Mr. Olusegun Olaniyi is the Director of Informal Sector, Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS). In this interview with PILOT HEAD OF BUSINESS DESK, MATTHEW DENIS, he speaks on the performance in its core responsibility of revenue collection as well as community impact programms among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
The KWIRS made a projection of N34billion for the year 2017, how far has the agency been able to meet its target, considering the fact that we are in the third quarter of the year?
We had a budget of N37 billion, which was reviewed downward to N34 billion for the year 2017. We set out strategies with the plan to achieve that, but as you know with the economic situation, it has been somewhat tasking. So far, we haven’t been able to achieve that in equal instalment that will make up N34billion, but as at August ending we have realised about N14.7 billion. The question to ask is, are you going to meet the N34 billion within four months or before the year runs out? We are not giving chances as we are forging ahead, focused and also reviewing our positions on daily basis and with God on our side we’ll do more than what we did in the previous year. However, realising the N34 billion will be an herculean task.
Do you envisage the proposed tax holiday or waiver for new companies by the state government having effect on tax collection in the state?
The tax holiday or amnesty is the perogative of the state government but we initiated it and that initiation has not been consummated. There are criteria to meet for Small and Medium Enterprises to benefit from. It is not a blanket approval and it is wrong for anybody who is in small business enterprise to assume he will not pay taxes. The criteria for companies to meet are there and those things are being worked out. We are going to pass it to Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed and when he processes and resend, then it will be enforced.
One of the criteria is that there must be a minimum of five people in your employment from whom will attract payee tax and the level of compliance in paying your tax will also be considered. It is not as if the Governor will wake up one day and say all the businesses that falls within this category will not pay taxes, no; there are criteria just like we have in the Voluntary Asset Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), there are laid down rules for the tax amnesty. Nobody has enjoyed it for now and we have set the criteria and it will be rolled out someday.
Not much has been heard of the agency’s community impact project lately, why is this so?
The community impact project is not on hold, the agency is working assiduously to review the programmes for effective performance to the beneficiary of tax payers in the state. We are reviewing the programme to add more value so that when we kick off again there will be greater improvement. We did a lot last year and we have done more this year, but comparatively, last year we had more programmes based on our ‘5Es’- Education, Empowerment, Environment, Employment and Enterprise. So, we will continue. We are still carrying on with the tax club competition in various schools across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Can you give insight into the KWRIN programme?
The Kwara Residents Identification Number (KWRIN) is for all our tax payers. And this is capture in any form of tax either at the state or local government level . Though, we cannot capture all the houses in Kwara within two years in a state that has been in existence for 50 years. There is difference between enumerating houses and Kwara Residents Identification Number. Identification number is for people that are paying taxes, it is different from doing street numbering. So whether by voluntary or enforcement once there is an opportunity for people to pay tax, we give identification number which becomes a reference for you to pay tax either now or in the future.
The enumeration exercise is a continues process because people will leave the state to other states and some people will also come to stay in the state, some people of tax paying status will die and also new people will enter the tax bracket too. So, we are doing the enumeration on daily basis and our staff have been trained to look out for new targets on individuals, properties, businesses and we also collaborating with agencies that have opportunity of database of Kwara residents.