From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba has said the recent decision by federal government to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 7.5% was in the best interest of Nigerians adding that even with the 2.5% increment; Nigeria has the lowest tax rate in the world.
He said the increment will cater for the development of needed infrastructure and other social amenities in dire state across the country even as he urged Nigerians to urgently embrace agriculture so as to help the country attain self sufficiency in food production so as to save it foreign revenue.
Prince Agba reiterated that the Muhammadu Buhari administration will not willfully put in place policies that emasculate economically and explained that the proposed new tax system “does not affect the common man because all the staple food, medication, education that has to do with the common man are VAT exempt.”
The Minister, who spoke at the 2019 Etsako Day celebration in Lagos at the weekend on the theme “ Showcasing the Cultural Heritage and Investment Opportunities of Etsako” advise Nigerians to begin to identify natural resources located in their geographical areas and draw attention to them in order to attract investment into those areas.
Agba said “Nigerians are not complaining about the recent decision to increase VAT and government is merely increasing VAT by 2 and a half percent to make it 7.5 percent and if you don’t know Nigeria has the lowest VAT rate in the world, even in our West Africa coast, a lot of people talk about Ghana, that it has reduce their VAT recently and why are we increasing? Ghana has only reduced it tax from 15 to 12 while we are going from 5 to 7.5%.”
“I am a farmer myself but people still see agriculture as a thing that is local, that it is for local people but l tells you it is not. If we are self sufficient in agriculture then we will be able to feed ourselves, that is where it all begins and if we can’t feed ourselves, then we will have problem with our foreign exchange that we keep talking about, we will start to use what we have earned from other sources to bring in food which is not good.”
He added that if you go to the market and buy yam, potatoes, vegetable and others, you will not pay VAT but if you choose to go to Eko hotel and eat, you pay VAT because you can afford it.”