The Joint Revenue Committee (JRC) on Monday 11 July 2016 held a press conference at the Kwara State Revenue House. The JRC is made up of Chairmen of all 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs) as members and the Executive Chairman, Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS), Dr Muritala Awodun as the Chairman of the committee. The purpose of the press conference was to clear misconceptions and respond to questions regarding LGA revenue collections.
Dr Muritala Awodun in his welcome address thanked the LGA Chairmen and gentlemen of the press present. He explained that the JRC was created by the Kwara State Revenue Administration Law No. 6 to stimulate the harmonisation of revenue collection in Kwara by the State and LGAs. He said since the inauguration of the committee in February 2016, the committee has consistently met monthly to appraise collections and improve collecting systems. He apprised that the press conference is an opportunity to enable the populace understand where we are, where we are coming from, and where we are going.
In his remarks, the Kwara State Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Barrister Abdullateef Okandeji mentioned that there has been a misconception of the autonomy of LGAs being eroded. He clarified that LGA Chairmen have not been coerced into the JRC and relationship with the KW-IRS has been that of mutual agreement. He stated that KW-IRS has been collecting revenue on behalf of LGAs, so far on a few items and on a basis of progression. He posited that LGAs have seen progress in collection by KW-IRS and have faith in the Service.
Substantiating Barrister Okandeji’s comments, the Executive Chairman said that the relationship between the Service and the LGAs is based on signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each LGA since February 2016. All LGAs as stated in the MOUs have conceded all 21 revenue items approved by law as the LG collection list. KW-IRS however commenced collection with only 4 items and have now progressed to about 6. He assured the residents of Kwara that the Service continues to learn and is ready to increase collections until all 21 items are being explored. As such, increased revenue as well as more effective processes can be expected. An illustration of this is the newly automated citizenship certificate which can be applied for at www.kw-irs.com/citizenship.
As responses to the questions of the press men, the General Secretary, ALGON mentioned that each LG strives to strengthen the revenue drive of KW-IRS by mobilising support from the populace through their respective LG Revenue Committees and soliciting support of the traditional leadership to synthesise awareness and enlighten the people at the committee level. The Baruten LGA Chairman added that the LGAs also rehabilitate previous LG revenue staff to ensure understanding and the proper utilisation of their skills through redeployment to other areas such as the treasury, and the reporting & monitoring of revenue collections.
The Executive Chairman, KW-IRS in his response to activities of the Service to address the conditions of markets stated that aside from collecting revenue, the Service has a responsibility to ensure strategic development of the state. He informed those present of the KW-IRS Community Impact Program which focuses on giving back to the people. He apprised that KW-IRS has responded to the requests of various markets and this includes the clearing of abattoir at the Ipata Market, construction of ultra-modern public toilets at Ago Market, cleaning of 4 years refuse at Alapa market, sinking of borehole and on-going projects such as the fencing of Kara market and the reconstruction of 40 burnt shops at the Baboko Market.
Dr Awodun posited that the Service listens and responds to the challenges of the people having recognised that response from the State and Local Governments might take longer since they have to focus on fulfilling primary obligations such as the payment of salaries before they can commence developmental projects. He added that such projects can only be possible if revenue is raised significantly and it is with the support of the people that this can be achieved.
Dr Awodun further expressed that viability lies in every Local and State Government; Nigeria is after all a blessed country. Viability he said is about perception and management. He posited that federal allocation is no longer viable, in his words, “we have been fed so long we do not know how to cook.” As such viability, he said lies in the readiness and ability to explore internal resources.
The JRC emphasised that revenue collected by KW-IRS on their behalf still belongs to the appropriate LG for whom the revenue was collected. The committee also reiterated that collections are remitted to the LGs monthly as appropriate. The members also enjoined the media houses to ensure information is reported in the proper perspective.
The KW-IRS Director, Admin and Corporate Affairs, Mrs Adenike Babajamu in her vote of thanks appreciated the LGA Chairmen and gentlemen of the press enjoined them for better cooperation so that more revenue can be generated and people can be better informed.