Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja.
Former Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, has faulted federal government’s plan to increase Value Added Tax, VAT from 5% to 7%.
Ndume, who spoke with State House correspondents after meeting Vice President Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, said the planned increase would affect the poor in the country.
Ndume would rather that property and communication taxes are increased.
“You see that is something I did last time; I feel that increase in VAT is going to have a spiral effect; and it is going to affect the poor more.
“It is true the government is not expanding the revenue base or the tax.., that is why I am thinking that anybody that is using telephone here would want to just talk and pay for it, of course.
.“But right now, none of you will say this is what I am paying for telephone; if it tells you one minute remaining, you start looking for any recharge card.
“But if you are taxed on that, you won’t say you want to talk again because you are taxed.
Senator Ndume said the effect of increase in VAT would be that every commodity, even transportation from one point to another, would increase.
He said the burden of the increase would be on the poor, insisting that communication service tax be introduced to raise government revenue.
“You know the money the service providers are making out of communications.
“So, that is why I sponsored that Bill last time but it didn’t pass because of time and of course service providers opposed that.”
On property tax bill, he said “Let me add one thing, yes we have a government; the tax should be paid by those who can; who should or can afford that tax.
“Like in Abuja now, you see so much property; if you value them, property tax is something not paid; I am not paying too simply because nobody is paying; nobody asked me to pay.
“In Nigeria, for example, the resources is in the hands of few people; why don’t you tax these few people instead of going to tax the poor man that is trying to survive.
“So, this is my position and I think this Communications Service Tax is part of it; ask those that can afford telephone, 60 million of them; why do tax 200 million people? Tax the 60 people that can afford it and you get what you want.”
Speaking further on Property Tax Bill, he said “I am working on property tax bill not only that, I am working on another bill; maybe it will not see the light of the day; people are having what they can’t explain; they should be asked.
“The burden of proof should be on that person; if I have a mansion and my income as a senator does not commensurate with that, if you want to fight corruption, you put the burden on me to prove where I got that money.
“In Britain nowadays, it is called Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), I am working on that too; that if you own a car, you explain how you got it; because of that if you don’t know where to go with what you steal that doesn’t belong to you, you don’t even start.” he said
He also spoke on the proposed reintroduction of toll gates on Nigerian highways.
“You see, the state of our infrastructure is of concern; there is virtually collapse in our infrastructure; if the purpose for which the toll gates will be placed will serve the objective of keeping the roads not only motorable but effective and safe.
“Like the Abuja-Kaduna road for example, where there is toll gate, you will be able to place security there and if you place these people there, you have to pay them,” he said.
He also disclosed that he briefed the Vice President on the humanitarian crisis in his state, Borno State.
“I am here to see the vice president and for some of you that have been here for a while, you know that I come from time to time; I have a relationship, very personal with the vice president; just like the president too.
“More especially, I come to brief him from time to time on the humanitarian crisis that we are facing because the vice president is personally passionate about it.
He adds that the Vice President has an orphanage that is running effectively, accommodating over 2000 orphans.