From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has said that less than 40 million people in Nigeria out of an estimated 200million pay taxes to the government.
Speaking to Daily Sun, in Abuja, chairman of RMAFC, Mohammed Bello Shehu, said that if 100 million are living in extreme poverty what about the other 60 million?
“The number of people that pay taxes in the country should be hovering around 40 million and we are a nation of over 200 million. If you say 100 million are living in extreme poverty what about the other 60 million? Any country that succeeds you will find out that its people are very patriotic. They are able to pay taxes. I am an advocate of Nigerians paying taxes.”
“The concept of multiple taxes is based on peoples’ perception. Have you been to Malaysia or Ethiopia? These are developing countries. Whatever service you pay for, our VAT is still very low. Check it out in comparison to other African countries. Go to South Africa. Without taxes you cannot even do much. Here, we rely on crude oil money to do whatever we want to do. You have to be taxed.
The taxes collected on the highway, how much does that bring? When you rent a hotel does that hotel remit the VAT to the relevant authority? Sometimes they don’t and there are many hotels around that remove the VAT and you as citizen, do you have any mechanism to check if your VAT was paid into the appropriate authority? Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has done a lot of reforms and are becoming more friendlier. You can go and pay in your tax. In general, Nigerians like to dodge tax. They don’t like to pay taxes,” he said.
On the controversial jumbo salary of the president and other political office-holders, the chairman declared that there’s no political office-holder that earns more than N1.2 million including the president.
“On the issue of jumbo salary, there is no political office-holder or judicial officer in Nigeria that earns a jumbo salary. I have said it in the public that the salary of the president is not more than N1.2 million a month and nobody earns higher than that – not even the Chief Justice of the Federation or the Senate President. The salary of a minister, after removing taxes, is slightly under N1 million a month. “This was from 2018 to date and you know some people will like to bring this issue up on the salaries of other workers that are not political appointees but in reality, between 2008 to date how many times have the salaries of workers been reviewed? Many times. In 2008 I believe the minimum wage was around N5,000 but what is it today? So, there have been a lot of changes and like I said, the commission is not responsible for that. We have National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and I think they are working on it. I saw the chairman the other day and he said that they are working with the Head of Service (HoS) and stakeholders. They are trying to come up with a certain package that everyone will be satisfied with. I am not against workers. I am for good salaries and for good of workers.
I believe after working for 30 to 35 years you should be able to do well for yourself, own a house and do things that can sustain you. At the National Assembly nobody gets a jumbo salary.