“You are taxed when you deposit money, taxed when you take money”.Some Nigerians whine.
“Yesterday, I woke up and I got several debit alerts. 4 Naira, 200 Naira, and so on. Then I called my bank and they said the charges are for the government”. Another wails in utter disappointment.
“When you buy a data plan of 3GB , the network takes your money in a few days” .Another Nigerian moans painfully. “And the service is so poor”!
“There is nothing wrong in taxing phone calls. Nigerians talk a lot on the phone” -Tunde Fowler, Nigeria’s tax collector.
Although, I do not know if there is a mortuary tax yet, it is now impossible to take corpse from one of those without paying the government in one fashion or another. The bereaved and morgue owners must pay stamped duties among a raft of other nebulous charges that banks imposed on people. With the active cooperation of government of course. Only Thursday, minister of Budget, said that they are considering excise duties on “soft drinks” even though those have been included in the company income tax and companies have all but fled to Ghana.
Nigeria’s president, Mohammadu Buhari and his harried deputy, often contradict each other as to the number of people which the government “is committed to lifting out of poverty”. They make it look like evacuations from disaster scenes which is truly what Nigeria looks like at the moment.
Beyond talking at cross purposes, the government has only announced policies that are akin to forcing patients on life support machines to donate blood.
The government even floated the idea of introducing toll gates across the woefully bad road network across Nigeria . The intention is , ostensibly, to fix the roads but critics say that it is actually a toll on their lives into the pockets of the government.
The government has jacked up VAT to 7. 5% and the heat has already been shifted to consumers along with an inevitable inflation.
Like an addict who must get a fix, the government is even fleecing banks in a fiendishly clever sort of way. Here is how it works:
Banks must lend 60% of their deposits to business people and if they fail to do so, they would be fined. And the banks can’t get debtors because nobody has business to do. For instance, if you take out 1 billion Naira, you’d be owing the bank 250 million Naira even before the final signature. Those who have power and clout have taken these loans before without paying. The euphemism for the scheme is “under performing loans”. Indians and Chinese companies which are cagey try for these loans but the banks have wised up.
Well, the government’s doesn’t give a damn. You find debtors or else! And a lesson has already been taught.
The government has slammed and collected billions from banks for “failing to comply with CBN directive”. For their inability to lure borrowers, that is. Of course ,the government knows the banks will fail. That is really the purpose of the “directive”. Below is the first heist by government on 12 banks.
According to an approved debit instruction, the affected banks and the amount they will pay are: Citibank (N100,743,055, 321); First Bank of Nigeria (N74,668,880,480); FBNQuest Merchant Bank (N2, 697,456,144); First City Monument Bank (FCMB), (N14, 371,064, 742) and Guaranty Trust Bank (N25, 147, 933, 628).
Others are Jaiz Bank (N7, 525, 165,552); Keystone Bank (N4, 162, 938, 879); Rand Merchant Bank (N2, 823,177,399); Standard Chartered Bank (N30,027,137,984); SunTrust Bank (N1,703,205,427); United Bank for Africa (N99,676,181,916) and Zenith Bank (N135,629,337,625).
And the bad news for the banks is that government is holding the keys to their deposits.
Oh, did I mention that the government has also taken from Nigeria’s pensions fund? Oh yes they have. The fund was about 8 Trillion Naira rich until government moved in on it. 6.2 Trillion Naira has been “borrowed” by the government. From a pensions fund.
Nigeria’s version of NIS or Social security number, National ID card, is now renewable with 3,000 Naira. Even though the card gives Nigerians no benefits, their citizenship can now expire in which case, you’d need to renew it. Should you lose it( a number?) you pay 5000 Naira for a new one! The real story is another form of tax. And to ensure that parents and non taxable teenagers don’t escape it, Nigeria’s college board, JAMB, has “made it mandatory for candidates and parents to have NIMs in order to be elligible for enrolment for the exams”.
Lastly( on taxes) , the FIRS is now holding on to your current account in excess of 50 million Naira until you do business with the tax collectors. Sterling Bank is their enforcer. You can’t do further business until you play ball. It is officially called a lien. Strangely enough, it was lifted for 30 days a week before February’s general elections.
And so, to fund a spending habit that was occasioned by a lack of due process and financial propriety, the government must tax everything.
And really finally,what happened to the money recovered from “looters”? Mr Buhari has been minister for oil since 2015 and he won’t steal money unlike Deziani Alison Madueke before him. But why does NNPC announce regular losses? Why is Nigeria broke?
According to Zainab Ahmed, the government has not fully captured its debt profile. In other words, 25. 7 Trillion Naira is all we know for now.
That Nigeria has the capacity to impose and pay enough tax to fund its operations is a lie. The companies are half dead and the citizens a broke. Pure and simple.
As for “lifting” Nigerians out of poverty (10 million or 100 million),people just laugh. Who can blame them? The government doesn’t understand the situation to start with. You have a huge hangover from a recession you tell yourself you have come out of. Instead of stimulating growth by lending to banks and companies, you are imposing taxes. Economics is not a complex science.
What’s a more, this government has not made good on a single promise in nearly 5 years. Why should it be believed now?