NASU Decries Heavy Tax Burden on Workers

* Accuses EFCC, ICPC of levity

. Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has deplored what it described as seemly unending tax burden being imposed on workers by the federal and state governments.

The union, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), also expressed worry that the fight against corruption was not being fought with the expected vigour by the relevant federal government institutions.

Addressing the seventh quadrennial national delegates conference of the union in Abuja yesterday, NASU President, Chris Ani said the federal and state governments were only interested with the first principle of taxation, but jettisoned the second principle of spreading taxation in order to minimise individual tax burden.

“Workers have been consigned by the federal and state governments, under the weight of the burdened of over taxation. As if such burdens are not enough, new tax burdens are introduced daily by the present federal government. 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-burdened with excessive PAYE tax,” he said.

He added that the taxes should be spread over as wide as possible to sections of the population, or sectors of economy to minimise the individual tax burden.

According to him, the present tax system in Nigeria was not broad base, adding that it’s 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 foreign investors, 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 called communication tax, because according to him, Nigerians talk a lot.

“This 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 increasing foreign debts. We must rise as a movement to challenge this insensitivity of governments to the tax burden that is crushing Nigerian workers,” he said.

On the efforts to eradicate corruption in the country, NASU said social vice still remained a hydra-headed monster that’s destroying the economic, political and social fabrics of this nation.

NASU president added that “it is a matter of great concern to it that institutions established to fight corruption and other crimes have failed to adequately carry out the assignments for which they were established.”

The union expressed concern over youth unemployment and underemployment which it said had remained one of the greatest challenges facing the country today.

On the state of the nation’s economy, he lamented that Nigeria’s economy has remained in a state of comatose as a result of overreliance on revenue from oil, alleging that governments at all levels have become extremely lazy in terms of fashioning out and implementing policies that would grow the economy and bring about real development of the nation.

“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, causing attacks on collective bargaining and agreement; 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,” he said.

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