Moves by the Federal Government to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.2 per cent has continued to generate more controversies from different quarters.
This is just as the United Labour Congress (ULC) has called on the Federal Government to do away with the proposal, describing the move as anti-people and growth, which runs against the nation’s developmental objectives.
The union, which said the hike at this time is totally unacceptable, called on the government to have an immediate rethink, as it is wrongly headed.
President of ULC, Joe Ajaero, urged the National Assembly to use the opportunity to show leadership by rejecting the proposal and reclaiming its lost connection with the Nigerian people.
“It must insist that the government must use the resources already available within the nation more effectively and efficiently by cutting down on the cost of governance.
“Foisting more hardship on the people at this time is not an acceptable idea in governance which ought to be a tool to lift burdens from the shoulders of the citizenry,” he said.
ULC expressed worry that a government that has put all manners of challenges on the path to paying the new minimum wage of N30,000 to Nigerian workers would find it so easy to foist further hardship on the same workers and peoples.
“This proposal cannot find any reasonable explanation as it cannot be anchored on any plausible economic objectives,” he said.
The union also demanded that government should show what it has done with the revenue it received from the petroleum product price hike and the various billions of naira it has realised through stamp duties and other charges it has levied on hapless citizens these past years.
It further demanded that “all the recovered loots and the huge revenue FIRS has reported ought to plug whatever fiscal holes that may have emerged albeit because of less than careful handling of our nation’s coffers by unconscionable politicians.
“The continuous use of the levers of power to force the masses to surrender part of their income to the ruling elite to continue swimming in opulence is the height of extortion and cannot be accepted by patriots.
“We are indeed worried that governance in Nigeria has rather become a tool for impoverishing the people rather than to make the lives and living of the populace more beneficial. The purpose of government we have always known is anchored on the drive to provide policies and programmes that are centred on the promotion of the welfare of the citizenry but one wonders why we have seen a continuous reversal of this fundamental pursuit of governance in Nigeria now and in the past.
“ULC views this proposed hike as one of those actions of the government that are not founded on making positive impacts on the lives of the masses of Nigeria.
“The consequences of this hike on the lives of Nigerians that are already suffering horrendous deprivations as a result of ill-thought-out programmes of various governments is dire and is capable of exacerbating the poverty that has ravaged the peoples of our nation.
“We do not think that the government realises the depth of misery that pervades our nation and may have completely detached itself from the people it ought to succour.”
“Definitely, prices of goods and services will go up as a consequence with its attendant implications for the cost of living pushing down a further greater number of Nigerians into the cesspool of poverty.
“Manufacturers and businesses in an attempt to recoup the extra cost as a result of the hike in VAT would dump it on the consumers and this would snowball into another round of increasing prices triggering another inflationary round that would ultimately undermine the economy.”