The Public Policy Dialogue in Kwara
The PPD started around 12:00 p.m. participants rendered the second stanza of the national anthem. Mr. Akindele welcomed the participants to the event, afterward, participants took a turn to introduce each other. Mr. Akindele continued that the dialogue on tax regime of Kwara State requires both awareness by the citizens on their obligations and responsibilities of the government. He particularly commended the representative of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, who were present and also members of the Joint National Association of People Living with Disability (JONAPWD) Kwara State chapter. CSOs and both print (News Agency of Nigeria, The telescope, and Herald) and the NTA were also recognized.
The Co-Founder Followtaxes – Mr Saied Tafida welcomed the participants, he charged the participants that the deliverables for this gathering are to see ourselves as change agents in our respective communities as it pertains to governance issues. He continued that the engagement today is to change how we do things, rather than complain about the government we should address issues of governance by actively engaging in the processes and speaking up on issues that are anti-people. He also said that all to be discussed today will form a document that will be used as advocacy to the government as regards issues of taxation, IGR and participatory governance in Kwara State. He enjoined the participants to speak their mind and what needs to be done to make life easy for the common man. The ownership of the process lies with us (citizens) to persuade the government to make governance open and accessible to all.
Discussions and Questions
The Secretary of ICAN Kwara district and society who was the lead discussant opened the floor for discussions on taxation in Kwara State. He explained the meaning of tax and went further to emphasize the obligation of citizens to pay tax and the expected use of such government income. He added that the government has the responsibility to perform because they collect tax from the citizens and so when they fail to perform genuine taxpayers have the right to question them. He continued that government has not lived up to expectation though we see development projects they need to put the taxpayers’ money to full use. Mr. Saied Tafida Added on the issue of the levy, he said that levy is what you pay for the services you enjoy. He said the mention of the federal allocation as if the money were a special money, he continued that a better fraction of the money is money taxed on VAT, Company income tax, and other taxes, he also added that we must not be concerned about tax alone we should also understand issues bothering on budgeting and the technicality that comes into it.
The representative from the Kwara State Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MPED) also made his submission on tax regime in the state, he said we all have stake in the government, he said the government is making effort to mobilize fund to meet expenditure and that the intention is to reach the rural areas, but that tax compliance in the state has not reached the level it should. He continued that IGR is used by the government to fix roads and that for government to be more responsive there are channels through which citizens (who pay taxes) can relay their grievances to the government, he said the grievances can be channeled to the Kwara State Ministry of Assembly, Secretary to the Kwara State Government and Kwara State Internal Revenue Service. He also highlighted issues on the tax imposed for shop extension he explained that there is what we call road set back and that for an extension it is expected that he who wishes to extend pays the tax but it comes on a different head. Attached in Annex 6 is the communique issued by the participant after the event.