The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, has claimed that the Nigerian government is not ready to collect tax because ‘they don’t like being questioned’.
Sowore stated this while appearing on Arise TV’s Morning Show to comment on the new Finance Act and what he would likely do differently if he emerges president.
He said his solution would be to improve the tax-to-GDP ratio to a significant level. According to him, this can be achieved by ensuring that taxes are paid by everyone that is supposed to pay taxes, as opposed to increasing taxes.
More on Sowore’s tax plans: He also noted that his interest would be to make the tax to DGP consistent with those of other African countries. He also said that unnecessary tax holidays given to companies should be ruled out.
“I am not going to increase tax. My interest is to get a tax-to-GDP rate that is consistent with at least Africa. In Africa, we are about 7.5% (I may not be correct) but we should push that to about 15%. Make sure people are paying taxes that they should be paying.
“I mentioned oil companies that should be paying taxes. You can’t get that kind of laxity in countries that are functioning,” he said.
Need to eliminate tax waivers: He added that there is a need to eliminate tax waivers and grants that are given to companies that are already doing too well. According to him, Over N16 trillion in taxes granted to about 5 companies in Nigeria is unfair and unjust and criminal.
“If we have a tax collection spread that takes us to 15% or 20% consistently in global standard, you have more than enough money. So you don’t need to overtax people because that in itself is a disincentive for businesses or even savings and this is why I question all the economists that come on TV. They keep repeating the same thing. They will just go and copy what they have seen in other countries without looking at the circumstances governing the tax policies of those countries.”
“I lived in the US for about 20 years, when my income was about the minimum wage when I pay taxes, I get all the taxes back at the end of the year. There is no repayment of taxes here. Even VAT, you are supposed to return VAT to whoever aids the taxes at the end of the year and we have no explanation to give to people for why we are irresponsible like that.
“I want to say something about taxes; the government in Nigeria is not ready to collect taxes because if you collect taxes from people, they will ask you questions so they depend on the freebies from the oil industry or wherever they can get the freebies from because they don’t like being questioned.”