Wednesday, March 23, 2016 10:51 pm
By David O. Kuranga
The APC Administration under President Buhari has embarked on a decisive quest to rob poor Nigerians of their basic sustenance and make the cost of living on the average person unbearable. While understandably, the government needs to raise internal revenue in Nigeria, outside of petroleum, it is not necessary that the government raise this revenue on the backs of poor Nigerians while refusing to require Nigeria’s wealthy to pay anything more whatsoever. The APC during their campaign pretended to be a “progressive” party of the common man, but since they have taken power, their fangs and devil horns have unmasked themselves and their demonic vendetta to rob poor Nigerians.
FIRST the APC-led government under President Buhari, through the power ministry led by former Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola, chose to implement a nation-wide tariff or tax on electricity of 45%. Needless to say, implementing taxes such as this indiscriminately nationwide, raises the cost of living on everyone, including those who can afford to pay and those who–most certainly–cannot. It is a prime example of a regressive taxation policy that has a greater impact on the poor and laboring classes than it does on the wealthy. Such massive hikes in basic power costs like this, is so damaging and regressive that it is even a violation of agreed UN global standards, to which Nigeria is party and a signatory. Labour unions across Nigeria have been out in force protesting the developments and calling for the Minister of Power to repeal the power tax increases. Their calls have fallen on def ears, all the while the president continues to smile and remains silent.
SECOND the Central Bank of Nigeria, implemented a nationwide 50 naira stamp tax on all deposits over 1000 naira. These taxes are collected from every Nigerian that owns a bank account and makes regular deposits, irrespective of the size of the individuals account, total annual earnings or any other safeguards. Needless to say again, implementing fees such as this is yet another prime example of a regressive taxation policy that has a far greater impact on the poor market women, common street hawkers, okada, trike, and danfo drivers, merely depositing their meagre days earnings. By dipping into their earnings every time they make deposit the CBN discourages them from using banks, recording their income, paying taxes, and becoming bankable businesses and self-employed persons with verifiable income. This will make it harder for them to get credit, and will undoubtedly roll back progress made through SME and national banking initiatives to increase the number of people and businesses nationwide who use the banking system. Even worse, the policy continues to steal from the nation’s poor and harming them for the countries financial woes while leaving the wealthy to pay almost nothing.
LET ME BE VERY CLEAR, regressive taxation measures ARE NOT the only means for the government to increase revenue. There are many progressive tax schemes that they could have been implemented by now. Progressive tax measures to target the elite in Nigeria with (MANSION TAXES, LUXURY CAR & VEHICLE TAXES, LUXURY FOREIGN GOODS TAXES, DOLLAR HOARDING TAXES, among other measures). However the administration has not so much as lifted a finger to implement any of these measures despite the fact that Nigeria is among the most unequal nations in the world in terms of wealth inequality
FINALLY as if the latter two initiatives were not bad enough, the demonic forces orchestrating the APC’s national heist of the nation’s poor, have now set in motion plans to level a tax on all telecommunications nationwide. The tax is being collected from every ordinary mobile phone and mobile internet user throughout the nation. Once again, given that access to these basic communication tools is a necessity for many Nigerians to survive and do their daily work, for the government to propose taxing them every time they make a call or use the internet they are yet again making it even more expensive for ordinary Nigerians to live on a daily basis! Their electricity is skyrocketing, fuel is skyrocketing, now cellular communications costs are skyrocketing, and their earnings being robbed when they take them to the bank! None of this has much of an impact on the elites in the country who run the APC and can all afford this. Yet either purely evil demons, or completely aloof to the struggles of ordinary Nigerians. Either way, from the top down they are frauds, thieves, and categorically unfit to occupy their positions given what they have all decided to do.
LET ME BE VERY CLEAR, regressive taxation measures ARE NOT the only means for the government to increase revenue. There are many progressive tax schemes that they could have been implemented by now. Progressive tax measures to target the elite in Nigeria with (MANSION TAXES, LUXURY CAR & VEHICLE TAXES, LUXURY FOREIGN GOODS TAXES, DOLLAR HOARDING TAXES, among other measures). However the administration has not so much as lifted a finger to implement any of these measures despite the fact that Nigeria is among the most unequal nations in the world in terms of wealth inequality. With all things being considered, let’s stop call them the (APC), All “Regressive” Congress (ARC) is demonically pushing such damaging regressive policies all while shunning progressive measures protecting the nation’s elite who are part of the problem hoarding dollars and foreign exchange! Just like the PDP, the ruling party in Nigeria today is equally as elitist, class insensitive, and completely aloof to the hardship that the masses in Nigeria face, from the office of the president down. The compound impact of this systematic theft of the nation’s poor will have the identical impact on the masses in Nigeria as if the government continued stealing and pocketing oil revenue.
Nigeria does need to increase taxes and raise money, but not on basic electricity, calls, and deposits for everyone, but on foreign wine and champagne that the elite across Nigeria consume. On the foreign films and satellite tv that the elite across Nigeria watch. On the business-class flights and private jets that the elite across Nigeria hire. Taxes need also to be collected on the existing fleets of luxury and foreign cars that elite in Nigeria currently own, and on their aquatic yachts also, especially if they own more than 1. Luxury property taxes should also be collected on the multiple mansions and luxury flats valued over N50 million that elite across Nigeria own, especially if they also own property abroad. This is not radical or revolutionary, it is simple common sense in a society plagued with massive wealth inequality like Nigeria. THESE SAME POLICIES EXIST in the US and the UK. After sweeping to power with a charade of mischaracterizations, they continue the policy of robbing poor masses of Nigeria blind, this time using the weapon of taxes directed at them instead of looting oil revenue. It is among the most shameful and disgraceful displays and bad governance on the planet today.
The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.
Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates go to www.kaglobal.net. © Copyright 2016 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.