By Ikenna Uwadileke, Abuja.
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Mr Muhammad Nami, has called for the harmonisation of tax systems among member states of Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA).
Nami made the appeal on Monday in Abuja at the 42nd Technical Conference of CATA with the theme: “Tax Administration in the Digital Era”.
The FIRS boss, who is also the President of CATA, described the proposed harmonisation as part of the reforms that must be taken for the governments to plug leakages and shore up revenue.
Nami said that in recent times, there had been an upsurge of disruptive technological innovations in the business environment.
“These have triggered peculiar issues that tax authorities are grappling with.
“The business world is in a state of flux; while the character of data and its management keep changing.
“Consequently, tax administrators are under compulsion to align their mandates with the changes arising from technological advancements.
“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,” he said.
Nami urged the 47 member states of CATA to brace to the challenges that technology had brought to the commercial space.
He said that in diverse ways, all members of CATA must deal with the challenges that transformational technology had 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?”
Nami urged participants to use the conference to produce a potpourri of ideas and solutions in a fast-changing world that required sophisticated strategies for problem-solving.
“Although these issues are emerging, many of our jurisdictions already have several innovative solutions to addressing them.
“The conference is the right platform to cross-breed ideas and share experiences we can all learn from.
“Furthermore, harmonisation of tax systems is on the front burner of the fiscal conversations in many jurisdictions.
“It is a reform that must happen for the governments to plug leakages and shore up revenue.
”Some jurisdictions have achieved this, and they testify to its advantage over the fragmented system.
“Others need to learn how, why and what jurisdictions that have harmonised their tax systems have to share,” he said.
Nami, however, underscored the importance of strategic partnership between CATA and other tax organisations.
While highlighting the need to work together, share experiences, and exchange notes and practices, Nami said: “Our individual development rests on us working collectively to achieve the short and long-term goals of the association.
“We must understand that the road ahead is still long, steep and daunting.
“Our challenges only get tougher, as we forge ahead because technology is transforming daily and the trends are novel and uncharted.
“As tax administrators of the Commonwealth heritage, it is fair to assume that our challenges, in this regard, would have similar identities and similar solutions.
“It is imperative that we take advantage of the occasion of this conference to share and discuss with one another the challenges we face and the solutions we are proffering.
“This conference will be an avenue to improve our individual capacities as tax authorities, as well as our collective strength as a body.”
The five-day conference brings together tax administrators, practitioners to proffer plausible solutions to the contemporary tax issues.