By Racheal Ishaya
The CSOs were reacting to the recent announcement by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, that the Federal Executive Council had approved the proposal to increase VAT from five percent to 7.5 percent.
The CSOs, under the auspices of Tax Justice and Governance Platform, (TJGP) Nigeria, in a joint statement on Friday in Abuja, advocated for the promotion of a progressive, fair and transparent system in which domestic resources would be utilised for people-oriented development.
The CSOs in the Platform are Christian Aid, ActionAid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, OXFAM Nigeria and Imo State Tax Justice and Governance Platform.
“We call on the Federal Government to pay serious attention to widening the tax net rather than increasing the rate, which will only place more burden on the few that complies and still exempts the majority that do not pay taxes.
“If government wants to still go ahead with the increase, we expect empirical projections and evidence-based expected outputs to indicate that the tax yield from the increase will outweigh any disadvantage and potential negative impact.
The CSOs urged government to, in the meantime, reduce the tax incentives granted to multinationals and consider full digitisation of the processes of tax administration to curb leakages in the system.
“We call on the Federal Government to again beam its searchlight on illicit financial flows from Nigeria, as it represents a source of substantial revenue leakage and loss to government.
The group called on all Nigerians, especially civil society organisations, the media and labour, to continue to raise their voices against measures and policies that would further impoverish Nigerians.