Chemical workers have warned the Federal Government that the Value Added Tax (VAT) increase from five to 7.2 per cent would further impoverish them.
The workers, under the umbrella of the National Union of Chemical Footwear Rubber Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE), recently, rejected the Federal Government’s VAT proposal, adding that they would intensify campaigns against the increase.
Its National President, Goke Olatunji, said closure of the nation’s land borders was already taking its toll on the sector, adding that the increase in VAT would add to the various challenges facing their members.
In addition, he said the increase would erode any benefit the increase in the new national minimum wage would bring to workers and Nigerians.
According to him, government should widen the tax net and get people to pay tax, rather than over-tax those already in the net.
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He said: “We reject the increase as it will further lead to more burden for us. At the moment, many of our members are finding it hard to survive as a result of the closure of the borders. Many of our members cannot export their goods to neighbouring countries.
“Not only that, it will also erode whatever purchasing power the minimum wage may bring. We see it as a move not well thought through with the welfare of Nigerian wage earners in mind.
“Its impact on Nigerian manufacturers and job creation and retention will be nightmarish. It is clearly insensitive to the plight of the ordinary Nigerian.
What the government needs to do is to widen the tax net and get people to pay tax and not to overtax those that are in the net as of now.”
Olatunji said this would also erode the gains that are meant to arise as a result of the timely passage of the 2020 budget.
He said: “Yes, it is a good thing that the 2020 budget was passed early, but I don’t see the budget making much impact, despite the timely passage.
“This is because the challenges facing us are enormous. One of the problems we face in our sector is erratic power supply and our employers, like other employers in the country, are not finding it funny because they spend so much on alternative sources of power especially generators and diesel for most of their operations which has eaten deep into their profits.
If you recall, Dunlop and Michelin were major companies in our sector, but they left this country because of harsh operating environment, mainly the issue of power, and threw all their workers into the unemployment market.
Today, their products are everywhere in the nation’s market.”
Source: The Nation