Stakeholders fume as Buhari asks governors to raise IGR, VAT

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday asked the governors of the 36 states to raise their internally generated revenues (IGR) and the Value Added Tax (VAT) in the next four years.

The President said this was to help the states to meet the challenges of providing infrastructure and the funding needed to provide equipment for fighting insecurity.

However, the President told the governors to raise the taxes in such a way that there would be no disruptions to business operations.

Buhari, who spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja when he inaugurated the National Economic Council for its 2019-2023 session, also advised the governors to pay adequate attention to education, agriculture and health.

But the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture have cautioned the government against increasing tax and VAT, saying it would add to Nigerians’ burden.

They advised the government to strike a balance between its desire to raise IGR and VAT with job creation.

Rather than contemplating VAT and tax increases across the board, the Federal Government should increase the tax of the rich and politicians.

But at the NEC chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, on behalf of the President, Buhari insisted that without IGR and VAT increment, it would be difficult for the state governments to meet their needs.

He said, “Going forward, states must in the next four years find ways to increase internally generated revenues, improve Value Added Tax collection and increase agricultural output without disrupting business activities.

“I also want you to work with the federal agencies and the service providers in ensuring that broadband infrastructure is made available all over the country. Information and Communications Technology is the future of work and we must not allow ourselves to be left behind.

“Let me restate the high expectations on NEC as a veritable source of articulating policies and programmes that are expected to drive growth and development, secure our environment and take the country to the next level. Your Excellencies, the challenges that confront us in the next few years, especially in the areas of security, human capital development and employment for our youths are monumental and historic. But we are more than equal to the task.”

As of 2015, many states could hardly afford to pay salaries to their workers, resulting in backlogs of uncleared wages.

The Federal Government had to intervene through the offer of bailouts to the states, restructuring of loans and Paris Club Refund, totalling N2tn to reflate the economies of the states.

The financial situation in many of the states today is said to be worse than the case in 2015, amid dwindling revenue shares from the Federation Account. – Punch.

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