Monday, 29 August 2016

Oyo State: No to Anti-People Tax Regime


The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State Chapter warns and cautions the Abiola Ajimobi-led government against harassment, arrest and prosecution of poor workers, traders and artisans under the pretence of an anti-people regime of taxes. This is reportedly aimed to realise projected internally generated revenue, IGR of 5billion Naira. 

The state government revealed recently through the Special Adviser to the Governor, Mr Biyi Oloko, and Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun that it’s set to commence an enforcement and prosecution of every citizen who fails to comply and support the government’s revenue generation drive through payment of taxes and levies.

This report which was published in the 12th August, 2016 edition of the Nation newspaper also has it that the provision of infrastructural facilities like roads, security, education and health care needed to facilitate the growth of the state will not be realised except citizens pay their levies and taxes.

As much as it is true that state needs sufficient revenue to be able to fulfil its constitutional obligations like provision of infrastructure and social services to the citizens, it is largely untrue and blackmailing for government to continue to give a false impression that the absence and collapse of infrastructures and social services in the state is because poor people don’t pay tax.

 As a matter of fact, the working and poor people are already overtaxed as a result of  government anti-poor policies of privatization and attendant mass retrenchment, commercialization of education, health and other social services; collapsed infrastructure, among others. It is a known fact that every Nigerian household is a government on its own; generating their own electricity, water, medical service, etc. Even, people now construct their own roads. Sadly, the cost of education and health has made many people turn to medieval solutions, religion centres and native doctors.

 As long as payment of tax is meant to be a reward of good governance, Oyo SPN will continue to insist that Ajimobi-led government lacks moral capacity to arrest or prosecute any worker or poor traders who have been so impoverished and deprived of the capacity to pay tax. It will be irresponsible and insensitive of Ajimobi-led government, which has failed to bring any meaningful development to the state despite the huge sums at its disposal at a period of economic boom to begin to harass or arrest victims of its misrules and bad governance for their inability to pay tax.

Senator Ajimobi/APC-led government should instead focus its searchlight and direct its anger mostly at gang of thieving ruling elites who are perpetrators and beneficiaries of looting of public treasury; tax avoidance; and tax holidays that often responsible for why monies that should have been used to improve on infrastructure and provide social services often found their ways into private pockets of dubious contractors and top government functionaries.

SPN blames these few dubious contractors and their collaborators in government for absence and collapse in infrastructure and social services by extension the inability of the working people to pay taxes. It is in the light of this that SPN emphatically demands a progressive taxation which will make the rich to be taxed more than the poor as well as open investment of the proceeds in the area of need of the people like roads, schools, hospitals which are currently in a deplorable condition.

SPN also condemns the anti-people arrangement whereby, 30% of the state IGR is awarded to individuals who masquerade as private firm in charge of the collection of the IGR. This dubious Public Private Partnership, PPP, is a way of siphoning public resources by a few rich individuals. It must be stopped while all the necessary public agencies that are statutorily in charge of the collection and remittances of tax and IGR must be empowered, properly funded with adequate incentive to its personnel for an effective performance.

Yes, there is a decline in monthly allocation compared with previous years. Nevertheless, SPN holds that there is enough resources to pay salaries and pensions and implement some developmental project and social services. For instance, the June 13, 2016 edition of Vanguard newspaper reported that Ajimobi-led government received over N84billion between May 2015 and June 2016. This is a confirmation to the fact that the reason Oyo State government continue to fail to bring any meaningful improvements to the life of its citizens is not because it is broke but as a result of a self-serving resolve to maintain the outrageously high salaries and allowances as well as opulent lifestyle of the political office holders and its acolytes in business.  

 Even if the government denies receiving N84bn in a year, we still hold that the state has enough resources for salaries, pensions and developmental projects.  This is why SPN will continue to demand that the governor should scrap his security votes and also stop corrupt practices, wastages and inflation of contracts, high cost of governance in order to free up resources for developmental projects and wellbeing of workers, masses and students.  

 Except and until the menace of looting of public treasury; tax avoidance by the rich and ruling elites; tax holidays for private companies (multinational and local) and the general symptom of capitalism like corruption, inflation of contracts is curbed, any additional resources at the disposal of the state government will not only fail to translate into any meaningful development in the life of the toiling masses but will also always end up in trying to satisfy the insatiable looting thirst of the capitalist ruling class.

This why SPN continues to hold that only a government run on a socialist programme  including democratic control and management of public resources by working people is capable in  ensuring that the entire resources of the society  are allocated to meet the needs and expectations of the generality of the society.

  Bamigboye Abiodun (Abbey Trotsky)
 The state secretary,

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