VAT to jump from 5 to 15% soon – Ndume quotes Goodluck
… reveals details of meeting with him
By: Luka Binniyat
ABUJA – The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rep Ali Ndume (ANPP/Borno) revealed details of a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly with the Acting President, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck last Monday, and warned that his economic aides have convinced him to raise the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the present 5% to 15% “very soon”.
Ndume who spoke to National Assembly Correspondents in Abuja, in protest of the House endorsement of $915 million World Bank loan yesterday, lamented that the Acting President is swallowing the advice of the Minister of Finance (Olusegun Aganga) hook-line-and sinker with no regards to the welfare of the Nigerian masses.
Aganga, before becoming Minister, was an executive of the troubled Goldman Sach - a global investment banking and securities firm gone bankrupt last month.
Accoding to him, all the leadership of the Senate and the Reps left for the Presidential Vila on the morning of last Monday in bus.
“When we arrived we were served very good meals and we ate well”, he said.
“After that, were taken into an office where the Acting President and his aides where waiting for us.
“The Acting President told us that he had problems with about 12 areas in the 2010 budget and that he needed to point it out to us so that we can find a way out of it”, he narrated on.
“From what I found out, what the executive considers as ‘grey’ areas in the budget are what affect their own interest”, he said.
“The executive had added about N400 billion into the original appropriation bill submitted last November since the coming of the Acting President”, he said.
“Anywhere we cut down say, N2 billion on insurance, medical bill on a their sub-head, they have a problem with it”, he revealed.
“But, the Senate President told the Acting President to just append his signature on the budget, that after that, he can bring it up for amendment”, he said.
“This is Nigeria, you know, we were told that if we refuse to cooperate, that it could mean that we would not get …. (winked sideways and made gestures with hands) … I am sure you understand”, he said, amidst laughter.
“He then agreed to sign the budget without delay, and he actually did so”, he said.
“But, what the Senate President said, to me, was unconstitutional and impracticable”, he went on.
“You cannot amend an Appropriation Act, I don’t know how that can be done.
“The Acting President then said that he had two other issues to inform us”, he said.
According to Rep Ndume, the issues were the $915m World Bank Loan and the intention of Government to raise VAT to 15%..
“He said that he has been infomed that all the West African countries, with the exception of Ghana, have increased their VAT to 15%
“He called on the Minister of Finance to bfrief us the more”, he said.
“The Minister brought out to charts, spread them in his front and started making analysis”, he said.
“He talked for a long time, and nothing made sense to me because the man was never in government, and was not living in Nigeria for decades”, he said.
According to him, he told the Acting President that the two issues were not in the interest of Nigeria.
“I said, ‘Mr. Acting President, this man is coming from Goldman Sach as one of its executives.
“Most of them are on the run after ruining that company. But here, you have made him your Finance Minister”, he added.
“If you raise VAT to 15%, we the opposition will join hands with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and all the workers and ordinary people of this country to fight you”, he said.
“I told him that we will resist the move with all legal instruments at our disposal”, he told the Press.
A 15% increase in Vat, he observed would mean that most goods and services would jump by 15%.
“If other West African charge 15% on VAT, so what?!”, he said.
“Do you want to compare Nigeria and Togo, Benin Republic or Republic of Niger?, he queried.