Nigeria’s tax to GDP ratio is one of the lowest in the world. At just 6%, it is far below the sub-Saharan African average of 20%, and the 15% considered to be necessary to fund adequate public services. Nigeria has long relied on revenues from oil, but recent production disruptions and low oil prices have led to dramatic declines in oil revenue, with exports falling by $11 billion last year.
This has led to a new focus on non-oil revenue. In May, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun stated: “We have an unacceptably low level of non-oil revenue and much of that is driven by a failure to collect tax revenues…We have a lot of work to do if we are going to build a sustainable revenue base that will deliver inclusive growth.”
The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Tunde Fowler echoed this message in July, asserting that “This is the time to fund the budget of the Federal Government from non-oil sources.”
In this context, and with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Centre for Tax and Development is launching the Nigerian Tax Research Network (NTRN).
Aims of the new Nigerian Tax Research Network
The NTRN is dedicated to enhancing the generation and exchange of tax knowledge in Nigeria. It is concerned with all topics related to taxation, ranging from tax policy to tax administration, and from academic papers to practical case studies.
The main objectives of the NTRN are to:
- Provide a platform for knowledge exchange and evidence-based debate on tax issues through workshops, conferences, and publications.
- Support the production of high-quality, policy-relevant research, especially that led and undertaken by Nigerian researchers, by providing funding and capacity development.
- Facilitate coordination and complementarity between existing projects and actors active in the area of taxation in Nigeria.
NTRN stakeholders consist of tax practitioners and researchers, as well as donors and civil society organisations working on tax issues in Nigeria, including FIRS, the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, and university tax clubs, among others.
The NTRN will be formally launched at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on September 12-14th. The theme of the event is “Revenue Beyond Oil Reliance.”
IDS Professorial Fellow and CEO of the ICTD, Professor Mick Moore, will open the event. As Moore says, “If Nigeria is to improve its tax performance, then more Nigerians need to engage in serious research to explore what other countries are doing and evaluate the options in the Nigerian context. The NTRN is intended to support this process.”
Professor Moore’s speech will be followed by a keynote address by the Chair of the NTRN, former FIRS Chairman Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, about the challenges of raising tax revenue in Nigeria and the crucial role of research.
Any media enquiries can be directed to Rhiannon McCluskey.