President Muhammadu Buhari today approved the extension of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme’s (VAIDS’) implementation by three months to June 30, 2018.
A statement confirming the extension of the scheme’s implementation after the original March 31 deadline issued by the Special Adviser Media & Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, indicated that the decision was based on the appeals of professional bodies and individual taxpayers.
Adesina confirmed that a fresh Executive Order would be made to give legal backing to the new timeline, adding however that the new deadline would not be extended further.
According to him, the President explained that the new date was also given, based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance will be attained, and additional revenue will accrue to government’s coffers in the 90-day period.
President Buhari said: “For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world. Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself.
“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potential, these must stop”, he added.
The President urged tax-paying companies and individuals to join government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularize.”
While noting that the right thing may not be convenient or comfortable, “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of”, the President urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who fail to regularize their tax status.
VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to reposition the Nigerian economy and correct inherited under-development.
The country has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just 6% of GDP. This was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw us abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had last year launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the VAIDS tax amnesty is the first in the series of reforms that will transform the nation’s tax system and provide sustainable predictable funding for all tiers of government.
Tax revenues will promote tax justice, ensure that public infrastructure is provided and public services are funded to improve the lives of the people.