by crossriverwatch admin
The Ogoja Local Government Council through the support of the Growth and Employment in States (GEMS3) a UK-DFID funded program launched an automated revenue collection system on the 27th of February 2014.
The colorful event hosted by Hon. Rita Ayim the Chairman of Ogoja LG, attracted stakeholders from the business community, the Paramount Ruler of Ogoja, community leaders, security agencies, tax officials of the council, partner bankers and the general public.
This launch was a culmination of a comprehensive GEMS3 facilitated process including the review, streamlining and harmonization of old rates jointly with the representatives of the Ogoja private sector and the Council in working committees, training of revenue collectors and information officers and partnerships with samrtgov.com and Ecobank Plc.
Revenue subheads numbering over 200 have now been reduced to 14 easy-to-understand categories for ease of implementation.
In this new scheme revenue officers will use POS machines to collect revenue (cash) and issue automated receipts instantly debited and later reconciled to one central account accessible for remote inspection at any given time by the Council.
The State Manager of GEMS3, Geraldine Oku, thanking the Council and the people of Ogoja, expressed optimism that with this new system, the IGR of the council would increase while the burden on citizens from multiple taxation and inefficient collection would reduce enabling the LG increase investment in projects that would touch the lives of tax payers.
Special mention was made about GEMS3 focus on women and the poor benefiting massively from the intervention and its commitment to support the process.
Mr. Graham Burnett, GEMS3 Country Tax Adviser further reinforced this stand. Mr. Essien Ukorebi the State GEMS3 tax expert said the new collection system will regulate and monitor both tax payers and tax collectors, reduce leakages in the system and support tax for service.
Smartgov Limited, the technical supporters of the tax administration process, likened the POS machine to innovative lines of the GSM and the ATM systems which are making transactions in Nigeria very easy and time saving.
Mr. Kinsley Okhae of Ecobank Plc also likened the change to that which GSM brought to Nigeria and ATM to the banking sector, stating that electronic based transactions are helping to reduce fraud and increase efficiency.
He also Thanked GEMS3 and Hon. Rita Ayim the council boss for taking steps to be amongst the first to launch the POS Collection System.
Mr. Obko Atimba of the First Bank Nig Plc also pledged to support the process. While speaking with our reporter, the Revenue officer of the Council, Mrs. Elom Julia, expressed optimism that all revenue collection officers have been trained by GEMS3 to master the machines and the processes to be applied and that will bring good results.
The Amalgamated Traders Association, Ogoja branch, represented by the Secretary Mr. Uche David expressed joy over the initiative and stated that it will be a plus to the government and the business community.
Mr. Uche David happily stated that for the first time ever his association was part of the working committee to harmonize LG revenue rates and that they came to agreement with the final results.
The secretary to council Mr. Aninege Jimmie, also stated that for the first time Government is sitting with stakeholders to deliberate on matters of taxation and economic planning and that this would be the new norm in Ogoja LG.
The Council Boss, Hon. Rita Agbo Ayim, in her speech thanked UK-DFID funded Program, GEMS3 for coming up with such a transparent tax system knowing that her administration inherited a less than efficient Tax Administration characterized by dwindling finances from Tax Receipts, leakages and poor communication between the local Government and its key stakeholders.
She further stated that the constraint has persisted over the years and necessitated the reform to sanitize the system, reduce the burden on our tax payers and indeed increase the internally generated revenue of the Local Government Council to enable it deliver on its promises to it citizens.
The tax harmonization and collection project just launched in Ogoja LG began as pilots in Calabar South, Ikom and Calabar Municipal Councils.
Ogoja, Boki, Yala, Yakurr, Akpabuyo and Obubra LGs fall under the scale-up group.
Ogoja LG under the Chairmanship of Hon Rita Ayim is the first scale up LG to finalize all preparatory requirements to launch the POS Collection System.
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