By Juliet Umeh
Despite the disruptions to the world economy, ocassioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also been confirmed that different sectors of the economy that quickly readjusted their operations, integrating technology solutions fared well.
At a recent Nigeria e-Government Summit in Lagos, different sectors of the economy gave account of how technology helped them navigate the murky economic waters heralded by COVID-19.
Representatives of the sectors in a panel section shared varying stories of how they applied technology to solve problems as the effects of the pandemic bit harder.
The event, with theme: Covid-19: ‘Impetus for accelerated e-Government adoption, had stakeholders in tech, health, finance and transportation sectors, among others in participation.’
They confessed that tech solutions, can actually provide the needed tonic for Nigeria’s economic turn around, post covid era.
LIR S- e-Tax
For instance, in a state like Lagos, the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, said it generated N25 billion from e-tax in March during the peak of covid-19.
Sharing LIRS’ experience, the agency’s Director of information and communication technology, ICT, Mr Rasheed Olu-Ajayi, said e-tax is an enterprise tax administration system which the agency used to harmonise and digitize all their tax processes.
Olu-Ajayi said: “At the heat of Covid-19 in March, we were able to generate N25 billion for Lagos State when lot businesses, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs were locked down.
“This was because there was a payment module within our e-tax application which meant that organisations, company entities within the comfort of their homes make payment for their taxes.
“What led to the emergency of e-tax was that before now, we had instances where some individuals and companies had duplicate tax payer identifications, IDs, which meant that it was difficult for us to be able to say how many tax payers we have in our tax net.
“We were able to leverage the Bank Verification Number, BVN, to clean the entire multiple payer IDs and automate all our processes starting from enumeration, registration, tax payment, assessment, reconciliation, tax auditing, annual return filling, report and analytics.
“So, it meant that all those processes were at the touch of the button possible for every tax payer or for every company entity in the comfort of their zones,” Olu-Ajayi said.
He also noted that filling of annual returns has been made possible through e-tax platform.
He said: “About two years ago, there were about 1600 people within our office who were trying to file in their tax returns to avoid the late penalty fee on the 31st December. But with the e-tax, all that has reduced because we were able to complete about 25000 companies online successfully in the last annual returns that we did,” Olu-Ajayi remarked.
Also, Prof. Ibrahim Mustapha from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, said the hospital recognised the that e-health, e-medicine, telemedicine, electronic medical records are very important in dealing with wholesome healthcare service to the people.
Mustapha said: “Patients-doctors’ interactions used to be on papers and you have bundles upon bundles case notes that one can find difficult to trace when patients come. So we realized that we needed to have electronics medical records.
“Beyond patients-doctors’ interactions, we are doing few surgeries these days mainly because of the internet backbone and electronic backbone. We are able to have teleconferencing which is telemedicine.”
VIS – Automated number plates
In his agency, the Director of Lagos State Vehicle Inspection Service, VIS, Engr. Akin Fashola, said the sector is also leveraging ICT in many ways.
Fashola said: “With automatic number plate system, an offender gets text message once he violates any law. But if you are in doubt of what the offence is, you can come to any of the offices and we will show you what you have done.