT to the Service.
It is expected to result in an expansion of the tax net and increased revenue for the federation.
The VAT DIRECT Initiative (VDI), the statement explained, is a programme designed to foster collaboration between the FIRS and the market place, especially the informal sector, in the collection and remittance of the Value Added Tax (VAT) using technology.
During the Stakeholder Engagement, the FIRS Chairman, also unveiled an Identity Card that is to be given to each trader upon enumeration; the card contains their tax identification number and other personal details.
The VAT Direct Initiative Stakeholder Engagement was attended by the Secretary of the Joint Tax Board, representatives from Deposit Money Banks, Iyalojas of Markets across the country, members of various trade clusters, representatives from all major markets across the country, as well as officers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.