“I must say this to Professor Osinbajo and his team: don’t increase VAT, but increase tax net to accommodate those who are not yet paying. Don’t reduce the people’s purchasing power,” National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said on Thursday, pitching his tent with majority of Nigerians who have called on the Federal Government to jettison the idea of increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) from its present rate of 5 percent.
Tinubu, who spoke at the 11th Bola Tinubu Colloquium to mark his 67th birthday in Abuja, stated that hiking VAT would further impoverish the poor who would bear the brunt of the increase.
The former Lagos State Governor said instead of increasing the VAT rate, the Federal Government should widen the tax net and ensure all those Nigerians who had refused to pay their tax were made to do so as a way of raising revenue.
According to him, increase in VAT would not help the ordinary man in the country, stressing that those in charge of generating revenue for the country must begin to think of other sources of revenue.
Also speaking at the event, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo blamed the country’s economic and security challenge on past administrations.
Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event, said bad leadership of the past cost the country major infrastructural development.
“I have said it before, Nigeria’s main problem is not a lack of ideas, it’s not. Most of the time, especially with the leadership of the past, it is lack of integrity in leadership and corruption in particular and it is the reason we are finding it difficult to make any progress.
“That is why we earned $383 billion in four years – 2010 to 2014 – the highest ever in the history of our country and yet Lagos-Ibadan expressway not done, all of what is being done today not done.
“We cannot point to a single major project, a single major infrastructure project that was completed in the ten years period despite the high wealth, including power. So, a government coming after so many years of waste must be a government that first, emphasises fiscal prudence, a government that emphasises integrity in public finance so that we manage the little resources we have to achieve the maximum that can be achieved and that is what President Muhammadu Buhari has set out to do,” he said.
Osinbajo, who served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State during Tinubu’s administration, eulogised the APC leader
“We do it (the colloquium) in celebration of a man who has spent the last 30 years of his life in creative public service. Right from the days of being Lagos governor, he provided clarity of thought and rare vision in all aspects of life.
“Once in a while, I think that history gives us people who are gifted transformative leaders and I believe that our country has been gifted by this transformative leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” he said.
The event was attended by several dignitaries including the outgoing Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode; Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello; Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari; Tinubu’s wife and a senator representing Lagos Central, Oluremi Tinubu; and APC chairman Adams Oshiomole, among others.