By JOHN ONAH, Abuja –
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has called on the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrator (CATA) and similar organisations to blend their voices to insist that skewed international tax rules be straightened for the good of all.
The Minister who made the call on Monday in Abuja during the 42nd annual technical conference, with the theme of this year’s conference, “Tax Administration in a Digital Era”.
She said the theme was very apt and timely considering that the business world had moved away from the “brick and mortal” model unto the fast-paced, globalised and digitalised model.
” Certainly, tax administrative processes must keep pace with changes in the business world. An African adage says “where the hunter has learnt to shoot without missing, the birds that would avoid the hunter’s soup-pot must learn to fly without perching”.
According to her, “since businesses are evolving from physical presence to virtual place, tax administrations must also shift gear unto the virtual realm.I am hoping that this conference will discuss and recommend solutions to some issues, such as:Digitalisation of Tax Administration
“It is a fact that the tax administrations of most developing countries are based on manual processes. In these tax administrations, ICT function is limited to provision of hardware and basic software in support capacity. Whereas, automation, large data, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities is central to effective tax administration”, he said.
She further opined that capabilities will enable tax authorities to do e-invoicing, pre-populate tax returns, carry out automated tax risk profiling, etc.Fair International Tax RulesThe current international tax rules are skewed against source countries; particularly, developing countries.
” Nigeria is glad that this year’s train of CATA has come to Abuja the second time following the 2010 conference hosted by this same beautiful city.It is noteworthy that this conference is coming on the heels of the very successful 7th General Assembly of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) held in Lagos a few weeks ago, she added.
“The choice of Nigeria, as a destination for these important international tax events, is not by accident. Nigeria has remained in the fore-front of the global efforts at finding equitable and lasting solutions to international tax issues, including:the long-standing issue of imbalance in the allocation of taxing rights between source and resident jurisdictions;information asymmetric between multinational enterprises and tax authorities in developing countries;the issue of base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS); and tax challenges of the digitalised economy; Over the past few years, our government committed huge monetary and human resources to champion the cause of developing countries. Painfully, the skewness in the current international tax rules is again influencing the two-pillar solution of the Inclusive Framework”.
On his part, the CATA President and the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad NAMI observed that the business world is in a state of flux; while the character of data and its management keeps changing.
“Consequently, tax administrators are under compulsion to align their mandates with the changes arising from technological advancement”.
According to him, in matching the pace of advancement in technology, tax administrators must remain bound by the laws, regulations and codes that safeguard the sourcing, storage, processing and management of data.
” In diverse ways, all members of CATA have to deal with the challenges that transformational technology has brought to the commercial space and stay ahead of the conversation.
” As revenue authorities with common political history, the questions, then are: How are we faring? What lessons can we learn from each other?It is for this reason that this year’s conference has the theme: “