The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has reaffirmed its renewed efforts in leveraging cutting-edge technology and effective advocacy to significantly enhance the state’s revenue generation.
The Executive Chairman, LIRS, Mr Ayodele Subair, made this known while speaking in an interview on The Tax Talk, a newly launched 30-minute public enlightenment television programme on taxation, monitored on Channels Television recently.
The Tax Talk, an LIRS production, is broadcast every week on TVC, Channels, LTV and WAP TV.
While speaking on the programme, Subair noted that the use of technology has helped the agency in optimizing its operations while also enhancing revenue generation for the state.
He lauded President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for introducing the use of technology in the generation of the state revenue during his tenure as the state governor.
According to him, past governors such as Babatunde Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode, and the current governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu also made efforts in upholding the autonomy of LIRS, which has led to a notable level of effectiveness.
Subair noted, “One of the first things we did was to look at the market, the taxpayers and then we did some element of market segmentation, recognizing that there are some players in the market who work in an unstructured environment, some work in a structured environment, formal and informal.
“We looked at the situation where we have high net worth individuals, and then we set up shop to make sure that we plan to cater for the different needs of the different segments of taxpayers. So having done that, we looked at our processes, did a lot of process reengineering, and looked at removing all the things that would make our jobs longer or more difficult. We also looked at the staffing arrangements, we looked at human resources and designed a whole set of training programs to ensure that everybody is up to the task.”
Speaking further, he said; “We looked at the applications that we had in place in terms of the software. How efficient were they? How easy was it for members of the public to access and also to understand? So, we came up with the e-tax application, which is an end-to-end tax administrative solution.
“It runs through the whole process, right from registration to raising of assessments, up to the filing of tax returns, making payments through the various payment channels, the ability to print out the receipts, and of course, at the end of the day, generate tax clearance certificates. So, with that in place, it’s gone a long way.
According to him, “If we did not introduce technology, no, doubt, we’re going to have very, very limited success. We have our e-tax and we also have our IBILE hub software to take care of the informal sector. One of the key features of the IBILE hub software is that it allows instalment payments from members of the sector.
“With the e-tax solution, people no longer have to troop and come to LIRS offices. From the comfort of their homes, they can carry out all their tax business, all the things that had issues in the past, that had problems, that created tension between the public and members of the organization, all these have been taken out completely. And there’s the ease of doing business. So, with this, move in that direction, we expect to move the revenue upwards continually. We’re quite confident that we will get there.
“We’re exploring constantly and bringing initiatives on how we can leverage fully on technology. We intend to set up some research unit that will delve more into technology to see how it can be relevant to our operations and of course, to the benefit of taxpayers. We’re constantly looking at how we can make tax experience very easy for members of the public.”
The LIRS chairman said the use of advocacy has also played a big role in its tax administration, as the agency makes it a priority to always engage taxpayers and stakeholders.
“The key thing in tax administration is for you to be positive all the time. You should never have a cannot do spirit. So, we were quite optimistic. All we have to do is continue to improve on advocacy and remind residents of Lagos that there’s a social contract.
“They expect so many things from the government, the government also expects them to carry out their civic duties. So, we expect that members of the public who come and file, not just file their return, they file honestly and pay the appropriate taxes when the tax is due. One thing that drives this is there’s a certain level of mistrust between the people and the government.
“Part of our duty is to try and bridge that gap and remove all the elements of distrust from members of the public because where members of the public start to trust the government in place, that is what is helping Lagos to drive revenue. People come to Lagos; they can see the level of development; they can see the level of growth in the system.
“You can also see that members of the public get highly qualitative, social utilities to use and social services like schools, hospitals, and all the expectations. So, we might not exactly be where we want to be. But we are certainly moving in that direction. And if you compare Lagos state with all the other states in Nigeria, the difference is very clear. So, we’re very optimistic that we will continue to push continue to improve on advocacy,” he submitted.