NECA urges Buhari to suspend increase in excise duty, others

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By Joan Nwagwu

The Nigerian Employees Consultative Association (NECA) has urged the Federal Government to immediately halt the astronomical increase in excise duty and the implementation of new taxes and levies across the board.

Mr Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, Director-General of NECA, made the appeal in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja.

Oyerinde stated that the suspension of the increase was necessary because organized businesses are bleeding and struggling for survival.

According to him, the federal government should immediately halt the implementation of the recently announced astronomical increase in excise duty as well as the introduction of new taxes and levies across the board.

“The Roadmap as previously agreed on Excise should be adhered to, in the spirit of policy consistency.

“If implemented, the increases will be counter-productive as they will aggravate the current rate of unemployment, encourage smuggling and discourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

“It will also reduce the purchasing power of Nigerians and actively promote the relocation of businesses to other countries (Corporate-Japa). With the multi-dimensional challenges currently faced by organised businesses, a gift that Nigerians do not want is an increase in taxes,’’ he said.

He also said that government should not leave behind a legacy of tax burdens that would endanger the fragile growth achieved in the economy on the altar of revenue generation.

However, he advised the government to reappraise its adherence to the principles and spirits of Fiscal Discipline as enshrined in various legislations.

According to Oyerinde, with over 60 different taxes, levies and fees paid by businesses annually in Nigeria, we are fast becoming a pariah state to investors.

“As the Voice of Organised Business in Nigeria and a critical Stakeholder in Nigeria’s economic renaissance, we reaffirm our commitment to Decent Work, Responsible Enterprises and the protection of Workers and Enterprise rights through all legal and legitimate means.

The NECA boss also felicitated the Nigerian workers as they celebrated the 2023 International Workers Day with the theme “Worker’s Rights and Socio-economic Justice”.

He said that the theme was apt as workers had continued to contribute to the economic and socio-political progress all over the world and Nigerian in particular.

“As the global economy continues to witness disruptions coupled with political upheaval in many regions, the need to continue to protect not only workers’ rights but also human and Enterprise rights cannot be over-emphasised.

“Worker’s rights encompass a range of issues, including living wages, decent work, access to medical care, safety and health at work, bridging gender gaps, and freedom from discrimination among many others.

“These rights thrive in an environment that promotes socio-economic justice. All these are in the different International Labour Organisations (ILO) fundamental instruments, which Nigeria is a signatory to,’’ he said.

Oyerinde therefore, added that it is a time of deep reflection on the state of the struggle: where we were years ago, where we are today and where we hope to be a few years from now.

According to him, this reflection will give us a clear scorecard of how we have really managed the struggle.

“This includes the struggle for Enterprises’ sustainability and competitiveness; wealth creation and equitable distribution; and an environment where social and economic justice is guaranteed.

“As we appraise the past and navigate a path towards the future, we urge organised Labour and indeed all stakeholders that no effort should be spared in promoting and defending Institutions that have been created to advance Industrial Harmony and Social Dialogue.

“We must continue to deepen our engagement through Social Dialogue with the view of leaving a long-lasting legacy of productivity, equitable distribution of wealth and social justice for generations unborn,’’ he said.

He also called on Organised Labour to continue to partner to advocate for a hospitable business environment that would ensure equitable distribution of wealth for the collective good.

Oyerinde commended the government and other Social Partners on the recent approval of the draft Labour Bills by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“We urge expeditious action that will facilitate the passage of the Bill within the shortest possible time,‘’ he said.