Friday, June 2, 2017 7:18 pm
Some Nigerians in Abuja on Friday flayed the Senate recommendation for a N5 fuel levy on every litre of petroleum or diesel imported into the country.
The Senate Committee on Works, had on June 1, recommended a N5 fuel levy on every litre of petroleum or diesel imported into Nigeria to help finance the proposed National Roads Fund.
The committee, chaired by Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano), also recommended the deduction of 0.5 per cent on fares paid by passengers travelling on inter-state roads to commercial mass transit operators and return of toll gates on federal roads, among others.
The inference of the proposed fuel levy charge is that end-users, including motorists, would pay N5 tax on every litre of fuel bought at any fuel station.
The recommendation, which has kept busy all social media platforms, comes a year after a recent increase of the pump price of premium motor spirit (petrol) from N87 to N145 per litre.
But speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Adebayo Ojo, a resident noted that the present recession called for a reduction in petrol price and not an increment.
Ojo, a commercial taxi driver, told NAN that: “Government cannot possibly be thinking about increasing the petrol price when they know the harsh economic situation in the country.
“The government should rather think of reducing the price else they will be calling Nigerians fools for being patient all this the while.
“We are not fools and government should not take us for granted, how can the senate be so mean to even contemplate a thing like that.
“I personally will recruit people to take to the street if a thing like that should happen,’’ he said.
Mrs Zainab Abu, a shop owner at Wuse market, said: “No, it can’t be true. That will be callous’’.
Abu told NAN that she could no longer afford her children’s school fees and had withdrawn them to a local school because of the recession.
“This government has failed Nigerians and if we are not expecting anything more they should stop frustrating us,’’ she said.
A salon owner in Maitama, also told NAN on condition of anonymity that: “Aunty, look around, I have laid off my staff. This one with me is cheap labour and she comes in thrice a week.
“I couldn’t increase their pay and they both said they could not cope because the salary barely covered their cost of transportation.’’
At a bus stop in Maitama, a lady who offered her name as Sala, almost slumped when NAN asked her reaction to the imminent hike.
Sala said: “The proposed hike is unreasonable, it will increase everything again and we have not recovered from the increments in virtually everything.’’
In the same vein, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says the Senate proposal to effect a N5 levy on imported petrol and diesel will further worsen the plight of the masses.
President ACCI, Mr Tony Ejinkeonye, in a statement on Friday in Abuja, said that the proposal would cause untold hardship to the citizens, if implemented.
He said: “This levy should not be imposed now as Nigerians are already encumbered with lots of burden.
“This levy, if imposed, will worsen the plight of the masses because fuel plays a vital role in the life of an average Nigerian.
“Thus, any increase in the price of fuel which the levy will create, will have adverse implications on all other sectors of national life.
“It will lead to sharp increase in cost of transportation, food and other services that depend on fuel for running.
“And its multiplier effect would have grave implication for the economy and worsen the inflation rate.”
He said that the fuel levy no doubt would be exploitative and burdensome; therefore, government should spare the citizens the suffering that this fuel levy would impose.
He advised the government to look at other ways of saving money for roads infrastructure such as the reduction of corruption as well as cut in the cost of running governance.
He said that the legal principle was that ‘the power to tax involves the power to destroy’.
“So, whether called a charge, levy, dues, toll, tax, or whatever, any attempt at imposition of a financial burden on the people must be backed by law properly made.
“Parliamentary resolution or recommendation would not do. Attempts in the past to impose such levies failed for not being backed by law,” he said.