Trade Union Congress, TUC, has kicked against the Federal Government’s plan to shore up government revenue which has been eroded by the declining international price of oil by increasing the Value Added Tax, VAT, from five to 10percent.
The congress described the move as uncalled for in view of the prevailing mass poverty and destitution aggravated by the insurgency in some parts of the country, as well as the failure of many state governments to pay the salaries of their workers.
The union, in statement issued by its President, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and Secretary-General, Comrade Musa Lawal, noted that the development has made it impossible for the public sector to stimulate the private and informal sectors of the economy, thereby grinding the economy to a standstill.
“We therefore consider the proposed increment as evil, satanic and lacking human face.”
Kaigama expressed the senior workers’ anger with the Acting Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Mr. Sunday Ogungbesan, who proposed the increment, stressing that the proposal runs contrary to the agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government which is essentially centred on restoring hope to the masses and building a new Nigeria that the citizenry will be proud of.
He disagreed with FIRS’ claim that the current tax regime undermines the ability of the President to deliver on his campaign promises.
Kaigama said: “The fact that the country depends on crude oil exports for over 70 percent of government revenue and over 90 percent of foreign exchange is not debatable. As such, the chairman needs not to preach that, but look for a way forward.
“After all, even the President was aware of the current scenario when he made the promises. In fact, we advise the President to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing within his administration; persons whose main motive is to play the good boy to the detriment of the people,” TUC stated.
The congress expressed the conviction that the proposed increment in VAT would enthrone poverty and create untold hardship in all spheres of life, as most goods consumed by the mass are vatable, just as the case after each increment in the prices of petroleum products, prices of goods increases across board, thus forcing purchasing power to drastically reduce.
TUC lamented that the FIRS boss was choosing the easy but destructive way out, instead of proffering a durable solutions to the cases of tax evasion and waivers.
“Must the government always prey on the masses to achieve revenue targets and address deficits? How efficient has the government been in monitoring and enforcing the payment of VAT at the current rate of 5percent, and how effective has been the utilisation of the VAT that has been collected over the years?
“Should the poor masses of the country be blamed if, as the chairman claims, only 125,000 out of 450,000 corporate entities pay tax to the government? Whatever the answers to these questions may be, surely the government and Mr. FIRS Chairman need not be reminded that Nigeria can and should also generate substantial revenue from bitumen, tin, gold, limestone, iron ore, coal, etc,” the statement insisted.

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