Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a civil rights advocacy group, yesterday urged the federal government to eliminate multiple taxes and the 10% excise duty imposed on carbonated beverages, which is forcing factories and manufacturing companies to close and relocate to nearby nations with favorable business climates like Ghana and the Benin Republic.
In a statement, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the National Coordinator of HURIWA, claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s National Economic Council (NEC), which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has done little to help the economy of Nigeria.
The group claimed that even though Buhari promised to lift millions of people out of poverty during his campaign for office in 2015, he has actually done the exact opposite of what he said, as his government’s economic policies have driven even more Nigerians into poverty, with an unemployment rate of 33.3%, or about 23 million able-bodied, active adults without jobs.
Members of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) recently lamented that more than 5,000 employees in the sector had been laid off within eight months of 2022, reflecting the growing job loss caused by multiple taxes and other crippling business conditions by the Federal Government.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko commented, “It is very bad that all economic development indexes are in red and the levels of unemployment, poverty, and hunger have exploded out of control. It is so evident that there is a mismatch between the economic team of President Buhari, if they are still in place.
“It is evident that the soaring prices of diesel, cooking gas, electricity tariffs and the general sources of energy make it difficult for businesses to thrive in Nigeria. Yet, the government is insensitive by imposing multiple taxations and unthinkable excise duties to further burden businesses who are supposed to be encouraged to keep providing jobs for citizens as the government has no job anywhere.
“With inflation rate at a new 17-year high of 20.77% in September 2022 and food inflation at 23.34%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, prices of food and essential commodities have skyrocketed to more than 100% in some cases. “
In fact, N1,000 barely buys a piece of bread while the cost of common household necessities like tubers, pepper, garri, cassava, rice, and other grains has skyrocketed!
“The situation has since gone from bad to worse with the flooding that has ravaged over 20 states across the Federation, washing away thousands of hectares and acres of farmlands. The situation has since moved from worse to worst with the planned redesign of the N1,000, N500 and N200 notes money hoarders, who don’t want to take their money to bank, troop into markets and purchase the foodstuffs in bulk, thereby creating a higher-bidder scenario and artificial scarcity which is totally avoidable in the first place if the government is reasonable in its economic approach and avert the impact of flooding on farmers.
“Naira is falling in value to the dollar and the CBN is bent on redesigning the Naira at this time with a very short timeframe and just a few days to election thereby fueling currency speculation with the Naira being one of the worst currencies on the globe at the moment. This is tragic more so because the finance ministry and apex bank are working at cross-purposes thus compounding the economic adversities affecting millions of Nigerians.
“The Federal Government must take steps to avert the total collapse of the economy of Nigeria because if the economy collapses then constitutional rule and democracy will inevitably collapse. The government must build back the confidence of manufacturers by removing burdensome taxes and duties, incentivise businesses with tax breaks to retain them in Nigeria, amongst others. check the government’s assisted massive thefts of crude oil resources and financial leakages in the system fueling the general condition of economic paralysis”.