The former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, said she did not engage consultancy service during her tenure in FIRS because of its long term disadvantages.
She told the News Agency of Nigeria in Nairobi, Kenya, on the sidelines of the 5th Pan African Conference on curbing Illicit Financial Crimes from Africa, that the use of consultants in revenue activities could cripple tax institutions.
She added that when she was the chairman of the Nigerian tax agency, she chose to work with staff of FIRS to build their capacity and ensure continuity.
“It boils down to capacity and this is where I have been in the forefront of the issue of tax consultants.
“As much as I would have used tax consultants throughout my tenure and make revenue easy; in the short run, you will raise revenue but in the long run you don’t.
“The most harmful part of it is that you are not building capacity within the institution.
“I believe in revenue authorities in federal, state and local governments. It is not about having at the back of your mind that you want to raise revenue, but you must know for what period you want to raise revenue.
“It is about building an institution that will give you sustainable revenue; building an institution that will give you professionals because the laws are there.
“There is a law that says you should operate at arm’s-length; and you need a skill to apply those laws. It is not about going to school; school gives you foundation but skill means you have done it over and again,” she said.
She added that building the staff capacity of tax institutions would ensure that the agenda of a government was driven on the long run.
Omoigui-Okauru, however, stressed that governments of African countries should, on their own part, ensure that the revenue was appropriately utilised.
She said that leaders should not seek short term results but to look at the advantage of long term investment in building capacity of tax institutions for continuity.
“I am not there today, somebody else has taken over; when he leaves another person will take over. Let it be that as we are passing the baton from one party to another, what we are doing is strengthening the institution and handing over to younger people.
“Younger people will see hope that they have a career in front of them and therefore they will want to devote most of their career to that institution.
“There is never enough legislation but even for the ones we have, we must apply them better while we continue to refine the laws. I am not for always changing the law, so let us implement existing law while we improve it,” she said.
She called on African leaders to champion the drive to curb illicit financial flows from the continent.