By Bitrus Osagie
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its state Accountability, Transparency and Effectiveness (State2State) project has recognised the effort of the Executive Chairman of Gombe State Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Mallam Abubakar Inuwa Tata for bringing currency to the operation of the Gombe State Fiscal Responsibility Commission, while reforming the Gombe State Internal Revenue Service.
The recently approved report of USAID State2State project outlined the significant contribution of Mallam Tata who is a World Bank scholar and Columbia University trained economist for registering the activities of the Commission on world map with the publication of its flagship report, “Understanding Gombe State Budget and Financial Statement of the Commission”, for the first time in its seven (7) years of existence.
The flagship report analysed the sectoral breakdown of revenue, expenditure, and financing, including internal and external risks to the implementation of the budget, risk mitigation measures, and disclosure.
The report recommended an aggressive but sustainable revenue drive covering all areas of tax and non-tax revenues. On the expenditure side, the report recommends stringent fiscal measures such as strict adherence to financial regulation, fiscal responsibility, and due process in the conduct of government business, as well as the establishment of a cash management committee and efficiency unit.
It also recommends speedy passage of the procurement bill, the new tax law, the revision of financial regulations, and the subsequent enactment of the financial regulations into law, among many others.
The agency also recognised the reforms of Tata while serving as the Executive Chairman, Gombe State Internal Revenue Service (2020–2022), where he midwifed far reaching reforms at the sub-national level and was tagged as a Champion by the State2State project due to his enormous contribution to the state.
Our correspondent reports that Tata had successfully initiated and completed tax and revenue reforms in Gombe State by conducting a comprehensive review of the Gombe State Revenue Law, strengthening governance structure in the Service, prohibiting cash collection in revenue administration, digitalizing the revenue collection process, and strengthening the internal control process.
His reforms helped significantly reduced leakages and improved collections from N6.8 billion in 2019 to N8.6 billion in 2020, N10.5 billion in 2021, and N13.24 billion in 2022, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a feat that has not been achieved in the history of Gombe State to date.
The reform undertaken by the Columbia University Ambassador under public sector reform (SFTAS) has earned the State Government a non-debt grant of USD6.5 million. Before completing his reforms in October 2022, which touch on all aspects of tax administration from registration, assessment, returns, collection, compliance monitoring, compliance enforcement, sanction, taxpayer education, and awareness.