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CSOs seek tax reforms to tackle poverty, inequality

A coalition of over 17 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called for the adoption of a progressive taxation regime to curb inequality, poverty,..

A coalition of over 17 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called for the adoption of a progressive taxation regime to curb inequality, poverty, and food insecurity in Nigeria.

It made the call on Thursday in Abuja at a two-day National Tax Summit (NTS) organised by the Tax Justice and Governance Platform (TJGP).

The members said  the current retrogressive tax system was creating poverty and inequality in wealth and hampering national development.

Progressive taxation means higher tax rates for those with higher income or more wealth, so that those who earn or have more are taxed at a higher rate for the benefit of the society.

In his keynote, the founding Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), Dr. Otive Igbuzor said the Oxfam report on inequality in Nigeria documented that the main drivers of inequality were retrogressive taxation; poor budgeting system and allocation.

 “Oxfam studies have documented that there are three proven areas to reduce inequality significantly: one, public services, looking at education, health and social protection.

“Secondly, taxation, looking at how progressive structures are on paper and in practice and thirdly, worker’s rights with a particular focus on women’s rights,” Igbuzor said.

Also, Senior Programme Coordinator, Christian Aid, Mr. Victor Arokoyo, said there was need for an equitable and fair tax system so CSOs were interested in how the government utilised resources they get from tax and ensuring that there should be accountability in how they collect tax.

Mr. Kenneth Okoineme, from Action Aid Nigeria (AAN), said it was a known fact that the   nation was struggling with resource mobilisation to fund development.

He said that the summit was geared towards looking at the alternatives paths that the government could take to guarantee sustainable financing for development.

“So, government needs to take action around the unwarranted granting of tax incentives, we are all witnesses to the Pandora papers which is an indication that tax avoidance and tax evasion is still happening,” he said.

He also said that the federal government in its 2022 budget projection talked about improving revenue to GDP of the government from the present eight percent to around 15 percent by 2025, should be worked on and should not just be a pay lip service.

Mr Henry Ushie of Oxfam International Nigeria Campaign lead on inequality, said the organisation believed poverty was rooted in inequality such that if Nigeria was able to stop all issues on inequality and end all its drivers, poverty would be reduced.

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