…Says Sacked LG Chairmen Desperately Targeting LGs Funds
The Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Tuesday, declared that his administration would ensure that the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, is able to offset its recurrent expenditure before the end of his current tenure.
Governor Makinde, who made the declaration while giving a keynote address at a one-day tax stakeholders’ ‘Poverty to Prosperity’ summit, held at the Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, University College Hospital, Ibadan, stated that his commitment to take the state from poverty to prosperity remained on course.
In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the governor was quoted telling dignitaries at the event that the sacked local government chairmen, who have been struggling to return to the councils, were targeting the funds of the councils.
While urging the people of the state to think of new and innovative ideas to expand the state’s IGR, Makinde said that the desperation by the sacked 68 local government and Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, chairmen to return to office was informed by the greed to take over the accumulated resources of the councils.
He, however, stated that the era of spending government’s money recklessly had gone, and the sacked illegal chairmen had gone with it, adding that though many of the sacked chairmen have shown that they were stone-hearted, saying that one could only hope that those who fail to toe the path of peace will be judged accordingly.
Governor Makinde, who also spoke at the foundation laying ceremony of the Mini-Mapo Hall at the headquarters of Ibadan South-West Local Government, said that his government would ensure prudent management of public funds.
While laying the foundation stone of the Traditional Council’s building (Mini-Mapo), which was attended by the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji and his High Chiefs, as well as other top government functionaries, Governor Makinde reiterated the importance of the traditional institution in ensuring peace and order in the society, noting that despite the country operating democracy, the traditional councils could not be overlooked.
The governor added that the traditional rulers, as the closest to the people, who also understand their culture and tradition, remained relevant in maintaining peace and resolving conflicts.
Delivering his keynote address at the tax summit, Makinde noted that growing the state’s IGR has become imperative to the government’s mandate to move Oyo State from poverty to prosperity.
He said that strategies have been put in place by his government to boost the state IGR, and that the strategies have started yielding fruits.
He further stated that Oyo State was able to raise its IGR from about N2 billion to N2.7 billion in November, 2019.
He said, “We are here today to talk about the Oyo State IGR Roadmap that will facilitate economic prosperity. The issue of IGR is very important as it is tied to how much development the state will experience, all things being equal.
“Without adequate revenue, there will be no resources to fund the budget; the state will have to resort to borrowing for recurrent expenditure or owing for overheads, which is never ideal.
“Trends also show that Oyo State’s IGR fluctuates; in 2014 it was N16.30 billion, but dropped to N15.66 billion in 2015; it later increased to N18.88 billion in 2016.
“For 2017, the IGR figures grew to N22.45 billion; while in 2018 it grew to N24.67 billion. This put our IGR per capita in 2018 at below N3,000 per person. We can definitely do better.
“The current trend across states in Nigeria is to see IGR as being synonymous with revenue generated from taxes, partly because other sources of revenue, especially natural resources, are on the exclusive list.
“Revenue generated from these natural resources goes to the Federation Account and is then shared between the Federal Government and states. A lot has been said about how this has served as a hindrance to development, and how it has made states unwilling to invest in the management of these resources. But that is only half of the story.
“The other half is that it is possible to raise the IGR of the state without raising taxes. And this is the promise that we made to the people of Oyo State while we were on the campaign trail. We are determined to continue keeping that promise.
“Indeed, as clearly stated in our Roadmap for Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019-2023, our plans to increase the revenue generated in Oyo State without an increase in taxes, stand on four legs: a thorough review of the current IGR process and management in the state; expanding the tax net; looking for new sources of revenue and being aggressive and innovative in the mode of revenue collection by having the state Board of the Internal Revenue Service working in collaboration with seasoned professionals.
“So far, and I am sure we will have this expounded by various speakers today, Oyo State has embarked on a comprehensive review of the IGR process and management. We have been able to plug some holes in the system and this is yielding results. We have also employed new managers of the revenue collection process. Their mandate is to come up with innovative and aggressive ways of getting the untaxed to contribute to the development of the state.”
The governor added that the commencement of the new strategies put in place to increase IGR produced the positive result recorded in December 2019, as the state IGR was to N2.7 billion from about N2 billion in November, 2019.
Makinde revealed that his administration is also putting in place a land administration solution that will ensure wider and more effective enumeration of all business and household properties, ensure ease of obtaining land titles and other documents and faster approval of building plans, adding that the land use charge has been fine-tuned and will be responsibly applied.
The governor added, “Furthermore, we have taken a second look at our vehicle registration and renewal system and by the end of this month, the public can expect a wider, better and faster platform, which will be available in all our 34 tax stations. We will continually apply fair and harmonised billings to other rates and levies.”
He said that it is generally agreed in economic circles that the citizens are more inclined to respond positively and even volunteer to pay their taxes when they see how these payments are being put to use, adding, “I am happy to report that the taxes paid by the good people of Oyo State are currently being ploughed back into the development of the state. You may be aware of the work being done by the Oyo State Road Maintenance Agency, OYSROMA; we are rehabilitating roads in Ibadan and will move outside Ibadan to other cities before the end of this quarter.
“The work being done in the education sector is also taxpayers’ money in action. Schools are being built and renovated; we are concentrating on our final year secondary school students. We want them to return better results in their WAEC exams this year. We are also able to increase the education budget by 700 per cent, compared to last year’s budget.
“Because we believe that health is wealth, we are taking steps to ensure that the people of Oyo State remain healthy. Soon, we will roll out a health intervention programme across all local government areas in the state. The renovation and equipping of hospitals and Primary Health Care Centres in the state remain on course.
“In a few months, we are looking to start running a mass transit system in the state. The modalities are being set up and we will communicate the process with you.
“Of course, what this means is that we will have to find a way of increasing our IGR, especially by looking inwards and exploring areas of competitive advantage. We have to, as a matter of urgency, attract investments into Oyo State.
“Attracting direct investments will take a collective effort. Our administration will continue to invest in security and take other measures to ensure that we create an enabling environment for the growth of investments. On your part, you should be ready to extend the traditional hospitality to strangers, making them feel welcome in our midst.”
While pleading that the citizens file their annual returns early in the year and within the stipulated time, he enjoined all stakeholders to keep their minds open to new ideas and think creatively and innovatively about how to expand the tax net.
In his speech, the Oyo State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinola Ojo, maintained that the summit presented “an opportunity for all stakeholders to interact, obtain first-hand information on the benefits of paying taxes and perhaps most importantly, understand the plans and appreciate the strides by the government regarding revenue generation, with which it intends to provide requisite services and infrastructure for the benefit of every citizen of Oyo State as well as enhance development in the State.”