By Moses Uwagbale
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has said that each state government would receive $2.5 million performance-based grants for implementing tax relief programmes for individual taxpayers and businesses to mitigate COVID-19 impact.
The forum disclosed this in a statement issued by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF Secretariat, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, in Abuja after a virtual meeting jointly organised by the World Bank and the forum.
The forum, however, noted that only states that met the deadline and required conditions for the tax relief programme would benefit from the incentive.
The virtual meeting, according to the statement, was held under the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results, midwifed by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP).
“These efforts are being incentivised by a new Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI) under the FMFBNP World Bank $750 million SFTAS Programme for Results.
“Eligible States will be rewarded with USD2.5 million each in performance-based grants if they announce by July 31 and implement by Sept. 30 a tax compliance relief programme for individual taxpayers and businesses to mitigate the COVID-19 impact.
“However, there are criteria to be met if a state is to receive the $2.5m.
“These are that, State announcements should be signed by the commissioner of finance or the executive chairman of the State Internal Revenue Service and published on State websites and in national dailies to ensure widespread awareness amongst taxpayers.
“Furthermore, the State government should issue to their tax officials and collecting agents, guidelines for the implementation of the reliefs to ensure consistent execution by all and sundry.”
The statement disclosed that the 36 states were introducing tax relief programmes to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and individual taxpayers and ensure the speedy recovery of State economies.
The relief programmes initiated in states across board, according to the statement, have focused on five main tax activities.
These include extension of filing and payment dates, tax moratoriums, waivers or reduction of penalties and interests over the extension period.
It noted that while some states were also offering rebates or discounts on taxes paid within a specific period, others were allowing the payment of taxes, fees and levies among others in instalments.
Also, while state governments were currently experiencing a liquidity crisis of their own; and with limited capacity to borrow, it had become imperative that they find a balance between granting tax reliefs and maintaining revenues at a sustainable level.
“The extent to which government revenues will be impacted by these reliefs will depend on the type of relief that they grant and their ability to raise their tax efforts simultaneously, including offering incentives for greater tax compliance”, the statement said.