Relief appear to be coming for Lagosians as the state government has unveiled plans to narrow collection of taxes and other revenues in other to end the era of multiple taxation.
Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Mustapha Akinkunmi, who disclosed the plans at a Stakeholders’ Forum on Taxation and Revenue Generation in Ikeja at the weekend said the move was to ensure easy payment of taxes in the state.
He said, “The issue of multiple taxes must stop in Lagos State. This is one of the issues that residents of Lagos often complain about. The present government is about the people and we must listen to whatever is affecting them. It may also require introduction of technologies that would facilitate ease of payment in the state. I think it will be a one-stop shop where we can collect taxes and later distribute them to the agencies expected to collect the tax”
He further said “It is confusing for many residents whenever the need to pay taxes and levies arises. We are one, either local or state, and residents must see ourselves as one as well,” he added.
Akinkunmi said the outcome of the meeting would determine whether there was need for any legislative change “which we need to bring to the House of Assembly.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Tairu Tunde Ogunleye, lamented, “Over the years, there has been a running battle between the state and local governments on revenue generation”.
He said “areas of conflict include the Lagos Inland Revenue Service, LIRS, Vehicles Inspection Service, VIS, Tourism, Lottery Board, Commerce, LASAA and the Ministry of Finance”.
Ogunleye disclosed that “even though the constitution gave right of collection of levies to some levels of government, the state and local governments had been collaborating in the collection of certain taxes”. He said: “Some of the areas of collaboration are in the collection of Land Use Charge.
“We have put the tenement rate collection in the Land Use Charge which we give to them after collection. This was an agreement between us. Another example is LASAA. We help the local government to collect this tax and give it back to them. There is also the Wharf Landing Fees. This meeting will give us the opportunity to trash out areas of conflict and the way forward. The aim is to streamline revenue collection in the state between us and the local governments. There must be decorum; there should not be cases where the state collects and local governments want to collect again. We can solve the issues here once and for all”.
Similarly, Growth and Employment in the States (GEMS), an organization funded by UK Department for International Development (DfID), has urged the state government to setup a joint revenue committee to address frictions that often occurred in revenue collection. Representing the UK organisation, Mr. Daud Musa, tax adviser, said “the need for a joint tax committee was needed to urgently address the yearning of residents”.