April 14, 2024

The Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) has taken the challenge thrown by the Chairman Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Tunde Fowler, to reveal its tax agenda before and after campaigns.

The party disclosed its agenda to the newsmen through a communique read after a stakeholders meeting in Abuja.

The communique reads
“As a well-organized party, we are having to extract from our manifesto and in line with our ideology of Positive and Constructive Pragmatism to answer the question of our tax agenda and ideology. Our tax agenda is an indication of how we intend to fund socioeconomic development if given the opportunity to form government.
We hereby itemize and summarize our agenda for easy absorption:

1. As a modern, sensitive, and progressive party, we intend to emphasize progressive taxation. This means that we shall be emphasizing and pursuing taxes that do not impoverish Nigerians further. It is important to note that more than 83million Nigerians now live in extreme poverty. They need a better standard of living, not a higher tax burden.

2. However, we shall be serious with ensuring that ALL Nigerians understand and comply with their obligations to the state by paying their taxes. The emphasis will however be on the super-rich. All over the world, the rich bear a little more of the tax burden as a way of ensuring that society is sane and that they can enjoy their wealth in a safe environment, and attract foreign capital and tourism, which will further increase their opportunities and wealth. The current scorched-earth scenario whereby a few corruptly rich people are hellbent on ensuring that Nigerians remains poor is penny-wise, pounds-foolish, to borrow an age-long cliche.

3. To this extent in our government, we shall emphasize property taxes (collectible by local and state governments, capital gains taxes and luxury taxes (collectible by Federal and State governments), and introduce innovative environmental-friendly taxes like emissions charges which depend on car engine capacity and propensity to pollute the environment.

4. In line with 3 above, and going by our stated ideology as an environmental-friendly, health-conscious, and modern political party, ANRP shall strongly consider some increase in excise duties on alcohol and tobacco, as these items are considered to have a general cost on society which needs to be provided for (higher health bills, road accidents, crime etc).

5. ANRP shall not increase company income taxes or personal income taxes for the foreseeable future. The idea behind this is that Nigerian companies are struggling due to an inefficient environment, and there are too few people in employment. The focus will be on encouraging companies in business to comply with existing tax laws, and to get more people into employment.

6. ANRP will study the current VAT (Value Added Tax) system and strive to increase compliance rather than rush into increasing same. VAT is not particularly a progressive tax and has been known to lead to spikes in inflation in a country like Nigeria.

7. ANRP shall sternly and resolutely go after tax evaders, and also tighten the loopholes which lead to tax avoidance by eligible entities in Nigeria. The tax system will be simplified and demystified. The selling point will be to let people see the benefits of paying their taxes.

8. To this extent, an ANRP government will ensure that the current ostentation displayed in government settings (by politicians and top civil servants), is drastically reduced. Many Nigerians – businesses and people – have complained that they are not encouraged to pay taxes when they see that Nigerian leaders are the most profligate and unaccountable in the world. ANRP believes therefore, that the first port of call towards robust tax compliance, is to let politicians and top civil servants in public offices understand how their easy access to taxpayers’ money and the wanton splurges they daily embark upon, has led to a deep distrust and therefore a sub-optimization of government revenues in Nigeria

9. ANRP will ensure that the focus is not only on taxes, but also other sources of revenues due to governments at all levels, viz Rates, Fees, Levies, Fines, and of course, the proceeds of natural resources and any other funds due to government. This is because the focus on taxes has blindsided us and made us ignore these other veritable sources of income.

It is a fact that Nigeria’s tax and general revenue to GDP ratio is the lowest in the world, even below that of countries which are tax havens. It is a fact that we are unto an unsustainable trajectory. This approach where every politician or top civil servant finds it easy to bully the system and deprive Nigeria of its dues at Federal, State or Local Government levels is the reason Nigeria is on a downward spiral, whereby we have become the poorest country on earth on a per capita basis, we have the highest sheer number of extremely poor people, we have the highest number of children out of school, and crimes (terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping, fraud, etc) fester. It is the reason why 80% of the Nigerian Police are on bodyguard duty to whoever can pay as those ‘lucky’ enough to lay their hands on the commonwealth now use that same commonwealth to protect themselves in an orgy of paranoia. Ordinary Nigerians are totally left to their own fates and devices, as the population of the poor and despondent rises still.

It is the current misunderstanding of what we should focus on and the urgency needed to correct our course that has led to Nigeria undertaking a one-way journey of self-destruction, preferring to bury our heads in the sand while the entire world overtakes us. Successive governments have deluded themselves and deceived Nigerians that we are making progress while the nation has been on accelerateed reverse. We have celebrated the few who can game the system while the majority have retrogressed.

Angola, with a population of 25million people has approved and put in play a budget of $47billion for the year 2018. On the 21st of February 2018, South Africa, with a population of 50million people approved and put in play a Federal budget of $155billion (7 times larger than Nigeria’s), while Algeria has approved and put in play, a budget of $80billion for its 40million people. Nigeria, the self-acclaimed giant of Africa with an inflated GDP figure of $450billion has found no direction and no deadlines for its miserable and condemnable national budget of $27billion for its unlucky 180million people. When approved, most Nigerians know, that half of that amount will disappear into the pockets of our corrupt, unfeeling and irresponsible public officials, while another quarter will be spend on projects that will be promptly abandoned. It is no wonder to any discerning mind, why Nigeria is not growing in real terms, and why we are romancing with GDP growth rates as low as 0.9% when we should be growing at 20% per annum. ANRP will ensure Nigeria’s economy grows at 20% per annum as a result of responsible governance. We believe that there is absolutely no reason why we cannot double our annual budgets going by what smaller countries with similar economic structure (primary goods export focus) are able to do. We believe that Nigeria is currently being bled to its death.

We conclude by speaking to one of Mr Fowler’s assertions and concerns in the same speech where he challenged political parties to unveil their tax agendas. He revealed that the FIRS pays taxes and wondered why political parties are not doing the same. We believe political parties, if properly run, are nonprofit organizations which survive on donations from members of the public. What the FIRS should do is call for transparency in party finances and ensure that politicians do not dip hands in taxpayers’ monies to fund party events as has been the case since Nigeria’s staggered attempts at some form of democracy. The FIRS should also ensure that individual donors to political parties are assessed as to their tax compliance. We have researched into the tax practices of political parties in the world’s most-advanced democracies. In the USA political parties are not required to pay taxes, but in the UK, they can pay on declared ‘surpluses’ since they are registered as ‘companies’. In the year 2017, the Conservative Party paid a paltry 238,000 pounds sterling while Labour Party paid nothing. This is possible at all in the UK because these parties have been around for decades and the UK operates one of the strictest fiscal responsibility regimes in the world. We believe therefore that this is an insignificant volume for the FIRS to emphasize. We also believe that the extent of deep poverty in Nigeria cannot allow any responsible political party declare ‘surplus’ in Nigeria even if their officers are very responsible to society.
Nigerians need to be sensitized and socialized to understand that they need to fund their political parties through dues and donations rather than see parties as a conduit for the vicarious looting and sharing of a commonwealth that should otherwise be spread and spent in a way that ensures that EVERY Nigerian regains their dignity and humanity through a much needed socioeconomic development.

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