Taming the excesses of the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP)

May 9th, 2018

With the Federal Government Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 already operative, its multifarious action plans are slowly being felt.

Quite aptly its three-pronged drive remains to restore growth to the economy; invest in the Nigerian people and build a globally competitive economy.

However, save a rethink is quickly applied, this noble aspiration may hit the rocks a�� what with the scheme apparently visiting the populace with levies rather than succour.

Among other things, the plan aims to increase our non-oil revenues. It hopes to do this in part by identifying a�?leakages in our revenue value chaina�� which have been partly traced to many of us not paying their individual and company taxes as and when due.

To this effect, the Federal Ministry of Finance has developed a tax intelligence unit aimed at gathering data on Nigerian companies from several sources.

From these they have supposedly identified those running the risk of criminal prosecution for tax evasion. They have duly forwarded letters to them to take advantage of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

Originally proposed to terminate by the 31st of March, 2018, it has now been shifted to the 30th of June, 2018.

A really painstaking exercise, this move has again shown how hard the various apparatchiks of the present regime are working at changing the country like was promised by the ruling party during its electioneering campaign.

However, it must be pointed out that ever since they came on board, hardly has any of their many fond promises come to fruition. Like indicated by every index a�� from the dollar exchange rate to the price of finished petroleum products a�� they have ever been learning on the job.

Therefore, not a few of our compatriots have come out to question this bold move of taxing private companies with no concerted effort made at seeing to easing the mode of doing business like they promised. ..

While the local entrepreneurs are left to battle with indeterminate correlates that range from insecurity to the dancing cost of electricity, transportation and funds, their mates in the international front also have to bear the additional weight of an unstable foreign exchange regime.

All these notwithstanding that to the officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on whose desk the job falls, every monies accruing to a company is taxable.

A disparity so confounding given that presently it is more difficult for most business in the country to make profit as it is for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

Just imagine the kind of profit a company based in the Northeast, for instance, would be making even in these a�?waninga�� days of Boko Haram.

Or even one in the Southeast, for that matter, after all the commotion heaped on them by the militarya��s serpentine dances at the height of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) marches.

As a result so many pundits have come to see these bills being heaped on these companies as levies rather than taxes.

It is indubitable that taxes are based on net profits arrived at only after overheads and sundry expenses are removed from gross earnings.

These same specialists have also come up with the view that the exercise will, if not tamed, see more people working harder at the dodging of taxes than in their payment.

Here at The Authority, we are agreed that rather than this hurry to imprison people for setting up businesses in this harsh environment, government should be more minded with first making sure, like they promised, that the provision of a�?a more business friendly economic environmenta�� a�?is first implemented before chasing after businesses that are not tax compliant.

After all, some of these appropriated sums may end up being used to pay bailouts to governments who are not left out in the adverse effects of these unfriendly economic indices. When indeed in some other climes, they are rather offered to encumbered private businesses so as to enable them attain tax compliance soon.

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