States against sale of alcohol should not benefit from alcohol tax - Atiku

By FactNews on 13/12/2016

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Former Nigeria’s vice president Atiku Abubakar has said states opposed to the sale and consumption of alcohol should not benefit from tax paid on alcohol.

Atiku stated this at the public presentation of a book, “Nigerian Federalism: Continuing Quest for Stability and Nation-Building”, produced by the African Policy Research Institute.

 

According to Atiku, “If a state is opposed to cattle tax or bicycle tax or alcohol tax, or pollution tax, for instance, it should not expect to share in the tax proceeds from those items. That is called fairness.

 

He added that, “sales taxes ought to be collected and used by states and local governments. Of course there is nothing inherently wrong in a federal sales tax but states must agree with the federal government what items should be taxed, at what rate and how the proceeds are to be shared. They ought to be uniform.

The ex-vice president who have been a advocate of restructuring Nigeria, acknowledged that the “our strange federal contraption” has monopolized powers due state governments.

 

“We must acknowledge that in federal systems that work, federating units cede certain powers to the centre. In our strange federal contraption, it is the centre that is creating federating units, giving them money and monopolising most power and resources. Thus our state governments are no longer performing as federating units. Rather they currently seem like dependent provinces of the central government in Abuja.


“In fact, states should be the ones collecting those taxes on behalf of the federal government and get compensated for their work, through an agreed sharing formula, rather than duplicating the cost of collection. Federal intrusion makes it more difficult for a state to collect taxes from items that may be peculiar to it, thereby narrowing the tax base. And it makes enforcement even more difficult,“ he said.

He continued by saying, “Our state governments are nearly dependent on the Federal Government, meaning they do not even have the autonomy that we are trying to give to the local government that are below them.


“We are all witnesses to the agitations and complaints by different sections of the country at different times about being marginalized or short-changed in fiscal allocation and the distribution of such other public resources such political positions, jobs, school admissions, provision of infrastructure, and even social honour.


“In response many Nigerians have been calling for some form of restructuring of our federal system, while some small fringe groups insist on their part of the country separating from the federation all together.

“What I find odd and somewhat unhelpful is the argument of those who say that we cannot renegotiate our union and who proceed from there to equate every demand for restructuring with attempts to break up the country.

“I believe that every form of human relationships is negotiable. Every political relationship is open for negotiations, without pre-set outcomes.

“As a democrat and businessman, I do not fear negotiations. That is what reasonable human beings do. This is even more important if a stubborn resistance against negotiations can lead to unsavoury outcomes.”
The former Vice President added that: “We must acknowledge that what got us to our current over-centralised and centre-dominated federal system is political expediency and fear, and bolstered by the command and control character of military regimes.”

 

 

Posted on December, 13 2016

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