GSM tax: Labour, CLOs fume, threaten showdown

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GSM tax: Labour, CLOs fume, threaten showdown

GSM tax: Labour, CLOs fume, threaten showdown
August 27
06:19 2016

Labour movements and civil rights organisations are on a collision course with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration over the proposed communication tax.

Groups, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Civil Liberty Organisations, vowed to shoot down the GSM bill.

The bill, which has been submitted to the National Assembly by the Ministry of Communications, will empower the Federal Government to impose nine per cent taxation on all calls, texts and data packages if passed into law.

The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, described the planned telecommunications bill as a bad policy with potential to deepen poverty in the society.

“If they go ahead with it, we will also, through the National Assembly public hearing, before passage into law, make our input to it, by submitting a memorandum,” he said.

Ozo-Eson said that the tax was regressive as it would have more adverse effects on the poor than the rich.

He said that the poorest segment of the society needed telecommunication to run their lives and their small businesses.

Ozo-Eson stressed that while the NLC believed that the Federal Government should come up with taxation to raise revenue, the burden should not be on the poor.

He said, “We believe it is a bad policy, it will visit more hardship on Nigerians by the very nature of the tax, it is a regressive tax because even the poorest require communication to run their lives.

“Even the small traders depend of communication via GSM to be able to transact their businesses and therefore the tax that is imposed across board is regressive.

“And the burden is higher on the poor. While we agree that the government should design taxes that should raise revenue, we believe that progressive taxation would be the best way to do that.”

He urged Buhari’s administration to focus on the rich in the drive to regenerate revenue through taxation.

He said, “We always insist that you must do a tax system that does not put unnecessary burden on the poor. We need a tax system that is progressive, not regressive.

“When you have a tax system that is regressive, it means you are placing undue burden on the poor in the society. A progressive tax system gives relief to those at the very bottom of the income ladder so that they are not taxed, or are even placed on minimal taxation. That is how other societies function.

“And then, of course progressively, you tax those that are more capable, and who have more income and more wealth. This is what we think Mr. President must strive to put in place, to target the rich and the wealthy.”

Ozo-Eson, who also commented on the claim by the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, that the current administration had created millionaires through the sale of foreign exchange, urged the monarch to provide more facts on the issue.

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