Co-ordinated Policy Key to Effective COVID-19 Tax and Fiscal Stimulus Measures - Yomi Olugbenro

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Thursday, April 16, 2020 / 8:20 PM / Nifemi Taiyese for WebTV


Partner & West Africa Tax Leader Deloitte & Touche, Mr. Yomi Olugbenro, has called for co-ordination of government intervention in stimulating the local economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, he called for the intervention in an interview with WebTV.


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Speaking further, he stressed the importance of various relief measures  such as that proposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and the presidential special response team headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON. He pointed out that "it is far more critical for the country to ensure proper co-ordination and synchronization of the various relief measures to ensure channeling of limited resources in the best productive manner".


According to Olugbenro, a more holistic and coordinated response is needed from both the managers of the monetary system and the fiscal managers to battle the broader economic challenges of Nigeria post COVID, which are; a potential slide into recession, job losses and disruption of businesses.


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Speaking on fiscal policy, the tax expert said a lot had been done around funding and support at the central bank level. However from a medical standpoint, the pandemic can be tackled by upgrading health infrastructure and enabling people to get back to work.


Highlighting the announcements made so far from the tax side, Mr. Olugbenro said it has been around administrative measures that will help tax payers manage compliance during the COVID 19.


He noted that some of the measures are essentially around deferral of deadline for returns and payments at the federal level.


According to the finance expert, a couple of internal revenue services at the sub-national levels have come out to announce deferment of return deadlines and fines.


Giving the instance of businesses that have obligations on a monthly basis to submit returns from value added tax (VAT) and remittances on employees income tax and with-holding tax (WHT), to the annual income tax, the deadlines for remittance have been shifted forward.


He also noted that  the Finance Act passed earlier in the year made provision for some measure of relief such as reduction in tax rate, tax exemptions and relief to micro and small businesses which ideally will have been one of the quick things the government will have announced, he said.


"The crisis is both a health and medical emergency but also throws up a lot of economic challenges, most of the responses so far has been around how to contain the medical impact of the crisis and how to ensure that lives are saved and people are back to work".


The interventions have been much heavier on providing stimulus that will help to manage the medical crises as regards funding support to make sure that things improve in the medical sector, which is at the frontline of the pandemic.


Olugbenro emphasized that different economies are responding based on their sizes, performance of the economy prior to COVID-19 and the size of their respective fiscal buffers. He noted that there was a lot of context to the measures that different countries have implemented in response to the pandemic, each unique to its situation.


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