NGO Coalition Storms NASS, Protests Killer Taxes On Alcoholic Beverages

NGO Coalition members protesting increase in taxes on alcoholic beverages at the National Assembly, Abuja, on Tuesday.
NGO Coalition members protesting increase in taxes on alcoholic beverages at the National Assembly, Abuja, on Tuesday.

Senate President Bukola Saraki has been enjoined to urgently intervene by ensuring reversal of the planned increase in excise duty on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products by the Federal Government.

A coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) comprising of the Business Renaissance Group (BRG) and Sustained Development Collective (SDC) made the call on Tuesday.

The group which staged a peaceful protest at the National Assembly (NASS) on Tuesday, maintained that the astronomical increase in excise duty was bound to endanger the sector if not reviewed and reversed.

The group displayed various placards with inscriptions such as “Support Local Industries: No To Killer Taxes”; “Save #Made In Nigeria Wines & Spirits. No Killer Taxes”; “Senate Save us from Killer Taxes”; “FG Please  Don’t Kill Our Local Businesses”; “President Buhari please save our jobs,  #No To The Tax Hike” among others.

Presenting a letter to be delivered to the Senate President, Dr Bukola  Saraki, President of BRG, Mazi Omife I. Omife, said “We are here to  present our case to the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki for urgent  intervention. We are calling on the minister of finance to revert the tax
increase on wines and spirit. This is because if it is executed it will lead to businesses closing up. It will lead to job losses and thereby aggravate the security situation in the country. If this people are displaced from their jobs some of them will resort to ugly vices like thuggery, armed robbery, kidnapping and other criminal activities.”

“We have made every effort to talk to the Minister of Finance and her officials but unfortunately they were not forthcoming. We had a meeting  with major stakeholders who wanted to intervene, but still the Minister of
Finance or her officials were not forthcoming.
“We had a press conference in Lagos and Abuja and yet nothing has happened  that is why we asking the Senate to intervene,” Omife said.

The letter was received by Mrs Amina Musa, a officer of the Department of  Sergeant At Arms, National Assembly for delivery to Dr Bukola Saraki.

Mrs Amina Musa, an officer of the Department of Sergeant At Arms, National Assembly receiving the letter for delivery to Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki from Chief Omife I. Omife, president of the Business Renaissance Group

The Federal Ministry of Finance recently announced an amendment to the  existing tariff, excise duty on locally produced wines, spirits, as well  as tobacco products which should take effect from June 4, 2018.

The current excise at 20 per cent for spirits amounts to N31 per litre  while the new excise as announced by Mrs Kemi Adeosun amounts to N200 per  litre of spirits and N150 for wines. This indicates an increase of over 500 per cent.

Also speaking during the protest, National Secretary, Sustainable  Development Collective (SDC), Dr Ike Ikegbunam said “Our point is very  clear. There should be a reversal of the tax increase.
The increase in excise duty is affecting our companies adversely. A lot of companies are folding up.
A lot of companies are moving to Ghana and using Ghana as their corporate  headquarters. We are talking of foreign investments, of pulling these  resources back into Nigeria. You cannot do this when you try to scare investors away with these tax policies. What we are doing is part of our
efforts to ensure that sanity prevails. A lot of thing will go wrong unless the issue of this excise duty increase is addressed.”

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