BY Abdullahi Olesin, Ilorin
To mitigate the effect of a drastic fall in its monthly allocations from the Federation Account, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara state established a revenue collection body, Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS).
KWIRS, instituted over two years ago replaced the state’s internal Revenue Board, in order to boost the revenue collection capability of the state through a change in people, process and technology.
KWIRS in over two years of its existence has multiplied the amount of money generated by the defunct body, Board of Internal Revenue through an efficient Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) mechanism.
Due to the effectiveness of KWIRS at opening up more collection points in the state with a turnover of more than 300 per cent in its first year of existence, the chairmen of the 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state handed over to KWIRS the contract of collection of all legally designed areas of taxes points in their respective councils.
The MoU with the councils has a high point sharing formula which is put at a ratio of 30 per cent (KWIRS) to 70 per cent (councils) under an arrangement named Joint Treasury Committee (JTC).
The results has been an incredible return of about N200 million in all the councils within months. For the year 2017, KWIRS has projected a sum of N664 million as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the entire 16 local government areas.
This development, according to economic watchers in the state, would no doubt assist the councils in churning out dividends of democracy to the rural dwellers.
The interesting aspect of it is that, the revenue collection body did not introduce new taxes but simply blocked the loopholes and enforced the payment of all forms of taxes electronically.
The state government, under the leadership of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed wants to rise from its current position to achieve the second highest IGR per capital in Nigeria by 2019 being convinced that the State has the population, commerce, resources and opportunities necessary for achieving a target of N60 billion annually.
Governor Ahmed has also approved a 5-year tax holiday for new small businesses in the state. These interventions, he said, will accelerate the informal sector by encouraging more intending entrepreneurs to start businesses without worrying about paying taxes until they are fully set up.
“Increase in revenues will not only enhance the lives of the people through better infrastructure but also see an increase in opportunities for collective prosperity”, the governor said.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are germane to the economic development of any country as they contribute to economic growth in both developed and developing countries.
An initial sum of N250 million was approved by the governor to kick start the scheme under the supervision of the Bureau of Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Till date, the state government has injected a total of N1.28 billion into the Scheme, leading to a turnover of N3 billion. Under this scheme, a total of 1,848 cooperative societies have benefited and the funding helped members of these societies spread across the State to grow their businesses, thereby promoting even development in the State.
About 53 associations under the aegis of Artisan Congress of Kwara state had benefited from the scheme. A total of 150 taxis, 25 buses, 193 motorcycles and 25 mini buses had been given out to beneficiaries across the state.
In its initiative to transform the landscape of Ilorin, stimulate commerce and attract investors, Governor Ahmed-led administration has commissioned an ultra-modern shopping and office complex- the Hub. A similar project of 48 Office spaces is been executed in Abuja.
Also, in line with the state government’s commitment to expand employment opportunities and entrepreneur development, a N500 million Computer village is under construction which will directly employ about 600 youths when fully operational apart from the hundreds of indirect jobs created in the process of the construction.
Recently, the state government commissioned 10 buses, Maigida Soludero Mass Transit (MST) purchased for the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) through a credit facility under its micro credit scheme.
Over 160 farmers’ associations across the State had also benefitted from the micro-credit funding under the State’s Off Taker Demand Driven Agriculture Scheme.
In all, the State’s MSME scheme has created economic opportunities and expanded the livelihoods of thousands of people with over 60, 000 people benefiting so far.