‘Area boys’ can be trained for tax collection, says Taiwo Oyedele

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Taiwo Oyedele, chairman of the presidential committee on fiscal policy and tax reforms, says the federal government should begin the execution of the tax reforms in March 2024.

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Speaking in a recent interview on Channels Television, Oyedele said his team is planning to involve all stakeholders in implementation — including louts popularly called “Area Boys”.

In October 2023, the committee presented a ‘quick win report’ which contained 20 recommendations.

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President Bola Tinubu, upon receiving the document, directed an immediate implementation of the recommendations.

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Providing updates, Oyedele said about three reforms have been fully implemented, adding that the remaining ones are in different stages of implementation.

“The biggest instrument to implement our recommendation is the Emergency Economic Intervention Bill that we came up with, trying to amend about 15 different laws and implement some very important changes that will help with price stability in terms of inflation,” Oyedele said.

“It will help also in terms of costs that will help in terms of providing relief to the right people who are most impacted.

“I know that’s the purview of the Central Bank but we also think it’s an area where we can work together between the monitoring of fiscal authorities and also even align with trade policies. So, those are different stages.”

Oyedele further said the execution is being delayed by the national assembly, noting that when the bill gets signed, “latest by March, we should see these things come out, fingers crossed”.

‘COMMITTEE WORKING ON ENSURING POLICY YIELDS REAL IMPACT’

The fiscal policy expert further stressed that the execution of the policies is the most important.

According to Oyedele, what the committee has been trying to do is work on the implementation mechanism to transmit the policy into real impact.

“We are already working on that. We are not waiting for the instrument to be out. Some of it would be, for example, asking states and local governments to suspend nuisance taxes that just create problems with very little revenue to show for it,” he said.

“We are already meeting with the governors. In some cases, we will set off small committees to discuss with their team. So we’re already working on that. Once the thing is signed, there’s no excuse. Just implement like the next day.”

Speaking further on engagements with stakeholders (the federal and state governments) 0n the suspension of tax collection at the local level, Oyedele said the committee has been advised to get the governors’ consent.

“So we’re discussing with the governors first and demonstrating to them why this is good for the local government, good for them and good for us as a people,” he said.

“Once the governors agree, then, we’re not going to ignore the local government, right. But what we were advised is if you start with the local government and they say yes and the governor says no, you are going nowhere.”

‘AREA BOYS CAN BE TRAINED, ALL STAKEHOLDERS MUST BE ON BOARD’

In carrying out a successful execution, Oyedele said the committee is looking to ensure all parties involved in implementation are on board, including louts.

He said “area boys” can be trained for tax collection and paid decent salaries to forsake their old ways.

He also said these efforts are made to reduce multiple taxes, described as ‘a nuisance at the state and local government levels”.

“Our view is that the local government can collect more than 10 times what they are collecting now by following the recommendations that we’re giving them,” he added.

“We are looking for sources where we can find at least N50 billion, which we can then use to compensate them for suspending the taxes we’re asking them to suspend.

“We’re also thinking about how you bring all stakeholders on board because at the end of the day, if you stop the livelihood of anyone, whether they are earning it legitimately or not, you can create crises that would be difficult to manage but once you bring everybody in.

“Maybe we need to train those area boys and touts, give them uniforms and then they’ll be the ones to ask you to show the evidence on your phone and then they get paid a decent salary.

“If you give them the skills, some of them will on their own, move on from that job to something else.

“So, our strategy is let’s think about what’s best for our country and get all stakeholders to align.”

Oyedele said he believes all the stakeholders, including the government, want the best for the country.

The Cable

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