The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned and rejected Federal Government’s 6% stamp duty on tenancy and lease agreements to be effected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, lamented that the new financial burden was coming at a time when the masses are contending with poverty, and confronted with socio-economic pressure arising from Covid-19 dislocations, which he said was pushing them beyond their limits.
While urging government and the FIRS to rescind what he termed as “harsh fiscal measure”, he said it was boldly insensitive to the material condition of Nigerians which has been compounded by the pandemic. He said: “The NLC rejects this new stamp duty policy on rents and leases as it would worsen the deplorable situation faced by Nigerian workers most of whom, unfortunately, are tenants. It is also alarming that we are having a rash of hike in taxes and user access fees when other countries are offering palliatives to their citizens.
“This means that tenants which this new policy targets are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It would be illogical, insensitive and inhumane to churn out laws that make our poor go to bed at night with tears in their eyes. “The principle of public taxation especially progressive taxation all over the world is that the rich subsidises for the poor. Every tax policy that would be enforceable must create a safety net for the poor. Recent policies of government indicate otherwise. “Accommodation is a fundamental right guaranteed by Nigeria’s constitution.
It is unimaginable that tenants who are in the most vulnerable group would be expected to pay 6% tax for accommodation when sales tax is 1.5%. This is indeed a great injustice against the Nigerian poor. Government must take deliberate steps to avoid institutionalizing the widespread belief that it is a crime to be poor in Nigeria.” Wabba, who said the congress understands government needs for money to run governance especially at a time of global economic challenges, stressed that the answer was not in further exploiting the already exploited.