Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in Nigeria have identified tax, regulatory and government policy as the most important ‘stay awake’ issues for them.

The critical concern is closely followed by those arising from internal challenges such as margin enhancement, growth and cost optimisation.

These findings were revealed in the 2018 KPMG CFO Outlook survey report that was presented at the KPMG CFO forum in Lagos, recently.

The report showed that only 46 percent of the CFOs who were surveyed were optimistic about the prospects of growth in 2018 compared to 2017.

Partner and head, Audit Services at KPMG in Nigeria, Tola Adeyemi, explained that “the overriding sentiment is that there is still a lot more that needs to be done to make this issue of ease of doing business a reality. Only 15 percent said government efforts to improve the ease of business were seen as effective, 45 percent of the CFOs were neutral and 40 percent said the efforts were ineffective.”

Presenting the CFO outlook survey report, Adeyemi said CFOs and heads of finance in leading organisations across all major sectors in Nigeria shared their opinions on the outlook for their businesses, their strategies for cost and risk management and the priorities for an enabling environment. The survey report also includes revelations around what CFOs believe that the government should prioritise to create an enabling environment.

On his part, the executive chairman, FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, who delivered the keynote address titled ‘Outlook for tax administration in Nigeria and opportunities for enhanced collaboration with the private sector’, said, “the country faces a huge infrastructure deficit, as documented in the recently launched Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). Nigeria needs to invest USD3 trillion in infrastructure over the next 30 years.’’

He furthered said that taxation will play a key role in the development process by providing the needed resources to fund government developmental projects and programmes, as the federal government alone cannot provide these resources.

Speaking on some of the advancements done by the institution, Fowler said, “The FIRS has taken bold steps aimed at broadening its tax base and increasing tax collection. In collaboration with other relevant government agencies, the FIRS also undertook a massive nationwide registration exercise of new taxpayers in 2016”.