NLC decries sales of public utilities
• Seeks urgent action against financial outflows
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has flayed the continuous sales of public utilities by the Federal Government.
In his address to commemorate the Public Service day, the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said observing the day globally gives the working class an opportunity to re-state one of the effective and genuine ways of tackling poverty, inequality, want, deprivation and misery in Africa.
Congress called on the Federal Government to scale down, halt and reverse where possible, the decision to privatise public services. He argued that according to the 1999 constitution (as amended), the state still remains the driver of the commanding heights of the economy, and the provider of jobs and services.
Congress argued that aggressive privatization should not be an excuse for failing to stem Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
Wabba added: “The case for serious, aggressive, brave and sustainable inward looking cannot be more urgent now that the country is confronted by near-unprecedented economic challenges to the extent that the performance of basic and fundamental state duties such as payment of salaries and pension as when due is under real threat.
He noted that the AU Heads of State in Addis Ababa adopted 16 months after the African Union-Economic Commission for Africa (AU-ECA) report on Illicit-Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa, no action has been taken by the Africa Heads of State even when the report pointedly said $50billion is lost to Africa annually through IFF activities.
Wabba submitted that the need for action is underscored by the increasing poverty and social discontent in the land.
NLC observed that rather than commit the same zeal and attention to dealing with these criminalities and their perpetrators for which Congress will ever be ready to support the government, it is amused that government has chosen to pursue tax policies such as increasing Value Added Tax, raise the pump price of petroleum products, devalue the Naira and other policies that will punish the poor and exacerbate the hardship and miseries of indigent households.
To repatriate the funds for development purposes, NLC Chief urged African countries to seek and pursue effective cooperation with themselves and other developing countries, particularly in terms of tax policy, practices and information-sharing.
“African governments should strive to eliminate undermining and damaging tax competition with and amongst them. In essence, tax concession in relation to attracting Foreign Direct Investment should be critically rethought. African governments should seek cooperation with other developing countries to enforce multilateral adoption and implementation of measures to end financial and corporate secrecy jurisdictions, which have contributed in major ways to the fledging of tax havens and thus loss of revenues to African governments. The revelations from the Panama Papers leak speak eloquently to this fact and the need to scale up preventive actions against secrecy tax jurisdictions.”
Commenting on the strength of new revelations in terms of how Multinational Corporations have undermined revenue prospects of Africans countries, particularly in the extractive industry, NLC insisted that Africa should commence processes to re-negotiate existing mining and exploration contracts as well as take other anti-mineral revenue theft measures.
He added: “African governments must commit to train and retrain personnel with the view to build, improve and deepen the skills, competences and knowledge needed for effective tax administration. Importantly, tax regimes that place heavy burden and responsibilities on the working poor should be readjusted progressively, whilst sanctions should be improved to rein in the rich and corporate entities that have continued to evade tax payment.”
Wabba submitted that Nigeria must stand up as a strong and resolute voice in the struggle to stop the bleeding of Africa, as well as work to use tax revenues to finance social services delivery and not to continue to privatize public services to the detriment and exclusion of the poor and needy.