Multiple taxation, anti-people policies characterized President Tinubu’s 1st Year in office

Fri, May 31, 2024
By editor
7 MIN READ

Economy, Featured

For millions of Nigerians, the first one year of the administration of President Tinubu will be remembered for multiple taxation and lamentations over hardship caused by anti-people policies of the federal government. And whether the state of affairs will persist in spite of the growing army of angry youths and social activists is hard to predict.

By Goddy Ikeh

THE widespread impact of the hardship experienced by Nigerians in the first one year of President Bola Tinubu’s administration must have been responsible for the overwhelming knocks by both stakeholders and analysts on the review of the administration’s performance.

For instance, the “scorecard” of Tinubu’s first year in office has been a tale of rising inflation, weak Naira, and huge decline in sectoral performances.  It will be recalled that during Tinubu’s first year in office, the headline inflation rate moved from 22.22 per cent in April 2023 to 33.69 per cent in April this year. Similarly, the Nigerian currency, the Naira depreciated during this period due to its floating from 461.76/$ as of May 2023 to $1,479.69 currently.

On the upside, the Gross Domestic Product grew by 0.47 per cent year-on-year, from 2.31 per cent in Q1 2023 to 2.98 per cent, while crude oil production also rose by 15.65 per cent to 1.33mbpd as of the end of the first quarter of 2024.

In its scorecard, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, observed that Tinubu’s first year in office was characterised by rising public debt, soaring inflation and interest rates, weakened Naira and declining performance of the manufacturing, agriculture and telecom sectors.

The LCCI stated that the Nigerian economy was in an adjustment mode “with several variables like stubborn inflation, persistent weakening of the Naira, supply chain disruptions driven by insecurity, and weak production base, defining the outlook at any given time.”

The Director General of the LCCI, Chinyere Almona, said that while policy choices had been liberal on the sides of the monetary and fiscal authorities, expected outcomes had not been recorded yet.  

“The fight against inflation has not been successful, as the prices of goods keep an upward trend, with the inflation rate rising from 22.22 percent in April 2023 to 33.69 percent in April 2024, recording more than a 10 percent leap in 12 months.”

“Nigeria’s debt stock was N97.34 trillion ($108.22 billion) at the end of 2023, compared to N87.38 trillion ($113.42 billion) at the end of June 2023. This represents an increase of about N10 trillion. The total public debt stock increase is reflected in domestic and external debt,” local media reports quoted the director general as saying.

On the impact of fiscal and monetary policies on the manufacturing sector since the inception of Tinubu’s administration, the LCCI stated that the manufacturing sector experienced fluctuations in its growth rates throughout the quarters of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, reflecting both challenges and opportunities.

 “The first quarter of 2024 presented some challenges, with nominal GDP growth slowing to 8.21 percent year-on-year. Quarter-on-quarter growth was negative at -17.67 percent, reflecting a contraction. Despite this, the sector’s contribution to nominal GDP remained substantial at 14.79 percent,” she said.

The Chamber in a statement advised the federal government “to fix the forex crises, adopt a lower exchange rate for import duties on imported raw materials for manufacturing, offer manufacturers concessionary interest rates in the face of shrinking credit to the private sector, and ensure the policy environment is stable and predictable” in order to buoy the fortunes of the manufacturing sector.

It added that in the first year of Tinubu’s administration, the agriculture sector was impacted mainly by insecurity, fuel subsidy removal, and consistent exchange rate depreciation, which increased the cost of fertiliser and other input costs.

For the manufacturers, it has been lamentations that the multiplicity of taxes, levies and fees have continued to hamper the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in the global space. Against the backdrop of the advent of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), this action of the federal government puts Nigerian manufacturers at a disadvantage with their African counterparts, with the nation’s corporate tax rate at over 30 per cent well above the global average at 23.37 per cent and African average at 27.6 per cent.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the umbrella body of manufacturers in the country, had all through the period complained that the nation’s manufacturing sector was groaning under a multiplicity of taxes and levies, noting that over 30 of such different taxes, levies and fees are being charged by various government agencies.

In addition, the Civic-tech platform, BudgIT has rated President Tinubu’s administration low in fiscal transparency. In its appraisal of the first-year performance of the administration, BudgIT said: “Fiscal transparency has declined under President Tinubu’s administration. The Budget Office has yet to release the 2023 Q2 Budget Implementation report, despite the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s mandate that it be released 30 days after the quarter’s end.

“Also, the Federation’s Fiscal Accounts, including receipts from all collection agencies and payments out of the Federation Account, have not been released since August 2023, when they were last uploaded on the Open Treasury portal.”

Meanwhile, the Africa Polling Institute (API) has said that hunger, poverty and dissatisfaction are the harsh realities of President Bola Tinubu’s One Year in Office, as an overwhelming majority of citizens (84%) express profound sadness with the current state of affairs in the country.

The latest survey of the API, released on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, said: “Their voices, filled with dissatisfaction, are a clear call for action, as a significant majority of citizens (81%) feel the country is headed in the wrong direction, identifying Hunger (36%), Inability to meet basic needs (28%), Unemployment (13%), Heightened Insecurity (9%), and Poor Electricity Supply (5%) as the biggest challenges facing them personally today.

“In addition, a staggering 74% of citizens affirmed that their personal economic situation has deteriorated over the last year, compared to 20% who said their personal economic situation had remained the same and a mere 5% who said it had improved.”

The national survey, according to the API, was administered between May 1st and 18th, 2024, to elicit citizens’ opinions and assessments of President Bola Tinubu’s first Year in Office and that it was conducted using a stratified random sampling method, ensuring representation from all nationwide demographic groups.

It explained that a total of 3,996 citizens were interviewed, providing a robust and diverse dataset for analysis. Furthermore, in terms of the job performance of President Tinubu, a significant 78% of citizens expressed that he had performed abysmally, with 49% rating him “Very Poor” and 29% “Poor.” This widespread dissatisfaction also extends to the performance of other arms of government, as a striking 81% of citizens rated Senate President Godswill Akpabio dismally, compared to 79% who rated Honourable Tajudeen Abbas, Speaker of the House of Representatives, poorly. Also, the Nigerian Judiciary under the CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, was not spared, as 75% of citizens also rated him poorly.

“Interestingly, 68% of citizens thought that none of the cabinet members had performed well since their appointments. However, 32% were willing to identify those they considered the top and least performing ministers,” the survey said.

The API concluded from the survey fieldwork that “a growing mass of aggrieved and discontented citizens nationwide, especially among the youth. Many are unemployed or underemployed and have become local crusaders and social activists in their communities, waiting for the slightest opportunity to vent their anger against fellow citizens and the Nigerian state.”

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-May 31, 2024 @ 17:59 GMT|

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