National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has openly disagreed with President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to increase Value Added Tax (VAT), warning that attempt to further reduce the purchasing power of Nigerians would be counter productive and spell doom for the administration.
“This is why I appeal on Mr Osinbajo (Yemi) and his team to put a huge question mark on any increase on VAT please”, Tinubu said.
Tinubu spoke Thursday during the 11th colloquium event marking his 67th Birthday celebration at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
The comment by the former Lagos State Governor followed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, disclosure that the administration has concluded plans to increase revenue by introducing new taxes.
Mrs Ahmed who spoke at the public hearing on the 2019 budget organised by the Senate and House of Representatives committees on appropriation Wednesday said the Federal Government has devised a new revenue initiative to increase revenue to fund this year’s budget.
She said the initiative is segregated into three thematic areas and appealed for the support of the National Assembly.
Opposing any plan to increase taxes, Tinubu said the government should rather widen the tax net and include those who are not yet being taxed. “Let’s make the nets get bigger so we take in more taxes.
“That is what we must do in the country instead of putting an additional layer of taxes for now.”
Tinubu counseled Buhari’s administration not to burden the citizenry with foreign economic models that bring penury as it projects towards the next level.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, represented President Buhari at the event.
Tinubu, whose speech was entitled, “Work for the people that the people may work for themselves”, pointed out that in a bid to achieve the desired economic boom for Nigeria, the government must resist the temptation to blindly follow the economic path of other nations. Tinubu also warned against the planned increment of taxes by the government, saying it would worsen the poverty levels of the common people.
The former Lagos Governor suggested that the government could widen its tax nets rather than raising taxes in order not to exacerbate the plight of the people.
After assessing the economic models and performance of many leading countries and highlighting the challenges associated with them, Tinubu counselled Buhari that a conscious effort must be made to build the Nigerian economy to work better for Nigerians as he assumes his second term in office.
Tinubu said: “Our pursuit of the Next Level cannot be achieved by blindly following the economic path of other nations. That would be tantamount to racing to live in a building just as its long-term occupants were frantically rushing out, screaming that the edifice was mean and crumbling. If we are smart, we dare not enter
“Instead, we must construct our Next Level on a progressive ideology and vision that will take our people out of penury, diversify our economy more aggressively, and empower and retrain our youth. To be the great nation we purport to be, we must reform and retool our economy according to our definition of what is best for our own people. We cannot assign that duty to anyone else.
“Here, I must ask for a little liberty to amend the fine title of this colloquium: “Work for the people.” We must do more than simply work for the people. Government must “work for the people in a way that enables them to better work for themselves.
“We must amend our basic ideas about the economy. We must divorce ourselves from our fixation with GDP rates and similar statistics. These things were initially intended to be indicators, suggestive measurements. However, we have misinterpreted these road maps by treating them as if they were the destination itself.
“This has caused us to distort the organic relationship between the people and the economy. This dominant train of thought has made the people servants to the dictates of abstract economic theories. In a more effective system, the economy would be fashioned to serve the concrete needs and legitimate aspirations of the people.
“Our economy must be redefined to be an efficient yet moral social construct with the primary goal of optimizing the long-term welfare of the people through the sustained, productive and full employment of labour, land, capital and natural resources.
“In the current global context, the best translation of laissez faire economics is “let’s stay poor” economics. To believe that we are at our best when everyone focuses solely on maximizing their own position is to believe that one hundred hands can clutch at the same naira note but no one will get scratched.
“To pull the nation from poverty, government must play a decisive role. It must at times direct and even develop markets and opportunities. This is nothing novel. I am only restating what the established economies did when they were young and assumed their trajectories toward growth.”