Taxing phone calls is not the problem

Taxing phone calls is not the problem

 i would love you guys to check what i just found out about the new taxing of phone

If Nigeria follows through with plans to impose taxes on telecommunications services, Nigerians who are already struggling will be further impoverished. This is in addition to the proposed data hike which begins today and already generating a lot of disapprobation among Nigerians. There is no clear reason why the government is doing this other than the fact that it needs money. When the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, spoke on the data price hike some months ago, he said the government was unaware of the decision. Now that they are aware, what is their response to it? Or, are they waiting for people to lead a revolution against them before they respond? While folks are still mulling the potential telecoms tax, the Federal Inland Revenue Service announced that Nigerians would subsequently show evidence of their tax payment to apply for passports.
The trouble with such a disparate taxing agenda is not only that it is being trotted out in a recession when prices of foodstuffs, energy, fuel, and virtually every basic amenity have gone up, it is the lack of coherence to these policies. From the Central Bank of Nigeria’s stamp duty to telecoms tax, and now the FIRS, there is a need for some method to this madness. If every agency in Nigeria responds to the times by haphazardly coming up with its own taxation plans, or some kind of levy, they will only create more problems than what already exists. In fact, they will probably open up more avenues for corruption to flourish.
If Nigeria begins to throw all manner of taxes at people, especially at such a difficult time as now, they should not be surprised that people will counter with illegitimate means of circumventing payment. Nigerians have more than enough reasons to refuse to pay any more taxes than what they already do. As it is, the government exists, but in permanent abeyance; people are forced to provide their own basic comfort. There are already insinuations that fuel price will need to go up once more to match extant economic realities but nobody has the heart to start such a conversation with poor Nigerians right now. With the way the inflation rate has stretched the Nigerian’s legendary patience to the limits of its tensile strength, and the introduction of taxes, we may be facing a long and unending night.
I acknowledge that taxes are inevitable in a polity and the government needs them as a channel to raise money. However, Nigeria’s plans to tax and hike in a cruel recession are a cruel stumble through her culture of underdevelopment rather than work to rise above it. In first world countries, it has been possible to tax almost every item including bus tickets and cups of coffee because they have an efficient electronic system of collecting such taxes right at the point of sale. Nigeria lacks the required infrastructure and that perhaps explains why the government reaches for industries such as telecoms where the taxes they rake in can be easily harvested. Unfortunately, the government cannot simply be selecting one item after the other and imposing deathly taxes on them.
Instead, it should draw up a plan that streamlines all these attempts into one articulate agenda and communicate it to Nigerians. It will of course need a database that helps track who has money that can be taxed and who does not. For instance, what evidence of tax payment will be required of an unemployed citizen who has saved up to acquire a passport? If Nigeria does not know the conditions of people’s existence and how they change, for instance, from employed to unemployed and vice versa, how can it tax efficiently? If we do not have viable data about people, where they live, what they earn, and how much taxes they should pay, how can government claim they are looking into the future and plan for it accordingly? It is very tempting to resort to raiding people for money so that Nigeria can survive a recession but if there is no intelligibility to it, we will only be digging further.
Since government in Nigeria is gradually becoming a matter of “us vs. them”, the second thing government needs to communicate is what it is going to give up. Is it shrinking bureaucracy to a bare minimum, learning to do more with less and less? Have they given up their allowances and perks entirely? You cannot tell the people that times are hard and a lawmaker tells us that the decision of the House of Representatives to buy luxury cars is justified because President Muhammadu Buhari’s aides drive Land Cruiser and Lexus SUVs. In these hard times, governors still walk away with their pockets full of money that could have gone towards paying junior workers’ salaries. If we are going to tighten our belt through the recession, let us start with our head and not with our thinning waistline.
There is an existing argument frequently touted, that Nigerians could fashion a better society if they paid more taxes; that people would develop more interest in governance than when national income is derived from extractive products like crude oil. The argument that with civic participation we may be able to build and sustain a better polity is valid on the surface. However, Nigeria’s issues have consistently defied sociological analyses. For years, we were told that for Nigeria to develop, the oil in the ground we rely on would have to dry up. When that happens, they said we would be forced to find other means of sustenance and thereby rejuvenate the economy. But here we are today, stuck with fallen oil prices, a bleak future, and a crop of leaders who are sincerely confused as to the way out.
 Fashola, the gods are not to blame!
In his convocation speech at the University of Benin last week, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, remarked that, “Sango is the god of lightning and thunder, but all the sacrifices made to Sango have not generated one kilowatt of electric power.” Let me make it clear that I understand the point Fashola was making within the context of the entire speech but his choice of which god to denigrate is a cowardly decision. Fashola could have referred to the gods that dominate Nigeria’s public space – the Christian and Muslim – and risk being ripped into shreds by their adherents. Instead, he reaches for a marginal god, one that has already been endlessly disparaged in popular culture by a tribe of ignoramuses. Sango does not deserve such a gratuitous insult from a national public official.
Why allude to Sango, whom no public official sacrifices to (at least publicly) when both the Christian and Muslim adherents are the higher consumers of public resources? Sango’s shrine is not the largest in the country, competing with his peers to homogenise the public sphere; Sango is not the one we worship in business centres that have now been converted to religious houses; Sango does not have enough followers who can contend for their representative to be appointed to public office. Nobody gets forex subsidy to visit Sango’s shrine but Nigerian Christians and Muslims have had no qualms using public money to fund their pilgrimages. Why not take down the actual sources of religiosity that impede social progress rather than use Sango as a rhetorical diversion?
Besides, Sango worshippers are not simple-minded dolts who expect him to bequeath them electricity. The Greeks, for instance, see Apollo as the god of Music but European/western culture did not wait for him to write their classic music scores. They also take Bacchus as the god of wine but they do not chide him for not running a winery. Diana is the goddess of hunting while Athena is the goddess of intellection but who actually sacrifices to them so they can give anything back? These are mythological figures around whom people build a cultural economy and from there enrich their imagination. We see how much this has benefited mankind and we should be borrowing ideas from there, not running down our indigenous mythology.

source: punch nigeria

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