AKHERE Godwin, Benin
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has taken steps to boost the Internally Generated Revenue of the state by inaugurating the Edo State Internal Revenue Service Board.
Speaking while inaugurating the Board in his office, Wednesday, the Governor said there was the need to build strong institutions rather than strong individuals if the country is to make progress in the comity of nations.
“We have since established the Edo State Board of Internal Revenue and the whole idea is to create an institution that is not going to be bogged down by the usual civil service bureaucracy. We do need to be able to collect taxes and to collect efficiently and to ensure that taxes collected are all reflected in the accounts of Government.
“The taxes we collect, small as it has even reduced and yet government is still working on projects in various areas. The Federal Government immediately after the elections abandoned their projects. We will not deceive our people at the eve of election, for us service is the basis why we are in government and we must sustain it.
“Some of the modest achievements we have made are the result of meticulous planning, but also a determination to do things differently. The basis for the last election campaign was change. We have changed not just the president, we have changed the way Nigerian is governed, and we have changed the way Edo State is governed. So these reforms are an attempt to make these changes a reality.
“Today I am proud to say to our people that we are one of the few states, maybe not up to ten or fifteen states across the country that is able to pay salaries as at when due and as the economy deteriorates further the challenge will become even much tougher and as they say tough times don’t last, tough people do”, he said.
“It is the outcome of the taxes that the people pay. That people can connect the progress they see with the contribution they are making. They have a sense of ownership of the projects that are going on. We want people to live in Edo State, stronger, better and with more institutions. The governor will be there for you but not be able to dictate to institutions what to do or not to do, believing that the institutions themselves have the enabling law that directs your actions”, he noted.
He charged the board to “block all leakages, block all loopholes, enhance efficiency and because we are in a democracy, we have to show respect to citizens who are expected to pay tax. Even when we find that someone has refused to pay tax, we are not at liberty to resort to primitive or harsh military-like approach compelling people to comply with tax laws.
“The laws of Nigeria are clear. When a citizen infringes on a law, the only option is to take them to court. Only a court can pronounce guilt or declare any one innocent. The best you do is to charge and prosecute. I expect having been set up, this is the second phase, we are going ahead to establish what will eventually become an autonomous service”, he said.
“This is part of our continuing reforms of the institutions of government and our hope is that at the end of the day the Internal Revenue Service, just like the ICT will be an autonomous body. Let me assure the civil servants that when we carry out this reform, it is not going to lead to loss of jobs, it is just that we cannot continue to run the country the way it has been and certainly we cannot run Edo State the way it has been.”