Recently, Nigerians woke up to news from the chambers of the Senate about a Communication Service Bill.The bill , sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume , if passed into law would further increase the number of taxes to be paid by people in Nigeria.
That bill seeks to tax users of GSM and electronic communication devices for voice calls, data usage and sms.
This new tax would add to the Companies Income Tax , Personal Income Tax , Capital Gains Tax , Value Added Tax , Education Tax , Technology Tax, Stamp Duties Tax and Withholding Tax. Besides, if the kite, to bring back toll gates on federal roads flies, coupled with the plan to increase the percentage of value added tax , Nigerians and people living and doing business in Nigeria would groan louder under a heavy tax burden. The way our politicians are carrying on, they may move to tax the air we breathe.
In a robust and responsible economy , taxes are reasonable as they are meant to mobilise funds to finance government activities especially the maintenance of security , provision of healthcare facilities, schools and infrastructure.
However, in the last couple of years , most people in Nigeria have not benefited much from the windfall which accrues from the myriad of taxes imposed so far. The sustained menace of Boko Haram terrorists and other insurgents , a regime of darkness occasioned by epileptic supply of electricity , completely dilapidated roads exemplified by Calabar – Itu super suffering highway to decaying structures in academic institutions and other frustrations that attend grappling with life in Nigeria make the various taxes collected in Nigeria a huge scam.
Right now , a large number of Nigerians are jobless , the federal government is on a borrowing spree , the minimum wage law is yet to be fully implemented, the police and other security , paramilitary services are very poorly paid and their barracks have become ghettos. Who is “eating” these taxes ?
It takes common sense to know that taxing people to fund the profligacy and exotic lifestyle of political executives, particularly those in the executive and legislative arms of government is a foolish hangover.
Too many taxes , lack of transparency, and poor corporate governance practices scare away investors from coming into Nigeria and drive away those who had already set up businesses. The drying foreign direct investment has created unemployment and impacted negatively on economic growth. Industrialists and business people take their money to tax heavens and locations where there are more competitive tax incentives .This encourages economic growth. It should not be a curse to live and do business in Nigeria as a result of taxes , taxes and more taxes.
Rather than embark on a tour to search for new taxes to bring into Nigeria, the government should think about how to create more employment , pay a living wage which would bring in more people into the tax loop, right size government agencies and plug loopholes in government expenditure.
There must be better options than taxes, taxes and more taxes in a country without employment opportunities and where the minimum wage is a pittance.
Taxes are basically desirable especially where the people see and enjoy the benefits of taxes. Although Nigerians are known as ” a suffering and smiling people ” the government should not take for granted , the resilient spirit of Nigerians.