The State government has begun issuance of electronic receipts for all revenue payments as part of effort to build-up its revenue capacity.
At the official flag-off ceremony of the e-receipt in Uyo recently, the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel stated that in view of the need to tighten loopholes that occasioned fraud and diversion of funds through the manual receipt, government has adopted a robust technique, the automated platform to entrench accountability and safeguard funds to carry out its cardinal responsibilities to the people.
Governor Emmanuel who was represented at the occasion by his Deputy, Mr. Moses Ekpo, called for strict implementation of the policy and lauded the State Ministry of Finance for the innovation, while also using the medium to applaud the State House of Assembly for working assiduously to fast-track the process of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
In his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akan Okon stated that at a time where allocation from the federal government has gone down drastically, the e-receipt mechanism becomes the best option to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in administering, monitoring and coordinating all internally generated revenue activities in the State.
The Commissioner who pointed out that the new policy aligns with global best practice and provisions in the Akwa Ibom State financial regulations, explained that it would not only pave way for easy tax payment and documentation, but also holistically computerize tax payers’ bio-data ,thereby making verification and updating of data easier. He said machineries are already in place to facilitate the process, starting from sensitization of stakeholders and members of the public to secure their buy-in. According to him, government had carried out training and capacity building for different categories of revenue personnel,ranging from those at government Ministries, Departments,and Agencies (MDAs), Assessment Authorities, Motor Licensing Authorities,Sub-Treasurers, Desk Officers, as well as enlightenment program for Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Parastatals.
Commissioner Okon added that all designated revenue points have been equipped with the necessary facilities and tools such as e-receipt desk, computers, printers, internet access, generators, customized e-receipts leaflets, etc.
In a goodwill message, the House Committee Chairman on Finance and Appropriation in the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh commended the State government for the e-receipt initiative and the bold step taken to bring it to fore, and called for partnership with the House of Assembly to design a legal framework through enabling law to back-up the policy.
On his part, the State IGR consultant and Chief Executive of Rom-Flex Limited, Mr. Eyo Bassey averred that for the State to move forward, government must be knowledgeable about its actual revenue receipts to enable it plan ahead and that e-receipt platform is the right way to go as it is the foundation upon which the state will sustain its growth.
Throwing light on the workability of the new system, Mr. Bassey said the electronic receipt process involves issuance of what he called pay direct printout from the pay-point of choice, be it bank or POS which would be presented to the Assessment Authorities at any designated revenue offices who in turn keys in the automated digits found on the printout into the e-machine to issue the e-receipts. He stressed that without this process the e-receipt cannot be printed. He also announced that the manual system has been phased out, encouraging all to support the new revenue policy and to pay taxes as at when due.
Others who spoke at the event include the State Chief Judge represented by Hon. Justice Joy Unwana, the Permanent Secretary for Budget and Acting Chairman, Internal Revenue Service, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika, State Accountant General, Mr. Linus Nkan, Chairman of Ini LGA and representative of ALGON, Mr. Etetim Anwatim and Paramount Ruler of Ikot Abasi, HRM. Edidem Udo Ntuk Obom.
The occasion was witnessed by Commissioners and Special Advisers, Permanent Secretaries, Representative of the Commissioner of Police, Local government Transition Committee Chairmen, Paramount Rulers, Representatives of banks and other financial institutions, and a cross section of the public.