The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to address some of the gaps identified in the implementation of the ease of doing business reforms. Specifically, it called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service to address the challenges being experienced in its technology infrastructure to make it easier for taxpayers to process tax clearance certificate. The Chairman of ICAN Abuja Chapter, Mr Oluwafunminiyin Akande, said these in Abuja at a seminar on ease of doing business.. He said while the service had made some progress over the years in simplifying the process of tax payment, there are some identified gaps that had yet to be addressed.
He said that the electronic filing system of the service needed to be worked on to cushion the impact of system failure which it had recorded within the last few weeks. Akande said that between January and the end of February, the FIRS e-filing and electronic delivery platforms were completely shut down. The development, according to him, made it difficult for tax practitioners to conduct tax related businesses with the service. He said, “Government has been saying so many things about making the environment to be friendly but we the practitioners know that we haven’t got there yet. “The policymakers and practitioners must meet regularly to discuss the areas that are not working yet. If we don’t give them the feedback, they won’t know how to improve. That is the reason why we are organising this programme. “We have identified so many gaps. For instance, the FIRS has been talking about e-filing, electronic delivery and others but you discovered that it hasn’t been fully achieved. “From January till the end of February, their network was completely shut down. This means that as tax practitioners, you cannot process tax clearance and e-filing for your clients. “Meanwhile, there are penalties attached to some of these things. Apart from what it costs you, there is need to be going there every day because you don’t know the time the network will be working. “How can you shut down your system for two months? Can such thing happen in a bank? So, until we start thinking in that way, the government agencies will not improve. “So if we don’t tell them, they won’t know how we feel. That is one of the gaps.” He also said the time it takes the FIRS to process Tax Identification Number and Tax Clearance Certificate needed to be reduced as it was currently taking the service longer than even the approved period to process them. He said, “They will also tell you that tax clearance certificate can be obtained within 14 days but it doesn’t work. You will get there to collect Tax Identification Number which ordinarily should be given to you on the spot but they will tell you to come back, and when you return, they will tell you network is not working.”