West African tax body, WATAF, launched in Abuja
Seven years after its birth, the West African Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) was formally launched on Wednesday, giving it a full status of an international tax organisation.
12 out of 15-member countries of WATAF and stakeholder institutions like the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) West African Union of Tax Institutes (WAUTI) African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), the ECOWAS Commission among others were represented at the on-going 13th General Assembly meeting of the regional tax body where it was inaugurated and they promised to work with the new body.
The Executive Secretary of WATAF, Tunde Oladapo said the launch of WATAF represented the coming of age of the organisation and said WATAF will pursue revenue mobilisation in the sub-region as well as peer learning and information and data sharing among member-countries.
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Mr. Tunde Fowler said Nigeria is ready to share experience on taxation with other tax authorities in the West African sub-region.
The FIRS Chairman noted that the launch of WATAF presented another opportunity for tax authorities in West Africa to forge alliance, re-strategise and work together to raise the West African economy.
“It is poignant to note that we have once again an opportunity to forge alliances and chart a course for our collective good as heads of tax administration in West Africa. This opportunity we must utilise to the best of our abilities.
“Be assured that Nigeria is willing to share our experience and support any country in the sub-region in implementing any of such e-taxpayers’ service initiatives”, Fowler said.
Fowler said the launch of WATAF was a historical event as it makes its formal entry in to the ranks of similar organisations focused on international collaboration in Tax matters, having attained the statutory requirements spelt out in the WATAF Agreement providing for at least five (5) countries’ ratifications for the Agreement to come in to force and in line with the requirements of the Vienna Convention.
“This marks a new dawn in the consolidation of our collective aspiration to improve the standard of living of our people through effective mobilisation of available domestic tax revenue. Not only that, now West Africa has a platform for countries to collaborate in tax matters solidly supported by our governments and a Forum to articulate and project the West African perspective in tax administration, in the global tax arena”, Fowler said.
The Commissioner-General of Liberia Revenue Authority, Elfreda Tamba, who until this morning, was the Chairman of WATAF thanked Nigeria for hosting the General Assembly meeting noting that Nigeria had always “stepped in and being the big brother” in WATAF programmes.
Tamba handed over the chairmanship of WATAF to the Commissioner, Domestic Taxes, Togo, Adoyi Ahmed ESSU-Wavana.
WATAF was created in 2011 and has been committed to the development of the tax administration in West Africa. The theme for the 13th General Assembly is ‘Enhancing the Revenue Potential of West Africa’, was the focus to address taxation in West Africa with the advent of e-commerce, hybrid financial instruments coupled with increased sophistication and ingenuity of the army of tax advisors.