The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has requested that the federal government raise taxes on the “rich” across the board and that governors over the age of 50 resign.
The union made the proposals in a letter signed by Ayuba Wabba, NLC’s president and submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.
To avert the looming economic crisis, the governors recommended that the FG raise VAT to 15% and offer a one-time retirement package to public workers over the age of 50.
The governors’ initiatives were supposed to be part of a concerted attempt to instill budgetary discipline and prevent the country from collapsing. However, according to NLC, implementing the retirement proposal would result in the dismissal of roughly a quarter of the workforce.
“Under this, if state governors strongly believe that age 50 is the problem, we demand that all governors, public office holders and politicians above 50, as a mark of good faith, should immediately step aside.
“Leading by example would spur public servants to take a cue,” the letter reads. Due to current global realities, the workers’ union asked the federal government to make a 50 per cent salary review.
“While we commend you for your thoughtfulness for a wage increase, the truth of the matter is that given the misfortune that has befallen the Nigerian populace, especially workers with fixed incomes, there is an urgent need for a massive intervention much deeper than the 22 per cent. We would recommend a 50 per cent salary review across the board given the realities on the ground,” the union said.
Speaking on the governors’ proposal on the increment of value-added tax (VAT) levels to 10 per cent with a timeline to further raise it to 15-20 per cent and introduction of a flat rate of 3 per cent, the union said it would adversely affect the underprivileged.
“These recommendations seek to make the poor pay more taxes while the rich pay little or nothing in clear violation of the well-known norm of the rich paying taxes to cover up for the poor.”
It urged the federal government to “raise taxes across the board for the rich, including increased taxes on luxury goods and lifestyles”. Speaking on the governors’ suggestion that foreign trips by MDAs, including budgetary-independent agencies, the union said it does not canvass for a total ban.
“Foreign trips ordinarily serve their useful purposes, but they have been abused by MDAs, especially budgetary-independent agencies such as the CBN, FIRS, NPA, MIMASA, NCC, NITDA and other blue-chips.
“This acts as a big drain on our resources. Accordingly, while we do not canvass for a total ban, there should be some control, a limit to foreign travels. The number should be pegged per year until we have a turn-around,” it added.
The union disagreed with the governors on petrol subsidy removal, saying it “could lead to unintended consequences which we would be better off without”.
“Truth is that the little benefit the average person in Nigeria enjoys could lead to unintended consequences which we would be better off without,” it said.
“The solution to subsidy and the ballooning deficits lies in domestic refining, effective management of our refineries, and creating an enabling environment for effective and efficient public sector leadership in the building and management of local refineries.”
“We do concede that a quick and enforceable resolution of the conflicts around ownership of gas in various entities is key to freeing up investment space for foreign direct investment and local businesses in the country.
“Sadly, prolonged inter-agency fighting has become a familiar feature of your government. You would need to put your foot down pending the paperwork.”