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Jonathan Signs Off With Annual Tax Conference

The 17th Annual Tax Conference of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) starts in Abuja today and will be graced by President Jonathan as Guest of Honour, to officially declare the event open tomorrow.

Sam Diala

Seven days after commissioning the newly constructed “Tax Professionals’ House” built by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) in Lagos, President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to grace the 17th Annual Tax Conference of the Institute in Abuja Thursday.

The event which commences tomorrow with arrival and registration of members and other participants, will be declared open by President Jonathan, who is also listed as the Guest of Honour, on Thursday May 14, accompanied by top government officials, dignitaries and professionals from the finance and other sectors.

The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo Iweala will deliver a paper on the theme of the Conference: “Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development: Fiscal Imperatives, Prospects and Challenges”.

CITN President, Chief Mark Anthony Dike, describes this year’s conference as spectacular as it will centre on government’s effort to broaden its nonoil revenue base through all inclusive tax regime that will involve members of the Institute at various levels.

Dike, who has been consistent in his argument that tax proceeds should be used to create value and social benefits for the people, noted that the Conference participants will deliberate on various technical and professional papers to be delivered by eminent scholars and professionals selected to address the forum.

According to him, economic growth or development could be hampered by inequality in distribution of collective benefits, hence tax administration should be enforced in a manner that the proceeds are judiciously used for the overall development of the society.

He insists that “Universal access to education and health services, access to financial services, new technologies, affordable mortgage facilities, access to bank loans and more equal distribution of resources could all support economic development.

Equally, a stable and predictable operating environment, good governance and tackling of corruption at all levels in both private and public sectors are some of the major prerequisites for private sector investments.

“Closely related to this is the belief in some quarters that raising tax revenues remains the right and responsibility of each state but this requires both national and international cooperation in order to tackle tax evasion and illicit financial flows.

“CITN believes that discussions about employment, education, healthcare, etc all are incomplete without addressing the question of inclusion. Inclusion is an urgent and widespread problem in Nigeria, particularly because there are great disparities in access to gains of development,”

Dike stated in an interactive forum with Journalists in Lagos preparatory to the Annual Tax Conference scheduled for 14th -16th May at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel. Dike said that while government had introduced various tax administration systems to achieve the objective of inclusive development, using tax proceeds, the expectation gap continues to widen by the day, hence the CITN conference would take concrete decisions that would assist the incoming government in its development-oriented activities.

In his words, “It is an obvious fact that various governments have done so much in the area of evolving a viable tax system as a panacea for economic growth and development.

“It is however unfortunate that these measures are yet to be truly translated to better living conditions for majority of our citizens in addition to giving the nation a strong economic footing.

“Apparently therefore, we feel statutorily obliged to initiate programmes and discussions that would not only help in critically addressing these issues but would also find solutions to the numerous problems bedeviling our economy. This year’s Conference is specifically one in the series of such initiatives.”

Information obtained from the CITN website disclosed that “Registration starts at 11:00 on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 with an evening Hospitality Night event on the same day to kick off the week-long Conference.

“Each day begins with a keynote address and is followed by one or more invited speakers. There will be six papers presented in the technical sessions and seven papers to be presented in the breakout sessions.”

At the commissioning of the “Tax Professionals’ House” in Ikeja, Lagos, Thursday, May 7, Jonathan had, through a representative, commended the CITN for its efforts in improving the nation’s tax system and observed that government would step up tax enforcement drive to broaden its nonoil revenue.

The event also witnessed the official unveiling of the Institute’s Library by Gabriel Foluso Fasota, a past president; while Atinuke Balogun, also a past president, unveiled the Events Hall. Chief David Ajibola Olrunleke performed the unveiling of the 4th and 5th floors of the expanse building described as masterpiece of modern architecture.

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