Following the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic and its adverse effect on the socio-economic activities of the Nigerian population, the Nigeria Tax Justice and Governance Platform reaffirms its solidarity with the Government and people as we go through these trying times together.
We welcome and appreciate the deliberate and strategic actions taken thus far by the federal and state governments to stop, limit and mitigate its further transmission in Nigeria.
In expression of its interest in the health, wellness and socio-economic safety of Nigerians and other nationals resident in Nigeria, the Nigeria Tax Justice and Governance Platform urges us to continue to comply with the directives of government at all levels to keep the virus from spreading.
As a responsible and responsive not-for-profit network facilitating universal fair tax justice and good governance in Nigeria, we are constrained to use this medium to call on government at all levels to focus, pay serious attention and take actions that will directly impact the well- being and aspirations of vulnerable, marginalized, excluded and under-served members of our communities. These groups, if not properly targeted will not benefit from the palliative measures announced by governments at all levels to ameliorate their sufferings.
Pertinently, we would appreciate measures that directly target the poor, people living with disabilities, informal sector, unemployed, underemployed, small businesses and start-ups, especially legitimate tax payers.
Following the Corona Virus pandemic, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) earmarked N100billion to enable the country prepare for the worst. Before now, the Lagos State Government had requested for financial support to combat and contain the spread of the virus in Lagos, following similar requests by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The President has already approved the sum of N10 billion which was released within two days of the request to the Lagos State Government and N5 billion to the NCDC respectively. In the same vein, philanthropists, artists and development agencies are set to support the fight in the country, to ensure that these funds are accounted for and used judiciously.
The network is calling on the government to improve on its accountability measures to the citizens, to monitor, drive conversation to spark actions and advocate for a transparent and inclusive approach of concerned stakeholders and private sector groups and individuals to make public all funds released for the fight against COVID-19 and its implementation plans. Government will therefore be expected to provide all these details in the public domain using available technological tools and media platform.
Instructively, after due consultations with our members, partners, stakeholders and the public, we make the following suggestions in the interest of Nigerians as our contribution to stemming the tide of the Corona Virus pandemic in Nigeria and alleviating the sufferings of the people.
Our suggestions are as follows:
- Government,at all levels, should increase accountability and transparency measures in its utilization of intervention funds for COVID-19.
- Putin place monitoring mechanisms towards ensuring that funds meant for the COVID- 19 intervention are accounted for and used
- Promote equal and Improved health care interventions for all victims ofCOVID-19.
- Improved space for citizen’s participation in the intervention in demanding for transparency and accountability in the health sector towards reducing inequality experienced in that sector.
- Improvedresponse of Government at all levels towards equitable distribution of relief materials to citizens, especially at rural and semi-urban
- The inclusion of civil society actors in the various COVID-19 task forces across boardto strengthen transparency, accountability and diversity in the
- The decentralization of the task forces to meet geopolitical needs and deal with specific
- The issuance of a circular from the FIRS/JTB to officially extend the date ofreturns and waive all penalties on late filing of VAT, PIT/PAYE, WHT, CIT and
- The suspension of all consumption taxes by the JTB in conjunction with state governments and compliance by collecting agents,
- Stipulation of a specific timeline for the commencement of the palliative measures as “in the coming weeks” is not good enough and will not allow for effective monitoring and measuring of impact.
- Provision of more proactive, practical and measurable steps or actions using data and info graphics to communicate to the people at both the national and sub-national levels.
- Thedownward review of VAT or a suspension of its implementation to reflect present realities, especially for small
- Granting of tax holidays to the vulnerable and downward review of all taxes toreflect present realities as seen in other progressive
- Government is encouraged to consider paying stipends to workers, registered small businesses and individuals with valid accounts for this
- TheNigeria people are more than ever encouraged to support efforts by governments at all levels to mitigate this unfortunate situation by complying with directives and staying at home as long as it is,
- Sub-national governments should sincerely put precautionary measures in place in the event the pandemic finds its way to their
Conclusively, no time can be better than now to demonstrate solidarity, charity and empathy in society as we struggle together to overcome this scourge.
Long live the people of Nigeria.
Nigeria Tax Justice and Governance Platform.