The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has called on the Federal Government to extend the planned probe of tax waivers, grants and other insidious benefits unduly awarded to corporations by past governments, to include the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) awarded to tobacco companies.
The EEG scheme is a post-shipment incentive introduced by the Federal Government to encourage indigenous exporters to expand their export volume and value in the global market.
The group made the call for the extension of the probe in a statement issued in reaction to the resolution of the House of Representatives to investigate all tax waivers granted since 2015, and the candid observations of the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Tax Reforms and Fiscal Policy, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, who declared in a recent television interview that the country’s administration of tax waivers was lacking in both prudence and transparency.
While welcoming the probe, CAPPA urged the government to extend its investigative search to the sleazy waivers granted to the tobacco industry since 2003. It declared that the waivers, benefits, and recognition granted to the tobacco industry were further complicated by the multifaceted impacts of the tobacco industry on public health and the environment.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: ‘‘We demand a full and transparent inquiry into these shady waivers that have ripped the country of its revenues. Moreso, we are concerned about the benefits awarded to the tobacco industry under the Export Expansion Grant Scheme, and other untoward agreements which insult every Nigerian striving for a healthier and more equitable society’’.
‘‘These waivers and grants not only undermine our country’s fiscal responsibility but also tacitly endorse an industry that poses significant health risks, affecting many Nigerians,’’ Zikora Ibeh, CAPPA’s Policy and Research Officer, added.
CAPPA pointed out that global health bodies, scientific and medical research have consistently highlighted the severe health implications of tobacco consumption, linking it to a host of chronic diseases including cancer, heart diseases and respiratory illnesses.
According to Oluwafemi, ‘‘By exempting the tobacco industry from its fair share of taxes, the Nigerian government inadvertently compromised public health in Nigeria and other West African countries and widened the country’s poverty gap.
“This preferential treatment granted to an undeserving industry deprives the nation of crucial revenue needed for public services like healthcare, education, and infrastructure development,’’
In similar vein, CAPPA also called for an increase in taxes on tobacco products to reduce consumption as well as safeguard public health.