BABATUNDE FOWLER: EXCELLENCE IN TAX ADMINISTRATION
The news filtered in that Dr. Babatunde Fowler has been appointed Acting Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) by President Buhari. This, again, is an indication that President Buhari has indeed resolved to put a square peg in a square hole.
Dr. Babatunde Fowler is a tested and trusted, seasoned technocrat and administrator. Educated in the United States of America at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he obtained a Bachelor's degree with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Political Science in 1978. He completed a second bachelor's degree program at California State University, Los Angeles and also a Master of Business Administration degree program at California State University, Dominguez Hills 1981. His career span covers sensitive areas of International Finance, banking capped with his sterling performance as former chief tax collector for Lagos state.
He re-engineered Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue to become autonomous by ensuring the passage into law of Lagos State Administration Revenue Administration Law in 2006 (the first revenue board to become autonomous in Nigeria)
Between 2006 and 2013, there was sharp increase in internally generated revenue from an average of N3.6bn per month in January 2006 to an average of over N20.6bn per month in 2014. This represents 472% increase over a period of 7 years. He achieved this feat by ensuring quality service delivery and upscaling other tools and methods of tax administration in Lagos state. This landmark achievement, made Lagos state the only state in Nigeria that generates internal revenue more than monthly allocation from Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Nigeria tax to GDP is reported as 6% (excluding oil) and Nigeria's 2015 budget benchmark is $52/ barrel but OPEC daily basket stood at $44.13 a barrel, yesterday Thursday 20th August 2015. The implication of this is huge budget deficit and no inflow into Excess Crude account. No doubt, this innovative man is eminently qualified for this job in an era of world-wide oil glut having displayed expertise in shoring up, by huge percentage, the IGR of the an unarguably complex Lagos State- densely populated and economic nerve centre of Nigeria.
I believe that Dr. Fowler will push for the implementation of National Tax Policy to increase our tax base, review tax waivers and exemptions particularly those of pioneer status, execute all measures that will increase federally collectable revenue to enable the Federal Government meet up with the ever rising demands of Nigerian people. It will definitely be challenging, but he has done it before and he can do it again, even more!
Written by Omole Kolawole.