…Says non-funding of education, health, research institutions cause of poverty
By Victor Young
ONE of the highlights of the seventh Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, that took place few days ago in Abuja, was another outcry of unbearable tax burden.
Addressing guests and members of the union, Chris Ani, lamented that despite the existing burdens, new taxes were being introduced daily by both the federal and state government aimed at emasculating workers and other venerable Nigerians.
While kicking against the recently introduced charges by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on bank accounts, arguing that they were offensive to the already over-burdened workers by the excessive Pay As Your Earn, PAYE, tax system, Ani said: “The increase in Value Added Tax and the increases in the charges of withdrawals and deposits by the Central Bank of Nigeria to say the least are very provocative to a workforce that is already over burden with excessive PAYE tax. The tax system in Nigeria is not broad base as it is very clear that only workers pay taxes in this country.
“It is unacceptable that the country is ever ready to give tax concessions and tax holidays to business while increasing taxes that affect workers adversely. The Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, has indicated government’s intention to cap it up with what he calls communication tax because according to him, Nigerians talk a lot.
“These mindless taxation is carried out to prove to Bretton Wood Institutions and other foreign lenders, that the country can internally generate sufficient revenue to settle the ever increasing foreign debts. We must rise as a movement to challenge this insensitivity of Governments to the tax burden that is crushing Nigerian workers.”
Similarly, the NASU president lambasted governments at all levels for poor funding and neglect
of public health and educational institution, arguing that the deliberate refusal to fund these institutions was compounding endemic poverty in the country.
According to him, the failure of government to fund public education, research and health institutions nationwide was driving force for the endemic poverty among workers and Nigerian populace.
He said “The union has played and continue to play a critical role in struggles aimed at ensuring that governments at all levels adequately fund educational, health and research institutions. We do this, conscious of the fact that the neglect of the funding of our public health and educational institutions is at the heart of endemic poverty among workers and the masses of this nation.”
Speaking on the theme of the Conference: “Funding Education, Health, Research Institutions and Other Social Services in a Depressed Economy: Challenges and Prospects”, Ani lamented that the public office holders were no longer concern with the state of public health and educational institutions as their families and themselves had since lost faith in these institutions.
“They rather have opted to patronizing privately funded health and educational institutions at home and abroad, at great cost to taxpayers of this nation,” he said.
Ani noted that the union had daily advocated and struggled for improved salaries, wages, allowances and other conditions of services as well as the security of jobs of its members, and other workers in Nigeria.
On the state of the economy, NASU President argued that Nigeria’s economy had remained in a state of comatose as a result of over dependence on oil revenue, insisting that governments at all levels had become extremely lazy in terms of fashioning out and implementing policies to grow the economy and bring about real development of the nation.
He said: “The only viable economic policy known to the federal and state governments is the monthly convergence in Abuja by Ministers of Finance, State Commissioners of Finance and other government functionaries to share revenue from the federation account generated through the sale of crude oil and taxation.
“This state of affairs continue to foist on the nation, economic crisis, which governments at all levels hide under, to down play the role of the state, in favour of the role of markets in economic development; attacks on collective bargaining and agreements; cut on public expenditure on staff welfare; wage freezes/wage stagnation; less protection for workers who are left at the mercies of powerful employers including governments.”