We’re deploying better methods to boost IGR —KWIRS chairman

IN Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, any non-indigene of the state could get a certificate of local government or state government of origin at any of business centre at the popular Post Office, Challenge or Unity areas of the town in a matter of jiffy and at negotiable price.

For instance, these ‘indigenship’ certificates are demanded from student applicants to gain admission into state-owned tertiary institutions like Kwara State Polytechnic and Kwara State University (KWASU), the College of Education, among others.

Also, many officials of different ministries, board of internal revenues have been arrested with fake receipt booklets to swindle the state government and local governments and thereby denying the government of appreciable revenue.

It was also gathered that many heads of tertiary institutions have been discovered to be under-reporting or under-declaring their revenue accounts to relevant government agencies.

While all these cases kept on going increasingly unchecked or became intractable at a point due to connivance and complicity of some top government officials, the state government was also plunged into 60 per cent reduction in statutory allocation derivable from monthly federal government allocation.

Thus, the birth of Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS), which came into operation six months ago, with the task of blocking all leakages in revenue collection and administration, towards achieving an increased revenue generation and securing sustainable future for the state.

It is recalled that Kwara State that had hitherto been collecting an average of N2.5 billion monthly federal allocation now receives as low as N700 million monthly.

Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, the chairman of the state internal revenue service, Dr. Muritala Awodun, who said that the plan of the service was based on changing the method of revenue collection by deploying “new people, new process and new technology”, added that the KWIRS has collected a total of N8.09 billion into the coffers of the state for the first half of 2016 alone.

He said the agency had plans to move into enforcement of tax payment beginning from July this year.

Dr. Muritala Awodun, who said the figures were higher than the total of N7.2 billion collected for the whole of 2015 by the defunct Board of Internal Revenue in the state, gave a breakdown of the figures.

Awodun said the service raked N997 million in January when it began full operations, N1.05 billion in February, N1.25 billion in March and 2.07 billion in April. It also collected a total of N1.45 billion in May and has so far in June collected a total of N1.3 billion.

Of the total amount, Awodun said N5.002 billion was shared as state revenue while N3.097 billion was set aside as retained earnings.

He attributed the huge collection to the ability of the Service to block revenue leakages citing the example of tertiary institutions in the state that until now used to allegedly under-report their revenue while still collecting monthly subvention from government.

Awodun also explained that contrary to concerns being expressed in some quarters, the Service was not implementing any new tax law but was merely enforcing existing ones that had been either abused or left unobserved by previous administrations.

He also denied that the service had taken over the tax duties of local government areas saying the agreement between the council and the KWIRS is to collect only four out of the 21 items approved for local government by law and that even that collection would only start from July this year.

One of such items according to him is the issuance of Certificate of Origin which he noted was being abused by those in charge but which will now be issued online by the Service from July this year.

“We are doing our tax collection with a human face and that is why we engage all possible avenues for settlement rather than going to court. We have used this method effectively particularly on banks in the state but from July we shall begin serious enforcement. There is nothing like overtaxing the people; our strategy for 2016 is to block all leakages, enforce what is in the law and not charge new taxes.

“And it is yielding good result. For instance our PAYE collection has moved from N200 million to N450 million. The TSA revealed that there was under-declaration of revenue by institutions and parastatals,” he said.

He denied insinuation that popular soft drink manufacturer, Coca-Cola, relocated from the state due to high tax demand and that owners of fish ponds were being made to pay exorbitant tax for their operations.