Knowledge Hub webinar- Beyond raising revenues: Tackling barriers to building stronger tax-governance links in Nigeria
Date: 23/04/2021
Duration: 15:00-16:00 (BST)
Location: Online

Promoting global prosperity

In this webinar, Commonwealth Alumnus Uzochukwu Alutu will discuss alternative approaches to taxation and reform actions in relation to the Nigerian context. With Nigeria’s huge SDG financing gap and the pressure on its budgets occasioned by the declining revenue from ‘captive’ sources, as well as the additional fiscal and socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to improve non-resource based domestic revenue  is well established as a priority policy agenda. Mobilising domestic revenue will mostly entail increase in tax revenue either through base expansion or through rate increase.

While it is conventional wisdom to expect that increases in taxes will lead to widespread governance improvements (by generating more accountability and a stronger contract), this is however not the case in reality. As long as government productivity remains low, increased taxation may result in low reciprocity on the part of government, wastage of scare resources and poorer development outcomes. The immediate impact of this is a higher trust deficit on the part of citizens in the ability of government to deliver far-reaching governance improvements. An increased lack of trust in government by citizens will likely to result in higher costs to government for driving tax compliance and could ultimately result in a weakened fiscal social contract. In order to build trust, the most urgent reform challenge may not be to increase revenue collection, but to transform the character of existing service delivery institutions in a manner that will yield satisfied citizens.

It is therefore important to look beyond the naive belief in the potential for taxes to stimulate broader governance benefits to begin to consider the structural problems that do not make for a strong fiscal contract between government and citizens. Beyond strengthening revenue administration systems, governments also need to build trust by ensuring that they offer the most in return for the financial resources it extracts from citizens and businesses by way of taxation. This will require a refunctioning of service delivery institutions and a reinforcement of the fiscal social contract to ensure that taxation is fair, equitable, inclusive, transparent and linked to delivery of effective services.

The presentation will look beyond the already difficult task of raising more revenue to consider the required alternative approaches and reform actions that would complement the revenue raising efforts of revenue generating agencies and ensure greater compliance of citizens.

The webinar will last for approximately 1 hour, including a Q&A session.

The CSC’s Knowledge Hub webinar series is open to Hub members. Through the series, Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni will discuss their work and contribution to development across a range of contemporary global challenges, and provide insight into ongoing research and action. You can watch previous webinars on the CSC’s YouTube channel.

Mr Uzochukwu Alutu is a 2014 Commonwealth Shared Scholar from Nigeria. He is an economist, public finance/policy analyst and development programming expert with more than seven years’ experience assisting governments in Nigeria to strengthen governance systems in evidence-informed ways. He was among exceptional graduates (first class honours) at the University of Benin, clinching seven prizes as best graduating student in the Faculty of Social Sciences. In 2013, he was selected as one of the six recipients of the Governor Peter Obi award for Academic Excellence. Alutu obtained an MSc in Applied Economics (with Distinction) in 2015 from the University of Strathclyde as a Commonwealth Scholar.

Alutu now works with the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS as Economic Reform Programme Manager. Prior to this time, Alutu gained relevant experience in economic policy research and social protection programming with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Office of the Vice President respectively. While at NGF, Alutu worked with advisors from DFID (now FCDO), World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on issues relating to governance at the sub-national level. At the Office of the Vice President, he worked closely with the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment as a Technical Assistant. He has also worked closely with colleagues from World Bank and UNICEF as part of the policy formulation, design, and preliminary implementation phase of the social protection programs. These roles have exposed him to the workings of both sub-national and central governments in Nigeria and to the nuances of planning and running a program of national scale.

Alutu has rendered a number of short-term and extended consultancy services in the past with DFID (now FCDO) projects and other public sector reform institutions in Nigeria. His core areas of interest and expertise include: Political Economy Analysis (PEA); macro-fiscal analysis; cost-benefit appraisals of programmes and policies; government productivity and institutional strengthening support; and tax governance. He has written (independently and in collaboration with other pundits) up to 15 monographs on topics related to these areas of interest, some of which are published.