Times are hard. Really hard. The economy is in recession, and inflation is creeping higher and higher. And yet, it seems the Buhari administration keeps suggesting new ways to tax citizens.
Inflation is already a tax to begin with, so it is no surprise that all these measures – some suggested, others implemented – are getting so many people upset. Let’s go through some of the more consequential ones.
Electricity tariff hike: First, electricity tariffs were increased. The increase should have happened under the Jonathan administration, to be fair, but was postponed for political reasons (elections around the corner, and so on), so it was this administration that had to do it. People rightly wondered why they were paying more for darkness, and there has been no satisfactory answer given yet.
Forex problems: Then came the falling value of the naira. This is one of the most ridiculous policies of this government so far. All the measures they have taken to alleviate the forex scarcity have only made it worse, because they are obsessed with fixing the exchange rate. Of course, it has failed, and as such everything that we rely on that is imported is affected by this, chief of which is…
Increase in pump price of petrol: Petrol. Back in June, months of scarcity were ended when the pump price of petrol rose from N86 to N145, largely because of our exchange rate. It was not even six months ago that this happened, and there is already talk of a further increase. Again, if the forex scarcity was handled better, the price would not have risen so sharply, and may have even gone down a bit by now.
Tax on calls: Not satisfied with his disastrous monetary policy, the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele even suggested a tax on phone calls over 3 minutes recently, saying that as much as N100 billion in revenue could be realised. We get it. The government is looking for money. But this same government has refused to make the hard decisions to reduce its own ridiculous expenditure.
Are toll gates back? A major aspect of this ridiculous expenditure is the National Assembly. They take anywhere from N120 billion to N150 billion a year from the budget, with no accountability. Even so, they are not above putting an additional burden on Nigerians. The Senate recently passed a motion for the reintroduction of tolls on federal highways, money that will be used for their maintenance. Where did all the money allocated for roads in previous times go to? What sacrifices are legislators themselves making in this recession? Exactly. No sacrifices at all.
VAT on passports: If Tunde Fowler, Chairman of the Federal Internal Revenue Service has his way, you must pay VAT before you collect your passport, as well as showing your tax clearance certificate. Apart from the fact that the latter is almost certainly unconstitutional, Fowler may well be about to open a black market in tax clearance certificates. That may even be the point. You see, the FIRS’ is aggressively trying to widen the tax net and it has a target to meet, so all measures are on the table. One question though: what has the Nigerian passport ever done for Nigerians except give them stress when they travel abroad?