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The Vice President must hear this


Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Sir: The recent hike in the excise duty on alcoholic beverages by the Federal Government is an unfortunate policy with the propensity to put more than 25, 000 direct jobs on the line if implemented by the proponents of this obnoxious tax regime. No government hikes taxes to stifle a thriving subsector. Having gone through a debilitating recession, the Nigeria manufacturing sector needs production friendly government tax regime that will encourage capacity expansion by industries and ultimately create needed jobs for our teeming youth. The reasons given for the increase in excise duty for alcoholic beverages are debatable. The Ministry of Finance posited that this ill-timed, ill-advised policy was intended to discourage consumption of alcohol thereby engendering a healthy populace. There is no empirical evidence that consumption of alcohol is a health threat to our nation…so this postulation is a mere rhetoric and not based on facts. It is instructive to point out here that the players in this subsector have consistently maintained a campaign of responsible drinking habit and this has been verifiably effective in checking alcohol abuse by Nigerians.

The second reason given by Government for the hike in excise duty for alcoholic beverages is for the purpose of revenue generation. There is no doubt that the Federal Government needs increased revenue for it to be able to fund projects. But you don’t kill a thriving subsector on the altar of revenue generation. The Chinese government is currently considering reducing Value Added Tax (VAT) in order to stimulate aggregate consumption and ultimately enhance productive activities for an economy that is already a model for the world. While this writer is not against increase in excise duty, this should be carried out with human face to avoid the unintended negative consequences of implementing about 500 per cent increase on excise duty. Mr. Vice President Sir, as the arrow head of this administration’s Economic Team, I am convinced that you are certainly not a party to government policies that will lead to loss of jobs, muzzle a thriving subsector and eventually push the sector to the precipice. This policy will only favour importers of foreign spirits and further aggravate fake and substandard products menace. Sir, going forward, I am appealing to you, as a concerned Nigerian to please use your good offices to prevail on the Minister of Finance to implement this new excise duty regime with human face in order to keep thousands of jobs that will be affected by this astronomical hike of excise duty on locally produced spirits.

Emmanuel Daudu wrote from Lagos.

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