The Senate on Monday urged the Federal Government to raise the country’s revenue base to check its level of unemployment.
Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, made the call at a public hearing on “Urgent Need to Review the Excise Tariff Increment on Alcohol Beverages and Tobacco Products in Order to Save Local Distillers of Beverages from Looming Extinction.”
The event was organised by the Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. John Enoh.
Ekweremadu said, the country’s revenue needed the increase to minimise the effect and dangers posed by the consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products on the health of our people.
“We are also concerned about the negative effect this increment poses on the alcoholic beverages and tobacco industries and the impact on the high rate of unemployment in our country.
“Many economists are of the opinion that the full weight of the implementation of this increment regime will throw thousands of Nigerians into the job market.
“At a time when countries all over the world are significantly trying to make their economies attractive by providing tax reliefs to encourage business, we must be seen to be more strategic in our resolutions,” he said.
He also said that any retrogressive instrument to the ease of doing of business rating of Nigeria should be discouraged.
“It is therefore pertinent to come together for common reasoning on this issue which at the end, we hope to arrive at a solution that will improve the lot of the economy and the citizens.”
Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Enoh had said that the decision to conduct the public hearing was taken after the motion raised at the Senate on May 8, 2018.
“The committee on finance was mandated to carry out further legislative action to enable the senate adopt a comprehensive decision and make a proper intervention.
“The intervention is intended to mitigate the effect of the excise tariff increment on local distillers of beverages and tobacco manufacturers.
“The increment took effect on June 4, 2018 notwithstanding various complaints from different shades of opinions, particularly stakeholders that are directly or indirectly affected by the increment.
“The major source of concern is the non-inclusion of primary stakeholders in the industry such as Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Distillers and Beverages Association.’’
Enoh said that the consultation process that held without the stakeholders prompted the decision of the executive arm of government to increase the tariff rate of the affected products.
“These additions may have been based largely on the need to perhaps increase government revenue generation and reduce the consumption and health hazard associated with tobacco-related diseases and alcohol abuses through taxation policies,” he said.
In his submission, Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Kadiri, admitted that the Ministry of Finance consulted them in the proposed tariff hike.
He, however, said that the rate agreed upon on the basis of revenue generation by government was not what the ministry eventually brought out. (NAN)