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FIRS boss cautions against ICT inventions undermining tax collection

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The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Muhammad Nami, has cautioned tax administrators against the disruptive tendencies that were undermining the tax collection.

Nami warned that ICT based inventions like Blockchain, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence that were embedded in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, were greatly undermining the sector.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by the fusion of digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilisation of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies, among others.

Nami gave the warning while addressing some tax administrators from West African countries at a three-day Capacity Building Seminar, in Abuja on Tuesday.

The seminar was organised by West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF), and the Inter-American Center for Tax Administrations (CIAT).

The FIRS boss noted that while these technological innovations were beneficial to revenue agencies in their assigned national task, they were also detrimental to effective tax collection.

“Such technologies have disruptive tendencies because they have created new, fluid, hard-to-trace ways of doing business that makes it difficult for revenue agencies to tax their transactions.

“In the current world, disruptive technological innovations such as Blockchain technology, Machine Learning and the whole gamut of Artificial Intelligence (AI), have dire consequences for developing economies in terms of revenue loss and high staff turnover.

“The effects are also in the areas of staff dissatisfaction and deliberate `Headhunting’ of the very best of our employees by private entities that continue to deplete our workforce.

“It is important for us as managers of human resources in tax administrations, to recognise the dynamics of changes occurring in the world in terms of the way businesses are being done and reported.

“This is with a view to adjusting accordingly in order for these revenue agencies to meet their mandates to the government and people of their respective nations.’’

Nami said the seminar had provided an opportunity for capacity building and peer learning among tax administrators from different countries in the region.

He urged all participants to take advantage of the opportunities the training offered to enable them to forge knowledge-based collaborations that would turn challenges into opportunities for staff development.

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