Mark Anthony Dike
This yearly conference has over the years become a tax festival of sorts considering the number of tax professionals who congregate to discuss taxation and fiscal issues in one place. It is without doubt, the largest gathering of tax professionals in one place in the world. I have had the privilege of attending two meetings/conferences of the European Fiscal Association which is the umbrella body of tax professionals in Europe and dare say that the number of attendees do not compare in size to those who attend our yearly conference. Importantly, my analogy is to emphasize that the tax conference provides an avenue for tax professionals to come together to update our knowledge, aggregate ideas on better ways of handling tax issues and to examine tax policies of government with a view to offering our professional advice.
It also affords delegates the opportunity to forge partnerships, share experiences and also socialise for their individual and collective benefits. Our members always look forward to the convening of this conference due to the huge benefits derivable therefrom.
The theme of this year’s conference which is “Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development: Fiscal Imperatives, Prospects and Challenges” was chosen after careful inquisition on the kennels upon which activities in the economy has sprout over the years. Government trumpets its growth achievements year on year ostensibly to underscore progress in terms of growth for the national economy. Many pundits have however argued about what manner of growth this translates to as millions of unemployed throng recruitment centres in search of jobs which ought to come with these growth recorded year on year. If this growth were to be nominal in nature only, then it does little to addressing the employment challenge the country faces with its social economic consequences for government and society to handle, the contrary is the case where growth is real in nature which means more and more people are joining the labour force needed in further galvanizing the economy for further prosperity.
For the taxman also, he is the happier for a growth-with-jobs regime as he earns more revenue for government with the expansion of the tax base as more and more people are gainfully employed and contribute their fair share in form of taxes to the government revenue pool. This is aside from the gainfully employed being able to fend for themselves and further stimulate demand for goods and services thereby improving companies’ bottomline all over places where such growth abound. It is against this backdrop that we seek to hinge progress of the nation’s tax system on the government’s inclusive growth mantra and its potential for unleashing the country unto a steady path to prosperity for individuals and government at large.
We will also be x-raying the following sub-themes:
•Recent Developments in the Nigeria Tax System;
•Taxation as an enabler for inclusive economic growth; and
•Fiscal Incentives and Foreign Direct Investment;
•Contentious issues in Companies Income Tax Act (CITA), Personal Income Tax Act (PITA) and Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT)
Furthermore, we have outlined some key topics that would be of interest to members which will be considered during the breakout sessions. These are;
•Tax Policy Development in Nigeria- Possibility of a transparent, simple and progressive tax system;
•Implications of shale oil development and alternative energy sources on Nigeria’s energy industry and government Revenue;
•Achieving desired tax revenue without multiple taxation: Issues and Challenges;
•Nigeria’s Tax System – How effective has it been in the redistribution of National Income?;
•Nigeria’s transition from underdevelopment to a developing country: Getting the fiscal priorities right; and
•Tax morality and implications for tax planning.
All these topics have been put together in order to ensure that the conference generates insightful and robust ideas that would be beneficial to the incoming administration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria particularly in tax administration, revenue generation and fiscal derivative policies.
The heartbeat of any economy is its ability to generate revenue for economic sustainability and taxation plays a crucial role in promoting economic activity and growth. Through taxation, government ensures that resources are channelled towards important projects in the society. Thus the imposition of taxes is essential to economic and social development in any given economy.
Diversification from Reliance on Oil Revenue
Nigeria has for decades, been over relying on oil to drive its economy. Following the massive decline in global oil prices and the damage it has done to the Nigerian economy and the 2015 budget, it is imperative now for the incoming administration to seriously explore other viable means of saving the economy from total collapse.
In the last nine months or thereabout, global oil prices have been experiencing sharp decline leading to severe fall in revenue. As a result, the country’s budget benchmark price for this year is pegged at $53 per barrel. The continuous fall in the global oil prices has forced the federal government to adopt austerity measures, reduce oil benchmark prices severally; from $78 per barrel to $65 while the Central Bank of Nigeria has devalued the naira severally too.