Nigeria: Tinubu Warns Govt Against VAT Increase

The Tinubu Colloquium.
29 March 2019

The national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has warned the federal government against the plan to increase Value Added Tax (VAT).

Speaking at a colloquium held in commemoration of his 67th birthday in Abuja yesterday, Tinubu said such action which would reduce the purchasing power of the people and further slow down the economy.

The federal government had hinted at an imminent increase in VAT when the Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma and the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler engaged with the Senate Committee on Finance on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

Fowler told the committee of an imminent increase of VAT from the current five percent to about 6.75 percent and 7.25 percent.

He said this is to meet up with the agency's revenue target of N8 trillion for 2019.

However, the APC leader said, "Consumer spending is dipping and this is the place I will stop and appeal to Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president and his team to put a huge question mark on any increase on VAT, please.

"If we reduce the purchasing power of the people, we can further slow down the economy. Let us widen the tax net. Those who are not paying now, even if it is inclusive of Bola Tinubu, let the (tax) net get bigger and it will take in more taxes instead of additional layers of taxes. For now, I stop there."

Tinubu, who spoke on the privatization in the power sector, said the exercise must be revisited as affordable and reliable power will drive the industrialization that provides jobs in cities and produces needed goods for all people.

He said the most important of infrastructural demands is the power which he added has been the greatest discovery of humanity in the last thousand years.

"This privatisation must be revisited. Put experts together for a more constructive reform to improve generation, transmission, and distribution by any means necessary. We cannot afford to be too legalistic about this.

"Also, we should push to end the practice of billing people for electricity they never received. This practice is a vestige of the past that should not accompany us into the future. A person should be charged accurately and only for the power that they use."

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented President Buhari at the event recalled how the celebrant's dogged belief led to the hiring of 63 foreign forensic experts who assisted the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to reclaim its mandates in Osun, Ekiti, and Edo States.

Osinbajo described the celebrant as an embodiment of merit whose vision led to the creation of the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), Lekki Industrial Zone, and the reform of Tax System in Lagos State among others.

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