Mrs Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), has called on the Federal Government to widen its tax base to sustain the education system and the economy.
Obi was speaking in Abuja on Tuesday at a two-day National Tax Summit organised by ActionAid in collaboration with Tax Justice and Governance Platform.
She noted that there was a need for the government to harness all opportunities to increase the tax base.
In Nigeria we are encouraging more private schools and not paying attentions to the public schools. What we are saying is to widen the tax base as there is a lot we can get from education.
Nigerians are sustaining the economy of Benin Republic as a result of the educational knowledge Nigerians are seeking for.
“ If we better our education, the rich will go and pay the money and you can attract people from outside to come to our schools. This will be a big resource we can harness for the economy.’’
According to her, tax is supposed to solve the problems of education.
We pay all the taxes and these should be invested in education, hence our tax must be protected,’’ she said.
On the Finance Bill currently passed by the National Assembly, which aims to mandate banks to compel customers to provide their Tax Identification Number (TIN), Obi said this would further compound the problems of Nigerians.
Why are you telling us to get TIN for the children, we save for their education and we should be encouraging a cashless economy but what this introduction is saying is that people should keep money in their homes.
We are looking at the issue of multiple taxation, increase in VAT, companies not paying tax and we are looking at progressive tax meaning more corporate organisations should widen the issue of tax base.
Some of us pay more than 30 per cent of our taxes or almost 40 per cent taxes and at the end of the day, we are still looking for money for our children’s education, health and the rest.
What we are saying is that we should be able to make our tax work for us. Now you have increased salaries to N30,000 and then you are putting tax and it’s those paid little that are paying the burden of taxes.
Government should be looking at alternatives. If the money for taxes is harnessed enough, there is no need to give tax holidays, investors will come, when investors come they also employ people and they pay taxes.
If the Nigerian government can invest in industrialisation, they will create jobs and the workers will pay taxes and the unemployment will be reduced,’’ Obi added.
She, however, called on the government to come out and clear the air on the new policy of TIN, saying that the Civil Society Organisation would protest if something was not done urgently.
Also, Mr Ayuba Waba, National President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said no meaningful sustainable development would be possible without expanding the financial option which tax is one.
Wabba, who was represented by Mr James Eustace, Assistant General-Secretary, NLC , called on the government to widen its tax net and ensure that those not paying are mandated to pay.
The new increase of tax policy is not well thought out with the welfare of Nigerians and workers not put in mind.
“There must be a creative strategic efforts to ensure that the tax net is expanded for development and the best way to go is to widen the tax net to ensure the incentive regime are reviewed.’’
He, therefore, said that the union would continue to reject any policy detrimental to the livelihood and survival of Nigerians.
Edited by: Chukwudi Ekezie