Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has cautioned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stop crying wolf or seeing ghosts where none exist, especially over federal government’s plan to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent.
Reacting to the PDP’s rejection of VAT, the group warned the opposition party to stare clear of matters that it does not have a full understanding of.
It also urged the party not to undermine a patriotic and genuine effort of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to raise the needed resources to address some of the major infrastructural needs of Nigerians.
The PDP had earlier called on the federal government to reverse its decision to increase VAT, warning that such planned increase would put more pressure on families and businesses and result in an increase in costs of goods and services.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, BMO said if the PDP is genuinely worried that Nigerians could not bear the burden of the 2.2 per cent marginal increase in VAT “under the prevailing economic situation in the country,” the party should have first demonstrated its patriotism and genuine concern for Nigerians by directing its Governors, who were part and parcel of the decision to effect increase in the country’s tax regime, to reject the idea rather than calling on the Federal Government to reverse its decision on the new policy.
“In any case, States and Local Governments stand to benefit more from the increase in VAT; the states get 50 per cent of the VAT collection, Local Governments get 35 per cent, leaving the federal government with a paltry 15 per cent.
“So, it stands to reason that this particular increase in VAT is another bail-out mechanism designed by President Muhammadu Buhari to assuage the woes of those perennially broke tiers of government.”
The group added that even with the new marginal increase, Nigeria has one of the lowest VAT rates in the world, “and considering the huge infrastructural deficit the country is facing today, the current government has to think outside the box and look for how best to raise resources to meet some of the major needs of its people and also ensure that the impact does not put much burden on the citizenry.
“And this is what the government is trying to do with this marginal increase in VAT.”
BMO reminded PDP and Nigerians that VAT is not paid on domestic foodstuffs and local transportation. Other items excluded from VAT are drugs, medical equipment, educational materials and other items that generally affect the purse of the man on the street.
“Essentially, VAT is payable on luxury goods, cigarette, wine, air travel and other luxury items that are the exclusive preserve of the rich and the opulent.
“Also in the light of global trend, it has become imperative for our government to harmonise Nigeria’s VAT rate with what obtains within the ECOWAS region. Even with the marginal increase of 2.2%, Nigeria is still far below all the African countries in the VAT rate regime.
“So what is PDP’s beef about; can it be that those who have grown rich from robbing our commonwealth, most of whom are in the PDP, are now going to pay more for their flamboyant lifestyle?
“It is highly unfortunate that a party that presided over the highest figure of oil receipts in the nation’s history now constitutes itself as a stumbling block to frustrate all genuine efforts of the current administration, which has shown much interest and has demonstrated strong capacity to address the poor infrastructure problems PDP fostered on the nation.”
BMO then called on all Nigerians to ignore the nay-sayers, and rally round President Muhammadu Buhari who has committed himself to good governance, and life more abundant to the Nigerian masses.