By Gabriel Ewepu & Fortune Eromosele – Abuja
A non-governmental organisation, non-partisan and civil society organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, yesterday, called for fiscal accountability to effectively tackle tax leakages in the country.
This was stated by the Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, who was represented by the Director of Resource, Mobilization and Innovation, AAN, Andrew Mamedu, at the National Tax Summit 2021, with theme ‘Fiscal Accountability: A Panacea for National Development’ held in Abuja.
Ene who described Nigeria’s tax policy as good pointed out that the leakages within the system has marred the objectives of government.
she also decried the incessant borrowings that government has embarked upon, saying it endangers the country’s economy.
She said: “The crisis of revenue mobilisation has become a recurring thing in our journey as a country.
“The question of why should Nigerians pay tax should not exist, we must pay tax. If Nigerians must pay more tax, then we must see change and development.
“If we are borrowing we have to be responsible with our borrowing, if we continue in this trajectory, in the next five to 10 years, what will happen? When are we going to stop the borrowing? Yes several countries still borrow, we know that, but when do we get to the point of self-sufficiency that we know that we can run our economy with a good amount of our resources.
“Between 2010 and 2020 the total public debt has grown geometrically in Naira and Dollars. In Naira, it grew by 500 per cent and in Dollars it grew by 150 percent. This is the amount of debt that we have to deal with.
“If we don’t deal with this, we are going to continue in the circle of borrowing, tax therefore is the answer.”
She also charged CSOs to work together as partners with federal government towards changing the narrative in the tax system.
However, she (Ene) lamented growing numbers of over 83 million Nigerians living in poverty as over 40 per cent Nigerians are living below poverty line currently.
“It gives us concern. The young persons are not getting jobs, and more percentage of Nigerians is youth, how would the economy grow with these statistics. If we don’t work on this we might not see anything positive in transforming the economy”, she pointed.
Meanwhile, she (Obi) speaking on wage cut in Nigeria as recommended by the International Monetary Fund, IMF, said that Federal Government should not accept it, because N30, 000 minimum wage remains inadequate for Nigerians, rather IMF should recommend cut in cost of governance.
“One of the discussions we had with IMF, they said we need to cut down on wages. The question is what wages are we cutting down on? Is it the minimum of wage of N30, 000. And we calculated the 30,000 minimum wage, we used the parallel market rate, it is giving us just about $55 per month.
“There are places we know we can cut wages from let us look at our politicians, the cost of running governance, how do we cut down leakages from those places. This also includes the need for alternative resource mobilisation and the heart of this is fair taxation”, she added.