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Taxation: Oxfam, others seek review of Nigeria’s tax policies to address inequality, poverty

*Oxfam Nigeria, an international Non-Governmental Organisation and other stakeholders urge the Federal Government to address inequality and review extant tax policies, citing inequality taxation as a contributing factor to the high rate of poverty in the society

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of the current practice of payment of higher or multiple taxes by market women, artisans and farmers, Oxfam, an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has urged tax authorities and administrators to review of tax policies in Nigeria.

The organisation stated doing this would help to reverse the current trend of payment of higher taxes by the vulnerable than the rich in the society.

Dr. William Mafwalal, Acting Head of Programmes, Oxfam Nigeria, made the call on the sideline of the Fiscal Accountability for Inequality Reduction FAIR4ALL Media Colloquium and Exhibition, in Abuja, FCT.

Oxfam Nigeria organised the programme in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Connected Development (CODE), Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), budgiT and Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, agency report said.

Mafwalal, representing the Acting Country Director, Oxfam Nigeria Hamza Tijani, frowned on current practice of payment of higher or multiple taxes by market women and farmers.

The participants in the colloquium were drawn from Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), National Environmental Standard Regulations and Enforcement Agency, as well as National Human Right Commission (NHRC), among others.

How tax inequality breeds poverty in Nigeria, by Oxfam

Oxfam Nigeria also described the inequality as a contributing factor to the high rate of poverty in the society.

Dr. Mafwalal also noted: “Our tax system need a lot of work to ensure that this taxes are collected as they should and also ensure that the people saddled with the responsibility of pushing this taxes do their job.

“We have seen through research conducted that vulnerable people down the ladder in terms of economic status are the ones that pay more taxes than people up there having more economic opportunities due to policies and systems put in place by our government.”

The Acting Head of Programmes at Oxfam explained “the policies give sometimes tax relieve on some of these corporations and organisations that are supposed to pay heavy tax and allow the vulnerable market women and farmers in the villages pay tax on everything that they need or access to earn a living.

“Government should look at their policies again and ensure that those policies are balance that is ensuring fair taxation.

“Those who are suppose to pay taxes should pay those taxes and those who are suppose to pay more pay more while those that are suppose to pay less pay less.”

Oxfam empowering civil society to address inequality, poverty

According to him, the vision of Oxfam is for a Nigeria without inequality and poverty, and where every voice counts.

Oxfam Nigeria’s mission is to strengthen and empower civil society to help shape a Nigeria without inequality and poverty.

Oxfam, he explained, is trying to foster partnership among government agencies to strengthen system and block leakages within the tax system as well as ensure the budget system is as participatory as possible and delivery services as it ought to community.

The Acting Head of Programmes further said: “Part of what we are doing is Oxfam strategy of reducing inequality and gender justice and also contributing to global Oxfam strategy on just economy, gender justice and accountable governance.”

Likewise, Henry Ushie, Project Coordinator of FAIR4ALL, identified the programme as a global project being implemented across 14 countries, including The Netherlands.

Ushie stated: “The overall objective of FAIR4ALL is to see how we reduce inequality as one of the root causes of poverty.

“Base on the research we conducted we realised that the reason for this much poverty is inequality which has really be endemic.

“We need to end that menace that is why this programme was introduced.”

He affirmed through the programme supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oxfam since inception of the programme, had been able to work across policy area to foster policy implementation within the tax industry in Nigeria.

The Project Coordinator at FAIR4ALL also acknowledged, the organisation in collaboration with partners “have also ensure that budget is as participatory as much as it can and also promoted fair taxation.”

Speaking at the forum, Foluso Adejoro, Policy Adviser, Food Security and Climate Change, Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, expressed concerns at the high inequality in rural areas in the West African country.

Adejoro, however, said everyone should strive for a positive change.

The Policy Adviser on Food Security and Climate Change congratulated Oxfam and other partners on the progress so far in tax justice.

He noted that it was important “in driving change the action start at the community level.”

Joseph Amenaghawon, Strategy, Growth and Analytics Adviser, BudgiT, said the biggest trigger was to energise Nigerians to prioritise fiscal accountability.

Amenaghawon suggested the measure could be used to deal with challenges of inequality.

According to the Strategy, Growth and Analytics Adviser of BudgiT, the organisation is working with Oxfam in three focal state of Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta, identified one of the biggest area as collaborating with the media.

“Also to train government around open contracting and also enabled communities better understand the dynamics around budget and planning.

“Ultimately the combination of all this things will enable citizens directly involved in how to manage public finances and most importantly how we can then use that to deal with challenges of inequalities,” said he.

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