The Effect Of E-Governance On Public Accountability In Inland Revenue Service
Over the years, internally generated revenue in Nigeria has been plagued with several limiting factors such as weak administrative lapses and weak administrative facilities like the evidence of manually compiled database of tax payers. e-government was however identified as a solution to addressing most of the limiting issues of internally generated revenue. The study examines the effect of e-government on internally generated revenue in local governments, lagos. The Technology acceptance Model(TAM by Davis, 1989) was used to underpin the study. The study adopted survey research design, where both primary and secondary data were used. The primary source of data were questionnaires and interviews while secondary data was obtained from “local governments Guage”: A quarterly publication of local governments, Handbook of local governments among others. Quantitative data was analyzed using frequency counts and percentages, while chi-square was used to test the hypotheses. Data generated through interview was analyzed qualitatively. The study established that there are adequate e-government infrastructures in local governments, lagos. The study also revealed that ICT capacity of staff of local governments is adequate as all 70 staff of local governments have been trained on basic ICT skills. From findings of the study, we therefore concluded that ICT has enhanced performance in revenue administration by reducing human error and processing times, providing readily accessible data for tax officers and facilitating better decision making by tax authorities. Hence the study recommended among others that local governments should ensure an improved ICT infrastructure which includes completion of the fibre-optic network project, because without a robust ICT infrastructure, the modernization project would not be achieveable.
1.1 Background of the Study
Technological advances have changed the way people go about their daily activities. Whether we are checking our e-mails or texting or sending messages with our phones, mobile communication is growing, and our ability to navigate the World Wide Web is improving dramatically. We use the internet to shop on-line, do banking transactions, book for our flight tickets and make payment on-line, check the weather, do research on any subject and connect with network. You may wonder what this has to do with public administration. As Internet usage grows, and the use of technology in general grows, so too does the use of technology and Internet by government (Onuigbo, 2015).
The integration and adoption of electronic government (e-government) to provide services by government is rapidly gaining ground across the world. E-government if properly used has the potential to empower people to overcome development obstacles, address social problems, and strengthen democratic institutions. However, for a country like Nigeria to gain from the benefits of e-government, technology must be implemented and used effectively (Achimugu, Chukwurah & Ochala, 2013).
E-governance, which is a paradigm shift over the traditional approaches in Public Administration, means rendering of government services and information to the public using electronic means. This new paradigm has brought about a revolution in the quality of service delivered to the citizens. It has ushered in transparency in the governing process; saving of time due to provision of services through single window; simplification of procedures; better office and record management; reduction in corruption; and improved attitude, behaviour and job handling capacity of the dealing personnel in the developed countries (Monga, 2008).
In Nigeria, very little or nothing has been heard about government readiness to adopt e-government and therefore join the global trend of rendering effective and cost efficient services to the people on the on-line web platform. In this vein, Ifinedo (2008) revealed that Nigeria is just beginning to understand the importance of such a concept in governance. Hence, Nigeria has a very poor e-government ranking. Nigeria according to him has an e-government index ranking of 0.243 as against the world average of 0.414, meaning it is yet to be positioned to harness the limitless opportunities available in e-government to reinvent governance that is accountable and transparent in its public revenue management (Achimugu, Chukwurah & Ochala, 2013).
Owing hugely to widespread public demands for transparency in governance and the global outcry against corruption, accountability is now of serious concern in many countries including Nigeria. One of the critical issues dominating public sector management in Nigeria, as Addison (cited in Ejere, 2012) rightly observed, is lack of accountability and transparency.
Lack of accountability in the public sector creates opportunities for corruption with its attendant negative consequences. For instance, through corruption the commonwealth of Nigerians is being diverted by a few, leaving the nation at a loss. Due to the poor culture of accountability, corruption has become a way of life in Nigeria; to the extent that it is trite to say that officials are not only corrupt, but corruption is official (Ejere, 2012). The scandalous revelations of large scale corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government officials have made public policy analysts and scholars such as Nkwe (2012), Kaaya (2011) to call on the government to think out of the box by adopting e-governance as a way of addressing the lack of accountability in the Nigerian public sector.
Whether in fact the use of e-governance correlates with public accountability and transparency in Lagos State and Nigeria positively or negatively in practice, is an empirical question that remains open. Hence, the undertaking of this study will therefore explore the effect of e-governance on public accountability with a special reference to Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LSIRS).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Despite the popularity, potency, and precision of e-governance, it is yet to be judiciously adopted and explored in the Nigerian public sector. A visit to the government departments in Nigeria is a nightmare; it is characterized by a lot of paper work, long queues, bureaucracy, cramped spaces and a lot of frustrations. With the growing demands of citizens and changing global rules and regulations, the Nigerian government as a matter of necessity must explore a transparent and accountable medium to deliver its statutory mandate to its citizens at the right time and quality.
The link between e-governance implementations and public accountability is generating some interesting debates. Many scholars have argued that e-government is still a new phenomenon. That it is still very much unclear and complex how it can promotes public accountability (Cuillier and Piotrowski, 2009; Petrakaki et al., 2009). On the other side of the swing, analysts and political watchers counter-argued that e-government has spin-off effects, and that the more ICTs are used for government businesses, the greater the impact on revenues, transparency and accountability (Nkwe, 2012; Kaaya, 2011; Bellamy and Taylor, 1998; Ebrahim et al., 2003). Consequently, there is a need to develop frameworks and guidelines to provide in-depth understanding for this phenomenon and to assist the Nigerian civil service on whether to or not adopt e-government in its bid to achieve greater accountability.
The current structure of the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service across boards lack the capacity for revenue base data collection and analysis; lack register of revenue customers and information system; poor collection and analysis of performance data, lack performance evaluation against targets; poor method (being cash-based only) of generation; poor internal control and financial reporting; lack a documented action plan for improving its collections; poor internal organizational arrangement for revenue generation; lack of transparent accounting among others (Eze, Omole, Onyinka & Okonji, 2004).
Many of the studies on the impact of e-governance on public sector management were done outside Nigeria. These studies particularly focus on corruption as a dependent variable. Research on e-governance and public accountability are very few. In Nigeria, most of the available studies about e-governance such as Achimugu, Chukwurah & Ochala (2013), Agwu (2014), and Onuigbo (2015) largely investigated factors hindering the adoption of e-governance. These researches were also theoretical studies whose findings were subjectively based on researchers’ personal opinions. It is noted that the past studies did not give adequate attention to the relationship between e-governance and public accountability, as well as relating it to the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service; hence, this study was undertaken to fill the identified gap above by investigating the relationship between e-governance and public accountability with a special reference to the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LSIRS).
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine the connection between e-governance and public accountability. Other specific aims are;
- To investigate the relationship between e-governance and public accountability.
- To find out the effect of electronic payment system on transparency in taxes and levies collection in Lagos State Inland Revenue Service
- To explore the effect of e-consultation on improve states’ internally generated revenues in Nigeria.
- To examine the correlation between e-information and corruption in the Lagos State public sector.
1.4 Research Questions:
To achieve the stated objective the study will be guided by the following research questions;
- Does e-government has any effect on internally generated revenues for local governments in Lagos State?
- Will the adoption of ICT promotes accountability in taxes and levies collection and administration?
- Can e-government reduce corrupt practices in the Nigerian public sector?
1.5 Research Hypotheses:
The under mentioned hypotheses will be subjected to statistical test in the course of the study;
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between e-government and internally generated revenues for local governments in Lagos State.
- Hi: There is a significant relationship between e-government and internally generated revenues for local governments in Lagos State.
- Ho: ICT adoption has no significant effect on accountability in taxes and levies collection.
- Hi: ICT adoption has a significant effect on accountability in taxes and levies collection.
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between e-government and corruption in the Nigerian public sector.
- Hi: There is a significant relationship between e-government and corruption in the Nigerian public sector.
Significance of the Study
Many studies have been conducted to explore the challenges of adaptation and implementation of ICT in public sectors, especially in the developing countries. For example, a study carried out by Chatama (2013) on the impact of ICT on Taxation: a case of large taxpayer department of Nigeria Revenue Authority. The study was limited to the administration of tax in Nigeria and they focused on how the use of ICT modernized tax administration procedures at Large tax payer department in Nigeria. Likewise the study by Abiola & Asiweh (2012), on the Impact of E-government on Government Revenue in a Developing Economy. The study looked at tax administration in a general perspective as it affects developing countries as a whole and did not suggest practical solutions for Nigeria to strengthen its tax enforcement machinery, therefore, the study has no clear practical implications for tax practitioners in Nigeria.
The findings of this research is also expected to be useful to the researchers, academicians and students, interested readers and other institutions in making further research in the area of the use of ICT in tax administration. In addition, it would serve as a source of reference by making contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the concept, nature and characteristics of ICT and Tax administration.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
This study examines the effect of information and communication technology on tax administration in local governments in lagos. It is clear that local governments in has uniform structures and programs in all the 36 states of Nigeria but this work focused on local governments in lagos Plateau. This choice is based on the fact that local governments lagos is a major revenue collecting branch of the agency and is ranking the biggest business hub in the entire North East Region. According to local governments classification, Plateau state office was placed under the North East region in order to further boost revenue collection in that geographical area. The period of study covered between 2010 and 2015. The period was selected because according to the Federal Inland Revenue Service handbook on “Taxation Reform in Democratic Nigeria”, in 2010, local governments obtained approval from the Federal Executive Council for the full implementation of Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) using ICT which enabled local governments to procure, install and implement the complete automation of tax processes. The period was selected also because it was matured enough to study a programme that came into being four years earlier.
Also, according to the Federal Inland Revenue handbook on “Taxation Reform in Democratic Nigeria” the first step towards restructuring local governments in was to make tax administration a function of Information and Communication Technology. ICT was also identified as a solution to addressing most the challenges of tax administration in local governments, lagos.
However, the study is done only on one organization, Federal Inland Revenue service and is limited to the activities of local governments in lagos, Plateau state, thus, the study might lack the general applicability in other public organizations. Also, considering the size of local governments in in Nigeria as a geographical area, a population sample of relevant groups from Plateau state were used to generalize findings.
1.7 Definition of Key Concepts
Information and Communication Technology (ICT):
Mary and Cox (2007)defines ICT as electronic and computerized devices associated with human interactive materials that enable the user to use them for wider range of service delivery and in addition to personal use. ICT involves the use of electronic devices such as web portals, internet, inters witch, telnet and telecommunication for sending and receiving messages and used for tax administration.
Perrison and Sunders (2006) defines ICT infrastructure as everything that supports the flow and processing of information in an organization, including hardware, livewire, software, data and network components. ICT infrastructure refers to the composite hardware, software, network resources and services required for the existence, operation and management of an enterprise IT environment. It allows the organization to deliver IT solutions and services to its employees, partners and/or customers and is usually internal to an organization and deployed within owned facilities.
According to Matachi, (2006), the term capacity refers to the skills, knowledge, relationships, values and attitudes among many other attributes such as health and awareness that enable countries, organizations, groups and individuals to carry out functions and achieve their development objectives over time. Therefore, ICT capacity is said to refer to ICT skills, knowledge, relationships, values and attitudes that enable an individual or an organization carry out ICT functions and achieve their development objectives over time.
According to Yusuf 2005, ICT adoption is the presentation and distribution of instructional content through web environment or systems offering an integrated range of tools (stand-alone computer instruction, CD ROM amongst others) to support learning and communication.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
The literature and empirical studies related to this study were critically reviewed. The concepts of Information and communication technology, ICT Infrastructures, Corruption, ICT utilization and Tax administration were reviewed. According to the views of Mary and Cox (2007), ICT are electronic and computerized devices associated with human interactive materials that enable the user to use them for wider range of service delivery and in addition to personal use.In the views of Ogbonna 2010, tax administration consists of the tax authorities and the organs of tax administration that are charged with the responsibility of implementing the tax laws in accordance with the set guidelines. Other scholarly works were reviewed. Empirical study of various research works was done and attempts were made to fill the existing gaps identified. The theory adopted for this study is the Technology Acceptance Model by Davis (1989).According to this model, technology adoption is a function of a variety of factors including Relative advantage and Ease of use. The research design used for this investigation is survey/descriptive research as contained in which information was obtained from a sample of respondents. This research strategy is considered necessary because of its ability to view comprehensively and in detail the major questions raised in the study. The total population for the study is 2510. The stratified random sample technique; probability sample was used and data were generated from both primary and secondary sources for this study. Data was analyzed using the Chi square via the use of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version21.
Also an overview of the modernization project by local governments in was made. The Integrated Tax Administration (ITAS) was discussed. The implementation of ITAS is aimed at re-engineering and automating local governments‟s core tax processes through the use of technology which ultimately simplifies taxpayer compliance and increases revenue generation. Some modules of ITAS such as Project FACT and the Joint Tax Board Tax Identification Number were discussed. In Chapter five data collected via the use of questionnaires and interviews were presented, analyzed, processed and interpreted and also issues of tax administration in Nigeria
Findings of the study reveal that the availability of ICT infrastructure for quality service delivery of tax administration in local governments in is adequate but the network connectivity is a major challenge, Corruption of some staff of local governments in terms of skills, relationships, values and knowledge is also adequate but corporate tax payer‟s do not utilize the ICT facilities available for tax administration.
Based on the findings of this research, we therefore conclude that the use of ICT in tax administration has increased the efficiency of tax administration as it makes tax payments to local governments easy, convenient and secure which enables individuals and corporate organisations remit their taxes, thereby reducing the rate of tax evasion. From our findings, we also conclude that the main objective of automation of Tax administration by the local governments in is to create an efficient government agency which harnessed modern technology to improve its overall processes and provide taxpayers a hitch-free, hassle-free and easy experience with the tax authority. It was considered pivotal that tax payment process be modernised using the various tools offered by modern technology. These modernized payment channels will not only ease the payment of tax for the taxpayer but would also reduce incidences of tax evasion, tax avoidance and enhance the monitoring and accounting of revenue.
This study concludes that the use of ICT in tax administration has provided an enhanced and more efficient revenue collection method that guarantees improved revenue accounting and reconciliation processes in local governments and has increased tax payer compliance thereby reducing the rate of tax evasion. Also ICT has provided a cost effective solution that is easily accessible, as multi channels have been provided for collections, thereby providing more convenient options and encouraging more people to pay their dues to the government. The modernised system will enable local governments receive the taxes and other payments due to government in a more transparent manner as Leakages will be minimised.
Based on the findings of this study, in a revenue collection agency like the local governments, quality service delivery is critical to success and in order to deliver quality service to taxpayers and operate an efficient and transparent tax system that optimizes tax revenue collection, we hereby recommend the following;
a. A robust ICT infrastructure:
Without a robust ICT infrastructure, modernization projects such as the ITAS project embarked upon by local governments would not be achieve able. local governments should therefore ensure an improved ICT infrastructure which includes completion of the fibre-optic network project, provision of adequate computer systems and reliable UPS to all offices for staff. local governments and all revenue authorities should set up IT departments at least with the minimum/basic IT structure. Competent staff with the required skills should be recruited and ICT should be included in its periodic training to cater for the upgrade and development of ICT professionals.
b. Regular Training of Staff and Taxpayers
We recommend that adequate manpower should be fittingly trained to enforce tax compliance and attend to challenges of tax administration and local governments should ensure that regular training of staff and taxpayers should be given topmost priority to keep them abreast with the changes and reforms of the tax system as ICT knowledge areas are so dynamic that without continuous training, the personnel may lose touch with current trends in the industry. Strategic managers need to conduct a capacity building needs assessment in the organization to ensure ICT infrastructure put in place is of benefit to staff. local governments should also implement regular ICT workshops, training, programs, seminars and conferences to raise ICT awareness. This will enable them acquire requisite skills necessary to operate the electronic changes from manual to automate tax administration. local governments should also ensure that taxpayers have the required ICT skills, machineries and a sound understanding of the tax laws to effectively operate the new tax processes. This also will greatly improve tax payer utilization of ICT facilities.
c. Sensitization of Tax Payers/ Checking the plaque of ignorance
Tax payers should be highly sensitized to take advantage of the business process re-engineering to file their tax returns from the comfort of their offices or homes at anytime within the required filling period thereby reducing the complexity, time and cost of paying taxes.
Top Management needs to offer timely communication in order to create awareness of the ICT innovations so that staff and taxpayers can utilize them. This can be done through regular workshops, training, programs, seminars and conferences to raise awareness. This will improve tax payer‟s utilization of ICT facilities.
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