The Chairman, of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, Taiwo Oyedele has dismissed rumours stipulating that the committee intends to employ area boys to enforce the payment and collection of tax.
Oyedele was quoted suggesting that Area Boys could undergo training for tax collection, and be paid a decent salary in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
“We’re also thinking about how you bring all stakeholders on board because at the end of the day, if you stop the livelihood of anyone, whether they are earning it legitimately or not, you can create crises that would be difficult to manage but once you bring everybody in, maybe we need to train those area boys and touts, give them uniforms and then they’ll be the ones to ask you to show the evidence on your phone, right?
“And then they get paid a decent salary. And if you give them the skills, some of them will on their own, move on from that job to something else, right? So, our strategy is let’s think about what’s best for our country and get all stakeholders to align. We do think that all the stakeholders including the government want the best for their country and we just need to make them see that big picture and then come along with us. That’s the plan that we have”, Oyedele was quoted to have said in the interview with Channels TV.
However, in a statement shared on his official X account on Saturday, Oyedele said he was quoted out of context.
According to him, the area boys in question were already doing the job of enforcing tax payment and collection, so they could not be recruited to do a job they were already engaged in.
He said, “You cannot recruit a person to do the job they are already doing, whether they are legally engaged or otherwise. We have over 40 taxes and levies which States and Local Governments are authorised by law to collect across Nigeria including road taxes on trucks, buses and bicycles, wheelbarrows, kiosks and shop levies.
“In many cases, area boys are engaged to collect these taxes which they often do through crude, unorthodox means and harassment.”
He added that despite the enforcement, the taxes paid yield a meagre revenue as against what is expected.
“Painfully, these taxes yield very little revenue to the government despite the huge burden they place on small businesses, artisans and transporters. We propose to eliminate many of these taxes and harmonise a few of them that may be appropriate and devise a civil means of collection using mobile phones.
“The issue I addressed during my interview on Channels TV, which has been sensationalised and taken out of context, was how to get the buy-in of those who currently collect these taxes (and benefit from doing so beyond whatever they are being paid officially). I did not mention any words like recruit or employ.
You can watch the extract here https://youtu.be/PeM4bf-N3DI?si=0fYY8u04L_35aMzk…
“My thought on it beyond the legal aspect was to consider the social dimension and find a practical solution that has a high chance of success. The idea is that the government could train the collectors to behave in a civilised manner and pay them decently so that it is comparable to what they currently make.
“Their new role will be to drive and monitor compliance. The payers will pay less and be treated with dignity. Government will earn more, and society will benefit – a win-win outcome for everyone”, he added.