New Telegraph

Atiku to Buhari: Tinker with budget, tax super-rich

Onyekachi Eze ABUJ A


Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has proffered ways on how Nigeria could exit from her second economic recession in four years. Nigerian economy was, again, declared recessed over the weekend. It first contrasted in 2016 and it took nearly a year before it could recover.


But Atiku, who was candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election, said the second recession could have been avoided if President Muhammadu Buhari had listened to wise counsel.


Atiku, however, said there is no need of hair splitting at this moment, adding that what the nation needs now is critical leadership to guide her back to the path of economic sustainability.


“We must focus on solutions. We must act now, by taking necessary and perhaps painful actions,” he advised. One way of doing this, Atiku stated, is for President Buhari to tinker with the 2021 budget presented to the National Assembly in October.


“Nigeria neither has the resources, or the need to implement such a luxury heavy budget. The nation is broke, but not broken.


“However, if we continue to spend lavishly, even when we do not earn commensurately, we would go from being a broke nation      to being a broken nation,” he warned.


According to him, every non-essential item in the proposed 2021 budget should be expunged. Among the items he listed, are estacodes, nonemergency travel, feeding, welfare packages, overseas training, new vehicle purchases, office upgrades, non-salary allowances, etc.


“Until our economic prospects improve, Nigeria ought to exclusively focus on making budgetary proposals for essential items, which include reasonable wages and salaries, infrastructural projects, and social services (citizenry’s health, and other human development investments).


“Additionally, we have to stimulate the economy, by investing in human development, and increasing the purchasing power of the most vulnerable of our population.


“Only a well-developed populace can generate enough economic activity for the nation to exit this recession. “We must invest in those most likely to be impacted by the effects of the recession, the poorest of the poor, as well as stimulating the economy.


This also ensures that they do not slip further into extreme poverty,” he stated. The former vice president emphasised the payment of stimulus package, in the form of monthly cash transfers of N5,000 to every bank account holder, verified by a Bank Verification Number (BVN), whose combined total deposit in the year 2019 was lower than the annual minimum wage.


He suggested that this could be funded, not by borrowing, but by imposing tax on luxury goods and services “that are exclusively accessible only to the super-wealthy. A tax on the ultra-wealthy to protect the extremely poor.


“A practical approach to this is to place a 15 per cent tax on all Business and First Class tickets sold to and from Nigeria; on all luxury car imports and sales; on all private jets imports and service charges; on all jewellery imports and sales; on all designer products imported, produced or sold in Nigeria; and on all other luxury goods either manufactured, or imported into Nigeria, with the exception of goods made for export.


“The proceeds of this tax should be exclusively dedicated to a Poverty Eradication Fund, which must be managed in the same manner as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, or the Ecological Fund.


“I further propose that a one per cent poverty alleviation tax should be legislated by the National Assembly on the profits of every international oil company operating in Nigeria, and international airlines doing business in Nigeria, which should also go towards the proposed Poverty Eradication Fund.


“It is inhumane for us as a nation to increase the cost of goods and services that affect the poor, while keeping the cost of luxuries fairly stable. We must flip this, and flip it immediately.”


Atiku cautioned against foreign borrowing for anything other than essential needs, such as borrowing to pay salaries, or to engage in white elephant projects.


The former vice president urged President Buhari’s administration to swallow its pride, accept its limitations, “so that they can open their minds to ideas, without caring who the messenger is.”

Read Previous

Buhari’s anti-trade policies liable for recession – PDP

Read Next

Unity Cup starts in Nasarawa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *